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Saturday March 12, 2005Softball Ends West Coast Trip 4-0

Long Beach, CA

The No. 17 Florida Softball team (21-6) finished its West Coast trip undefeated as they defeated San Diego State 3-1 and shut out host No. 25 Long Beach State 5-0 at the Long Beach State Invitational. The Gators will now head into league play next weekend on a seven-game win streak.

The Gators continued Friday’s trend and waited until the late innings to score against San Diego State. Mary Ratliff led off the top of the fifth inning reaching on an error by the Aztec short stop. Erica Chesak entered to pinch run for her and stole second. Celena Velasquez came in to replace starter Cori Janelli in the pitching circle. Chesak advanced to third on a Michelle Diaz ground out and scored on a Lacy Howard base hit down the left field line. It was Howard’s first hit since the second game of the season, as she has been out due to a knee injury. Shelley Stevens came in to run for Howard at first and immediately stole second. With two outs, Stacie Pestrak hit a line drive to left field to score Stevens and give the Gators a 2-0 lead. Lindsey Cameron reached on a third strike passed ball by the Aztec catcher and Pestrak moved to third. Another error by the San Diego short stop allowed Melissa Zick to reach first and Pestrak to score, putting Florida ahead 3-0.

The Aztecs closed Florida’s lead to just two runs in the bottom half of the eighth. Chrissie Markham led off the inning with a base hit to left. After an Allison Smith base hit, Stacey Stevens came in to relieve Florida starter Amanda Knowles in the pitching circle. Megan McDonald hit the Aztecs third consecutive base hit to load the bases. Kristen Carranza reached on a fielder’s choice that allowed Markham to score for the only San Diego run on the game.

Amanda Knowles pitched four innings to improve her record to 5-1 on the season. Stacey Stevens earned her first save of the year. The two combined for 10 strikeouts for the fourth consecutive game. Knowles had seven Ks, while Stevens added three.

The Gators got on the board faster in the second game of the day. Shelley Stevens led off the top half of the third with a triple to left. Two batters later, Ashlie Goble drew a one-out walk. Cameron scored Stevens and advanced Goble to third with a base hit up the middle. Cameron stole second to put herself in scoring position. Goble scored on a Zick base hit. Kristen Butler cleared the bases with a double up the middle to score Cameron and Zick and give Florida a 4-0 lead.

The Gators added another run in the top of the sixth. Zick led off the inning reaching on an error by the Forty-Niners third baseman. She stole second. Kristen Butler also reached on a Long Beach State error and Zick advanced to third. Zick scored on a Pestrak ground out to put Florida up 5-0.

Stacey Stevens pitched the complete game for the win. Her record improves to 11-4 on the year.

The Gators will begin Southeastern Conference play next weekend in Fayetteville, Ark. The Gators and Lady Backs will face off in a doubleheader beginning at 2 p.m. ET Saturday and a single game at 2 p.m. ET on Sunday. All three games will be broadcast live on www.GatorZone.com via yahoo.com. Live stats will also be available at GatorZone.com.

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