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Saturday April 16, 2005No. 15 Softball Sweeps No. 6 Tennessee in Thrilling Doubleheader

Gainesville, FL

The No. 15/17 Florida Softball team (34-11, 13-4) relied upon strong pitching and timely hits to defeat No. 6/7 Tennessee (44-9, 12-6) 2-1 and 1-0 in a doubleheader Saturday afternoon at the Florida Softball Stadium. Floridas pitching staff surrendered only one run in two games to the nations third highest ranked offense. With the two victories, Florida moved into third place in the SEC season standings. Tennessee fell to 1-16 all-time in Gainesville after dropping both games.

The Gators captured game one of the doubleheader behind Florida starting pitcher Stacey Stevens complete game victory. Stevens surrendered five hits and struck out four en route to her team-leading 18th win of the season.

Florida right fielder Mandy Schuermans two-run home run in the bottom of the fourth inning proved the difference in game one. Schuerman drove a 0-1 Monica Abbott fastball over the right field fence to give Florida a two-run lead. Florida catcher Kristen Butler led off the fourth inning with a walk. Butler was replaced by speedy pinch hitter Stacie Pestrak. During the ensuing at bat, Schuerman blasted her second home run of the season.

The Lady Vols narrowed the Gator lead to one run in the top half of the fifth inning. Tennessee right fielder India Chiles started the inning with a single. A sacrifice bunt by short stop Lindsay Schutzler advanced Chiles to second. During the next at bat, Lady Vols first baseman Tonya Callahan smacked a hard liner right at Florida center fielder Lacy Howard. However, Howard misplayed the ball which allowed Chiles to score on the error.

Stevens bailed the Gators out of a one-out jam in the fifth by striking out Tennessee catcher Shannon Doepking and getting left fielder Katherine Card to ground out to Savana Kelly at second.

The Gators preserved their lead in the sixth and seventh innings behind strong defensive play. Florida left fielder Shelley Stevens made two key catches to help her sister Stacey shut down the Lady Vols.

With the loss, Abbotts record fell to 31-4 on the season. Coming into the game, she led all Division I players in wins, and her 0.45 ERA was fourth nationally. Abbott finished with nine strikeouts and two earned runs.

Kristen Butlers season-high hitting streak ended at six games. However, she set the school record for runners caught stealing after throwing out Schutzler in the third inning.

In game two of the doubleheader, the Florida pitching staff surrendered only three hits en route to a 1-0 win in eight innings. The Gators improved to 12-3 in games decided by one run and 4-0 in extra inning contests.

Florida starting pitcher Mandy Schuerman threw 3.1 innings of two-hit softball before being relieved by Stevens. With 4.2 innings of one-hit softball, Stevens improved her record to 19-6 on the year.

An errant throw by Lady Vols catcher Doepking proved the difference in game two of the series. Florida first baseman Melissa Zick led off the inning with a single. Before the ensuing at bat, Doepking tried to pick off Zick at first but threw the ball over the head of first baseman Callahan. While Zick was advancing, Callahans throw went through the legs of right fielder Chiles. The two errors enabled Zick to score from first, and preserved a sweep for the Gators.

The Lady Vols gave the Gators a scare in the top of the sixth, but an all-out defensive play ended the half inning still in a scoreless tie. Leadoff batter Kristi Durant was hit by a Stevens pitch. Kenora Psey entered the game to pinch run for her. With two outs, Stacey Jennings drove a base hit to left field. Ashley Cline drew the two-out walk to load the bases. Posey headed for home on a Stevens wild pitch. Florida catcher Butler grabbed the errant pitch and dove into home just in time to tag the sliding Posey for the third out of the inning to preserve the Gator shutout.

With one out in the bottom of the sixth inning, the Gators had runners on first and second. However, Abbott was able to work out of the jam and retire the next two hitters.

Florida threatened again in the bottom of the seventh. Left fielder Michelle Diaz singled to begin the inning. During the next at bat, Lauren Roussells one-out single to left center field advanced Diaz to third. Roussell stole second base during Shelley Stevens at bat. Stevens worked Abbott for ten pitcher before striking out swinging. The Lady Vols intentionally walked Butler to load the bases. With the bases loaded, Schuerman popped out to left field to end the threat.

Stacey Stevens retired six Lady Vols in a row in the seventh and eighth to lead Florida to the victory. Her totals for Saturday include 11.2 innings pitched, six hits surrendered, no earned runs and seven strike outs.

Lady Vols pitcher Abbott (31-5) was charged with her second loss of the day. The game marked the first time she had thrown more than seven innings all season. Abbott has now dropped three games in a row.

The two teams will play the finale of the three game set Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. Live video will be available on GatorVision Online and live radio will be available on Gatorzone.com via Yahoo.com.

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