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Saturday April 23, 2005Softball Gets Bats Going in Doubleheader Sweep

Gainesville, FL

The No. 16/16 Florida Softball Team (36-12, 15-5) swept the doubleheader against Mississippi State (30-24, 10-15) by a score of 4-0 and 12-4 in five innings Saturday evening at the Florida Softball Stadium.

In game one, the Gators relied upon strong pitching, sound defense and timely hits. In game two, the Florida offense tallied 12 runs on 11 hits.

Game one of the doubleheader featured strong performances by twin sisters Stacey and Shelley Stevens.

Florida starting pitcher Stacey Stevens threw her seventh complete-game shutout victory of the season. Stevens improved her record to 20-6 after surrendering only five hits and striking out three batters. She and the Gator defense retired seven batters in a row from the fifth to seventh innings.

Gator outfielder Shelley Stevens had a career day offensively and defensively. She tied a career-high by going 3-for-3 from the plate. Stevens also recorded two runs scored. Defensively, she set a new career-high with five put outs in the game.

The Gators jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the bottom half of the second inning. Florida designated player Mandy Schuerman led off the inning with a single to right field that was misplayed by Bulldog right fielder Katie Cooley. The error allowed Schuerman to advance to second. Schuerman was replaced by pinch runner Stacie Pestrak. A RBI single up the middle by second baseman Savana Kelly scored Pestrak.

Florida increased its lead to 2-0 in the bottom of the fourth inning. Gator catcher Kristen Butler hit an RBI double to score Shelley Stevens from second base.

The Gators added two more insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. An RBI fielder’s choice by Butler scored Stevens. Butler tallied her team-leading 31st RBI of the season. During the next at bat, Butler stole her second base of the season. Pestrak followed with an RBI single to right center that scored Butler.

Mississippi State went 1-2-3 in the top of the seventh inning. With the victory, the Gators recorded their 12th shutout of the season.

Bulldog starting pitcher Kelli Miller (11-9) was charged with her ninth loss of the season. She allowed seven hits and one earned run while striking out three Gators.

Game two of the doubleheader showcased Florida’s offensive talent. Florida first baseman Melissa Zick set a new career-high with five RBI in the game. Also, Zick hit a two-run shot in the top of the fifth, her fifth of the season. Butler had another stellar night at the plate. She went 1-for-2 and tied a career-high with four RBI, increasing her total to 35 RBI on the season. In the bottom of the third, Butler smacked a three-run homer to left field, tying her for second on the team with five home runs on the year. Shellley Stevens continued her good hitting night with a 2-for-3 performance with a sacrifice.

The Gators struck first in the bottom of the first inning. Florida short stop Lauren Roussell was hit by a Stephanie Comeaux pitch to lead off the inning. Roussell tied the school-record with 15 hit by pitches in her career. A sacrifice fly by Butler gave Florida a 1-0 lead. During the ensuing at bat, Schuerman smacked an RBI double off the right field fence to score Shelley Stevens.

Mississippi State tied the game in the top of the third inning. Florida starting pitcher Mandy Schuerman surrendered a two-out, two RBI double to Bulldog short stop Courtney Bures. After the Bures hit, Schuerman was replaced by Stevens. Schuerman pitched 2.2 innings, allowing two earned runs on three hits.

Florida’s bats exploded in the bottom of the third inning. A Zick two RBI double to center field scored Pestrak and Stevens. Butler followed with her three-run home run, increasing the Florida lead to 6-2.

The Gators increased the Bulldog deficit to 10-2 after four runs on three hits in the bottom of the fourth. A Zick two RBI double to center field scored Roussell and Shelley Stevens. During the next at bat, Zick advanced to third base on a wild pitch by Sara Hickerson. Schuerman followed with a walk to put runners on the corners for the Gators. During the following at bat, Zick scored on an RBI single by Savana Kelly. Schuerman was replaced by pinch runner Chesak, who eventually scored on a wild pitch.

Florida just had to get through the top of the fifth without giving up any runs to end the game. But a Bures, two-run homer sent the game to the bottom of the fifth with a six-run Gator lead.

With one out in the Gator half of the fifth, Roussell hit a base hit down the left field line. With two outs, Zick ended the game on a two-run bomb over center field for the 12-4 Gator win.

Comeaux received the loss for Mississippi State t o move her record to 9-7 on the year. Stacey Stevens was credited with her second win of the day to improve her record to 21-7 on the year.

The two teams will face off again tomorrow at 1 p.m.

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