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Wednesday February 15, 2006Softball Wins Home Opener, 3-2, in Eight Innings

Gainesville, FL

University of Florida softball junior Melissa Zick (Tampa,  Fla.) edged out a throw on a bases-loaded, one-out fielder’s choice by freshman Kim Waleszonia (Fontana, Calif.) to lead her squad to an eight-inning, 3-2 victory Wednesday evening over the University of South Florida in the team’s home opener at the Florida Softball Stadium.

 

UF’s junior tandem of Zick and Lacy Howard (League City, Texas) knocked back-to-back one-out singles and freshman Lindsay Littlejohn (Bartow, Fla.) followed up their act with a walk to load the bases on USF reliever Kasey Cash. Zick scored the winning run on an error by USF first baseman Ashley Bullion to give the Gators a 3-2 victory, improving their record under first-year head coach Tim Walton to 3-3.

 

Littlejohn garnered the win, tossing eight innings and giving up two runs in the process. She stranded 11 runners, struck out five and walked two in improving her season record to 1-2.

 

“This was a great win,” Walton said. “The kids have been working hard, and we wanted to come out in front of our home crowd and get a W. We found a way to win tonight by playing smart defense and providing just enough offense to get a win.”

 

“Lindsay is a freshman who is going to continue to improve as the season goes along. I think that we pulled her out a little early last weekend in Houston when she would get into trouble, and I wanted to leave her in a little longer to respond to adversity tonight. I thought she did a great job.”

 

The Gators posted their first offensive outburst of the evening in the home half of the fourth. Lindsey Cameron (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) added to her school-record home run total with her fourth of the season, taking USF hurler Bree Spence’s 0-1 offering off the foul pole in left field to bring the Gators back to within one run at 2-1.

“Lindsey is a tremendous spark for us, and that was one of the reasons I felt comfortable with her in the lead-off slot,” Walton added. “It’s not in our team’s character to go out and take the first pitch. I tell them to come out swinging, so I wasn’t surprised when she swung at strike one. She came back and sent the next pitch sailing.”

 

After UF catcher Kristen Butler (Orlando, Fla.) flied out to deep centerfield, Zick laced a single through the hole between shortstop and third. Zick stole second and came around to score on a two-out RBI single to left center by Littlejohn to even the score at 2-2. The one-bagger marked the first hit of Littlejohn’s career as well as the first RBI.

 

For the Gators, Cameron was 2-for-4 with her 30th career homer, while Zick also batted 2-for-4 with two runs scored. Shelley Stevens (Gainesville, Fla.) was 2-for-3 to round out the Gators with multiple hits on the evening.

 

USF opened the scoring in the top of the second frame. Krista Holle drew a leadoff walk from Littlejohn. Christie Chapman reached on a sacrifice fielder’s choice that found both runner’s safe. Holle and Chapman advanced on a groundout by Bulls catcher Sarah Watson. Holle scored on a one-out single by Bulls first baseman Ashley Bullion, but Gator left fielder Cameron kept the damage minimal by throwing out Chapman at the plate on the play, limiting the Bulls’ lead to 1-0.

 

One inning later, Stewart led off the frame and sent Littlejohn’s 1-0 serving over the left-centerfield wall to extend the Bulls’ lead to 2-0.

 

The Bulls threw three pitchers at the Gators. Spence pitched to a no decision after throwing four innings and striking out five UF hitters. Spence allowed two earned runs on four hits and did not walk a batter. Her replacement, Cristi Ecks ran into trouble in the bottom of the fifth, walking the bases loaded with two down. Zick worked the count to 2-2 but could not catch up with a fastball on the outer portion of the plate to end the UF threat. Ecks lasted three innings, giving up two hits and walks while striking out six. Cash was saddled with the loss in one-third of an inning, her season record falling to 0-2.

 

UF returns to action this weekend when it hosts the GRU Classic. The tournament features 13 games in three days amongst Florida, defending national champion Michigan, Penn State, Longwood, and College World Series participant DePaul. The tournament opens Friday at 10 a.m. with Michigan playing DePaul. The Gators will play their first game of the tournament at5 p.m. versus Penn State. Admission is free. Live stats will be available on GatorZone.com for all games. The Gator game will be broadcast live on GatorZone.com via yahoo.com. Florida’s game Saturday against Michigan will be shown live throughout Florida on SunSports.

 

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