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Saturday February 18, 2006Softball Defeats No. 1 Michigan, 3-2

Gainesville, FL

The Florida Softball team (6-4) used solid pitching, timely hitting and sharp defense to defeat No. 1 Michigan (2-1), 3-2, in the GRU Classic at the Florida Softball Stadium Saturday night. A crowd of 1,236, the largest since the program’s opening day in 1997, was in the stands to see the Gators pick up the first win over a No. 1 team and the defending national champion in the program’s history.

 

The game came down to the bottom of the seventh, with the Gators down 2-0 and the bottom half of the lineup due up. Lead off batter freshman Kim Waleszonia (Fontana, Calif.) reached on an error by the Michigan third baseman. Senior Lindsay Norfleet (Madison, Fla.) drew her second walk of the game. Lorilyn Wilson came in the game to replace Michigan starter Jennie Ritter in the pitching circle with runners on first and second and no outs in the inning. Wilson struck out the first Gator hitter she faced, but loaded the bases with a walk on a full count to junior pinch hitter Lauren Roussell (Cerritos, Calif.). Senior Stacie Pestrak (Gainesville, Fla.) re-entered the game to run for Roussell. An RBI ground out by freshman Lindsay Littlejohn (Bartow, Fla.) scored Waleszonia to put the Gators within one with one out to go in the game. Senior Lindsey Cameron (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) delivered the game-winning hit, a two-RBI single on a full count, scoring Norfleet and Pestrak for the 3-2 win.

 

“We knew if we were going to have a chance against Michigan we were going to have to get some clutch hits,” Florida head coach Tim Walton said. “We showed a lot of patience at the plate in the seventh inning and Lindsey Cameron came through with that clutch hit.”

 

The game was a pitchers’ dual between Michigan starter Ritter and Florida freshman Stacey Nelson (Los Alamitos, Calif.). Though Michigan put runners on base in the top of the second, Florida played heads up defense. With only one out and Michigan runners on first and third, the Gators turned an unconventional 5-3-2 double play to end the inning and prevent the run from scoring.

 

Florida also got its first base runner in the second inning, but did not move her beyond first.

 

Both teams remained scoreless until Michigan scored the first runs of the game in the top of the sixth inning. A two out intentional walk of Samantha Findlay came back to hurt the Gators when Alessandra Giampaolo followed with a two-RBI double, giving the Wolverines a 2-0 lead.

 

Florida pitcher Nelson pitched her second complete game in as many days for the win to improve her record to 3-1 on the year. She struck out three and only allowed one walk in the game. Michigan starter Ritter struck out 11 Gators in the no decision. Wilson was credited with the loss after walking Roussell, who represented the winning run.

 

“The whole team really played well tonight,” Walton said. “It was great to have so many fans here. We could feel the energy from the crowd on the field. Michigan is a classy team. They always play with class and that is why people come out to watch them play. That is what we are working to become. Tonight was a step in the right direction, but you can’t measure the whole season on just one game. We still have a lot of games left to play.”

 

The Gators dropped game one, 7-4, to No. 21 DePaul (6-2) after a series of misfortunes contributed to six DePaul runs in the fifth.

 

DePaul threatened first in the bottom of the third inning but left fielder Cameron threw out the potential run at home plate. Senior catcher Kristen Butler (Orlando, Fla.) ended the scoring threat by throwing a base stealer out at third base to end the inning.

                                                                                                                                

Florida responded in the top of the fourth by loading the bases with two outs. Pinch hitter Roussell drew a full count walk to score Littlejohn and put a run on the board for the Gators. DePaul pitcher Megan Huitink ended the rally by inducing a pop fly to end the inning.

 

Florida increased its lead to 2-0 in the fifth inning on a towering home run over the left field wall by Butler, her team-leading fifth of the season.

 

DePaul answered big in the bottom half of the frame with six runs. The scoring started with a Marcy Wilus single scoring runner Stephanie Blagaich, who had just stolen third base. DePaul loaded the bases with one out and scored three runs on a two error play on an infield ground ball by Kate Sheaks. The Blue Demons kept the pressure on, scoring again on a double steal. A two-out line drive RBI-single by Blagaich continued the scoring. DePaul tallied five hits in the inning and capitalized on the two Florida errors, gaining a 6-2 lead.

 

DePaul added another run in the sixth inning on a two-out single by Linda Secka.

 

Butler drove in another Gator run in the seventh inning for the Gators, scoring Cameron on a warning track double to left field. An infield single by sophomore Lacy Howard (League City, Texas) scored freshman Alicia Spack (West Lafayette, Ind.), who was pinch running for Butler, but the comeback bid fell short as Florida dropped its fourth game of the season, 7-4.

 

DePaul out hit the Gators 11-9 and had a complete game performance from Huitink, her fourth of the season. Littlejohn pitched a complete game in the loss for Florida, moving her record to 1-3 on the year.

 

Florida wraps up GRU Classic play on Sunday. The Gators will have a rematch with Michigan at 11:15 a.m. and will finish the tournament with Longwood at 1:30 p.m. Both games will air live on GatorZone.com.

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