The No. 20 Florida Softball team (42-19, 15-11 SEC) won the first game of a three-game series with Kentucky (20-29, 4-22 SEC), 7-3 on a cloudy Saturday in Lexington. The clouds opened up in the top of the second in game two, with the game tied 4-4, leaving the two teams to finish the game at 11 a.m. on Sunday.
Two Gator individuals were able to tie some records on the day. Senior Melissa Zick (Tampa, Fla.) had a hit in each game to move her streak to
13 games, tying the school record streak set by current assistant coach Jenny Gladding from April 18 to May 9, 2003. Sophomore Kim Waleszonia
(Fontana, Calif.) hit a double in the fifth inning of game two for her
76th hit of the year, tying the previous single season record set by Lora Pinkerton in 2000. Waleszonia also stole a base in the third inning of game one for her 20th steal of the season. She is the first player since 2003 to steal 20 or more bases in a season.
Kentucky put up a run first in the bottom of the opening inning of game one. Natalie Smith led off the inning slapping a base hit through the right side. Audrey Meyer reached on a Florida error, but the Gators were able to get the lead run advancing to third for the first out of the inning. Meyer stole third to move into scoring position. Florida sophomore pitcher Stacey Nelson (Los Alamitos, Calif.) struck out Kentucky leading hitter Brooke Marnitz for the second out of the inning. Katie Campbell knocked a base hit to center to bring home Meyer for the
1-0 Wildcat lead.
The Gators tied the game in the following half inning. Junior Mary Ratliff (Mt. Sterling, Ky.) led off the inning with a double to left center. She moved to third on a fly out to center by senior Lacy Howard
(League City, Texas.). Ratliff came around to score and tie the game on a sacrifice fly to center from sophomore Corrie Brooks (Christmas, Fla.).
Waleszonia led off the Gator half of the third with a base hit to right. She stole second and put the Gators in the lead as she scored on a double by senior Lauren Roussell (Cerritos, Calif.). A Zick base hit to left scored Roussell to put Florida up 3-1.
The Gators took a three-run lead in the top of the fourth. Howard led off the inning reaching on an error by the Kentucky second baseman. She moved to second on a sacrifice bunt from Brooks. Sophomore Kristina Hilberth (Dunedin, Fla.) slapped an infield base hit to third. Waleszonia reached on the second Kentucky error of the inning to load the bases. Roussell reached on a fielder’s choice, leaving the bases loaded, but Howard was thrown out at the plate. Sophomore Ali Gardiner
(Waccabuc, N.Y.) walked to push Hilberth across the plate.
Florida scored its final three runs on back-to-back home runs in the top of the sixth. With two outs, Roussell reached on a base hit to left center. Gardiner followed with her fourth home run of the season to put the Gators up 6-1. Zick topped her previous season-best with her 10th home run of the season over the left field fence, giving her team the six-run lead.
Kentucky would add two runs in the bottom of the sixth on three consecutive base hits to make the score 7-3, but would not be able to come any closer.
Nelson pitched the complete game to earn the win for the Gators. Her record improves to 27-12 on the year. She struck out two batters, did not give up a walk and only two of the three runs she gave up were earned. Megan Jolly took the loss for Kentucky.
The two teams were knotted at 0-0 through the first three innings of game two before two more Gators home runs opened the scoring. Freshman Francesca Enea (Woodland Hills, Calif.) hit her fifth home run of the season to score the first run of the game. Ratliff knocked a base hit to left center to continue the inning. Sophomore Brooke Johnson (Lakeland, Fla.) came into pinch run for her. With two outs, Brooks had one of the best at bats of the season. She took Kentucky pitcher Amber Matousek to a full count then fouled off three more pitches, before jacking her second home run of the season out of the park in centerfield to give the Gators the 3-0 lead.
Florida added another run in the top of the fifth. Waleszonia led off the inning with a double to left. She moved to third on Roussell’s 15th sacrifice of the year. A double down the left field line with two outs in the inning by Zick scored Waleszonia for the 4-0 Florida lead.
Kentucky tied the game up in the bottom half of the inning. Natalie Smith led off the inning with a base hit through the right side. Alli Eckman followed with an infield base hit. Brooke Marnitz’s double to right scored Smith to narrow Florida’s lead to three runs. With one out and two runners on base, Molly Johnson hit a three run home run to left to knot the score at 4-4. A Gator error allowed one more runner on base before the defense took care of business to end the inning, including a strikeout by senior pitcher Stacey Stevens (Gainesville, Fla.) for the last out.
The game was halted due to a torrential down pour with a 2-2 count on Florida’s Johnson, the lead off batter of the inning.
The two teams will finish the game Sunday at 11 a.m. and be immediately followed by the final game of the series. Both games will air live on GatorZone.com.
Courtesy UF Sports Info