The No. 19 Florida Softball team (45-19) won its opening round game in the Southeastern Conference tournament, defeating Mississippi State
(34-25), 3-0, in Auburn, Ala. The win was Florida’s first in the conference tournament since 2003.
Florida took the lead in the bottom of the third. Sophomore Kim Waleszonia (Fontana, Calif.) beat out an infield hit to start the Gator rally. Her hit extended her hit streak to nine games, a career-long. She moved to second on senior Lauren Roussell?s (Cerritos, Calif.) second sacrifice of the game. A ground out from sophomore Ali Gardiner (Waccabuc, N.Y.) advanced Waleszonia to third. Senior Melissa Zick (Tampa, Fla.) extended her hit streak to 15 games with a base hit through the left side to score Waleszonia and give the Gators the 1-0 lead.
Roussell hit her sixth home run of the season to put Florida up 2-0 with one out in the bottom of the fifth frame.
The Gators scored their final run on some heads up base running in the sixth. Junior Mary Ratliff (Mt. Sterling, Ky.) reached on a walk from Kelsey Nurnberg. She advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt from senior Lacy Howard (League City, Texas). Ratliff advanced to third on a Nurnberg illegal pitch. She stole home to score Florida?s final run and give her team the three-run lead.
Mississippi State got its only hit of the game on base in the top of the fourth. SEC Freshman of the Year Chelsea Bramlett led off the inning with a base hit through the right side. She moved to third on two consecutive sacrifice bunts, but would get no further as Katie Cooley grounded out to Roussell at short to end the inning.
Sophomore Stacey Nelson (Los Alamitos, Calif.) improved to 29-12 on the year with the win. The shut out was her 11th on the year and the 22nd for the Gators overall. Mississippi State starter Kelli Miller pitched 4.0 innings in the loss. There was only one strikeout recorded in the game as Nurnberg struck out Florida sophomore Kristina Hilberth
The Gators now advance to the tournament semifinals to face either Tennessee or Ole Miss at 8:30 p.m. ET on Friday. The game will be broadcast live on WRUF AM 850, WRUF.com and GatorZone.com. Live stats and free live video are available at auburntigers.com.
Courtesy UF Sports Info.