SOFTBALL: Gators win Clearwater Tourney

CLEARWATER --- The Florida softball team (7-0) became the first team in the nine-year history of the program to begin the season 7-0 with a 4-1 win over UCF to win the Clearwater Invitational at the Ed C. Moore Complex on Sunday.

Florida took it to the Knights right away in the first inning. With one out, junior Stacie Pestrak (Gainesville, Fla.) was hit by Lindsay Enders. Pestrak stole second and sophomore Melissa Zick (Tampa, Fla.) walked to put runners at first and second for junior Kristen Butler (Orlando, Fla.). Butler knocked a double through the right side to score both runners. Butler advanced to third on a junior Lindsey Cameron (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) ground out. She scored on a wild pitch as senior Mandy Schuerman (Riverview, Fla) walked to give the Gators a 3-0 lead.

UCF answered in the bottom half of the opening frame. Bryttani Lindheim scored after three straight base hits by the Knights to narrow the Gators' lead to 3-1.

The Gators added another run in the top of the sixth. Butler led off the inning with a base hit up the middle. Senior Nikki Baldwin came in to pinch run for her and scored on a Schuerman double to give Florida the three-run lead once again at 4-1.

Junior Lindsey Norfleet (Madison, Fla.) extended her hitting streak to five games with a lead off base hit in the top of the seventh. With one out, freshman Mary Ratliff (Mt. Sterling, Ky.) pinch hit for Pestrak and drew a walk. Pestrak reentered to run for Ratliff. Norfleet stole third, putting runners at the corners. Pestrak stole second and Butler walked to load the bases for Cameron. Cameron hit a base hit to the second baseman to find herself safe at first and to score Norfleet from third. Pestrak came in as the second baseman mishandled the ball to give Florida the 6-1 win.

Florida pitcher sophomore Stacey Stevens (Gainesville, Fla.) struck out eight batters in the win to improve her record to 3-0 on the season.

The Gators come home for the first time in the2005 season next weekend as they host the GRU Classic Feb. 11-13. The Gators play their first game on Friday at 10 a.m. against Notre Dame.

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