SOFTBALL: Gators extend winning streak to 9 games

One could say that the 19th-ranked Florida Gators women's softball team (9-0) left a few sugar addicts with a most unsatisfying feeling Friday afternoon in the GRU Classic at the Florida Softball Stadium.

The Gators were within an out of a shutout against Coastal Carolina, and shutouts mean everyone in the crowd can redeem their tickets for free coffee and doughnuts. The crowd was left craving the sugar and caffeine, however, as pitcher Amanda Knowles gave up a two-run home run, but even that disappointing ending to one game couldn't spoil a good day for the Gators. Florida's 7-2 thrashing of Coastal Carolina gave the Gators a two-game sweep in their home openers.

In Florida's first game of the day, the Gators had enough offense to support the strong right arm of Stacey Stevens, whose complete game, five-strikeout performance led UF to a 3-2 win over Notre Dame.

The victory raised Stevens to 4-0 on the season. Knowles also pitched a complete game and recorded eight strikeouts.

While the Gators played well, the lapse at the end when the Gators had a shutout on the line didn't settle well with Coach Karen Johns.

"There are some things that we still have to work on," Johns said. "We have to get better mentally and we need to stay focused and finish off each game because it's not every time we are going to get lucky."

Left fielder Lindsey Cameron equaled her homerun total of last year by hitting three solo home runs in the two games.

"She had some really good at bats last weekend and she just started staying back and driving the ball a lot better," Johns said. "She had some great swings and she has worked hard on it. All the hard work is really paying off for her."

Her two homeruns against Notre Dame made her the first in Gator history to hit two homeruns in a game twice. Her first two-homer game was against Kentucky her freshman year.

"It was a good day and when you're seeing it you're seeing it," Cameron said. "I just felt really confident in the box and compared to last year it is a great feeling to equal that already."

The two victories in the GRU Classic extended the Gators season opening winning streak to nine games. For Cameron and her teammates it's all about keeping the winning mentality going. Florida will face South Florida Saturday at 12:30.

"We're ready to go and tomorrow is going to be our tough challenge because we have some make up work to do against USF for regionals last year," said Cameron, recalling last year's season ending 8-1 loss to the Bulls in the NCAA Tournament.

"They are an instate rival and they are very well coached so it's always going to be a challenge," Johns said. "Their pitching is always tough and they will be high for us so we have to elevate to their level and be ready."

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