SOFTBALL: Gators Drop 2 On Opening Day

HOUSTON, Texas --- The 19th-ranked Florida softball team lost its first two games of the season at the Wilson/DeMarini Invitational Friday afternoon. The Gators lost the first game 6-0 to Kansas and the second 5-4 to number 22 Oregon.

Senior Lindsey Cameron (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) started the season off right for the Gators offense as she dropped a double in left center in the first at bat of the season. She advanced to third on a Kansas error, but was not able to cross the plate.

Kansas was plated its first run of the game in the top of the second inning. Destiny Frankenstein drew the leadoff walk from Florida freshman pitcher Lindsay Littlejohn (Bartow, Fla.). She advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. A hit by Betsy Wilson that took a bad bounce off second allowed Frankenstein to score from second and give the Jayhawks a 1-0 lead.

Gator miscues in the field in the top of the third gave Kansas a three-run lead.

The Gators loaded the bases in the bottom of the fifth on consecutive base hits by senior Lindsay Norfleet (Madison, Fla.) and junior Shelley Stevens (Gainesville, Fla.) and a walk by senior Kristen Butler (Orlando, Fla.), but they could not push the run across the plate.

The Jayhawks hit two homers out of the park in the sixth and added another run in the seventh for the 6-0 victory.

Littlejohn took the loss for the Gators in her first collegiate outing. She pitched four innings, allowing two hits and three walks and giving up three runs, only one was earned. Junior Stacey Stevens (Gainesville, Fla.) pitched two innings in relief, giving up two runs. Sophomore Lisa Hasson (Seminole, Fla.) pitched the seventh for the Gators. Kassie Humphreys earned the win for Kansas. She recorded 10 strikeouts and gave up only one walk.

Oregon struck first in the bottom of the first inning in the Gators second game of the day. Breanne Sabol hit a home run to give her team the early 1-0 lead.

The Gators came back to score their first runs of the season in the top of the third. Norfleet led off the inning with a triple to right. Shelley Stevens followed with an infield hit to give the Gators runners at first and third. Norfleet crossed the plate on an RBI ground out by senior Stacie Pestrak (Gainesville, Fla.). Cameron hit a two-run homer out in left center to put the Gators up 3-1.

Oregon tied the game in the bottom of the fourth. Sabol hit her second home run of the game to bring the Ducks within one run of the Gators. Four straight Oregon hits scored Beth Boskovich to tie the game at 3-3.

The game stayed knotted at three until the top of the seventh. Pestrak led off the inning with a base hit back at the pitcher. Cameron reached on an error by the Oregon pitcher, allowing Pestrak to advance to third. With one out and runners on second and third, Butler was intentionally walked to load the bases for junior Melissa Zick (Tampa, Fla.). Zick reached on an error by the Oregon shortstop as Pestrak crossed the plate to put the Gators up 4-3.

Oregon came back to win the game in the final half inning. Kristi Leiter led off the inning with a base hit through the left side. She advanced to second on a sacrifice and scored on a base hit by Suzie Barnes. Barnes scored the winning run on a Florida error to win the game 5-4.

Freshman Stacey Nelson (Los Alamitos, Calif.) took the loss for Florida in game two. She struck out three batters in 6.3 innings of work. Any Harris pitched the last 1.1 innings in the win for Oregon.

Norfleet led the Gators offensively on the day with a 3-6 performance with a triple and a run scored in the two games. Shelley Stevens and Cameron were the other Gators with multiple hits on the day. Stevens finished the day 2-5 with a run scored and Cameron was 2-8 with a home run, a double, a run scored and two RBI.

"It was tough to lose these to games today," said Florida Coach Tim Walton. "The good news is that there are a lot of games left in the season. We just need to make plays. That is all it comes down to."

Florida will get a rematch with Oregon Saturday at noon and then face tournament host Houston at 4 p.m.

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