SOFTBALL: Gators Win Cox Communications Title

The Florida Gators softball team used solid defense and timely hitting to win back to back games Sunday afternoon at the UF Softball Stadium, capturing the championship of the Cox Communications Classic with a 5-1 record for the weekend.

The Gators of Coach Tim Walton beat Southern Miss 3-1 and Central Michigan 8-0 in the two Sunday games to improve their record this season to 17-6. Florida coach Tim Walton was happy with the Gators play over the weekend and their ability fight through adversity of playing their sixth and seventh games of the week.

"Anytime in game six and game seven of this week your going to find some fatigue and I didn't see our team fatigued," Walton said. "We made some key plays, if you can play good defense your always in a game."

Freshman Stacey Nelson (6-1) pitched a six-hitter to shut down Southern Miss in game one. She struck out five and walked just two while going the distance for the Gators.

Southern Miss struck first, taking a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Ashley Davis tripled in Jessica Huerta. Nelson regained her composure to shut down the Golden Eagles without further damage.

Florida answered in the bottom of the first. Melissa Zick was hit by a pitch and advanced to third when Lauren Roussell's grounder to third base was booted. Lacy Howard's single up the middle scored Zick and Roussell with the only runs Nelson would need.

The Gators gave Nelson some insurance in the third when Howard doubled home Roussell. The third RBI of the game matched Howard's career high.

Southern Miss threatened in the sixth, loading the bases with nobody out but Nelson got out of the jam with a little help from her friends in the field. Allison Bullard's fly ball to left was caught by Lindsay Cameron who gunned down Huerta at the plate with a perfect throw. Nelson got the third out on an infield pop and then pitched a scoreless seventh to secure the win.

Nelson credited her teammates for playing great defense throughout the game.

"Defense is key right there," Nelson said. "I wasn't trying to overthrow the ball I knew that my defense would pick me up so I was just trying to throw grounders and pop ups."

Florida made quick work of Central Michigan in the second game, ripping ten hits in the 8-0 win that was ended on the mercy rule in the fifth inning.

Florida struck for three runs in the first on a triple by Howard that drove home Roussell, Zick and Cameron. Howard had a 4-5 day at the plate with six runs batted in.

The Gators exploded for five more runs in the fourth inning to put the game away. Florida managed four hits with the big blow a three-run home run by senior catcher Kristen Butler. Butler's homer was her team-leading ninth of the season. Butler was very pleased with the way the Gators played over the weekend.

"With the other batters stepping up it's allowing for everyone to get good pitches and there not pitching around people." Butler said. "It's also good knowing that if I'm struggling this weekend the other hitters in the lineup are able to pick me up, so that's a good feeling."

Stacey Stevens pitched four innings, allowing just three hits to pick up her seventh win in eight decisions. The four shutout innings dropped her team-leading earned run average to 1.70 and dropped the team ERA to 2.16.

The Gators open SEC play Tuesday at Alabama.

Fightin Gators Top Stories