Grand Slam Gets Gators off to Good Start

The No. 1 University of Florida Softball team earned a 7-2 win over Georgia Tech in the first round of NCAA Tournament action on Friday night. After a 90 minute rain delay, the Gators used a first inning grand slam by sophomore Francesca Enea to boost them to victory.

Florida (62-2) took an early 4-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Junior Kim Waleszonia led off the inning with a bunt single. Freshman Aja Paculba added a single through the left side. Junior Ali Gardiner drew a walk on a full count to load the bases. Enea stepped up to the plate and took the first pitch over the fence in left field for the second grand slam of her career. It was also her 15th home run of the season and put her within two of the school record. Her other career grand slam came last year against Georgia Tech in regional action. With one out, freshman Megan Bush added a base hit to left. Senior Mary Ratliff knocked a double to the left field fence. Bush attempted to come home on the hit, but was thrown out at home. On the throw home, Ratliff made a move to take third, but moved to go back to second and was caught in a run down for the third out of the inning.

Georgia Tech scored its first run in the top of the fourth. Savannah Brown led off the inning with a base hit deep in the infield. Florida junior pitcher Stacey Nelson had line drive from Whitney Haller hit off her right arm, but she picked it up to throw to Gardiner at first for the out. Nelson struck out the next batter for the second out of the inning, but a Gator error for the next batter allowed Brown to score from second to narrow Florida's lead to 4-1. The run was the first given up by the Gators in their last four regional games.

Florida tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the fourth to extend their lead to five runs. Ratliff led off the inning with a walk on four straight pitches. She moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by junior Kristina Hilberth. A base hit by sophomore Corrie Brooks moved Ratliff to third. Brooks moved to second on the play. Ratliff scored from third on a wild pitch. With two outs, a base hit to left by Paculba scored Brooks for the 6-1 Gator lead. Tiffany Johnson came in the game in relief of Georgia Tech starter Whitney Humphreys. Johnson gave up a walk to Gardiner before catching a line drive from Enea to end the inning.

The Yellow Jackets added a second run in the top of the fifth. Aileen Morales led off the inning with a double. She scored on a base hit to left center by Shimandle to narrow the Gator lead to 6-2.

Florida's final run came in the bottom of the sixth as Brooks took an 0-2 Johnson pitch over the center field fence for her second home run of the season and the 7-2 Gator lead.

Nelson improved to 41-2 with the win. She struck out seven batters, while giving up four hits and walking three Georgia Tech batters. Freshman Stephanie Brombacher pitched the final inning in relief of Nelson, striking out one batter and allowing a hit. Humphreys took the loss for Georgia Tech, giving up six runs in 3.2 innings. Johnson pitched the final 2.1 innings in relief.

Florida moves on to face UCF (47-18) in Saturday's first game at 1 p.m. UCF defeated USF in Friday's first game, 3-2. USF and Georgia Tech will face off at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday. The loser of the 1 p.m. game will face the winner of the 3:30 p.m. game at 6 p.m. in an elimination game. Video for all games in the Gainesville NCAA Regional is available through GatorVision Online. Each of Florida's games is broadcast live on WRUF AM 850 in Gainesville and on the web at and

Courtesy UF Sports Information

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