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Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Gators remain perfect with doubleheader sweep against Mercer

The No. 10 Gators (7-0) picked up their first two home wins of the season on Wednesday.

UF defeated Mercer (1-3) 5-0 in the first game before taking just five innings to blow out the Bears 12-1 in the second.

With the sun still up in Pressly Stadium, All-American Stacey Nelson pitched her best game of the young season.

Nelson took a no-hitter into the sixth inning of the first game when it was broken up - with two outs - by a bloop single.

"Those hits are really frustrating, whether it's the tenth hit of the game or the first hit," she said.

Nelson finished the game allowing only two base runners - that single and a walk in the fourth inning. Wednesday marked the ninth time she has thrown a one-hitter, and the junior was a little disappointed about not closing out the remarkable feat.

"I hate to say it, but I don't think I'm ever going to get a no-hitter," she said.

Behind a stellar performance from inside the circle, the rest of the team contributed plenty from the batter's box.

Junior first baseman Ali Gardiner went 2 for 2 and drove in three runs while sophomore outfielder Francesca Enea delivered her first big hit of the season - a towering two-run bomb that easily cleared the deepest part of the park in center field.

Enea said she was very aware of the fact that she only had one hit coming into that at-bat and just tried to hit the ball solidly after UF coach Tim Walton called for a hit-and-run.

The Gators' explosive offense stole the show in the second game.

Freshman Stephanie Brombacher took a 2-0 lead into the top of the fourth when Mercer left fielder Holly Oglesbee drove a ball over Enea's head in right field for an RBI double.

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That run was the first Brombacher has surrendered in her short career.

The 2-1 lead quickly opened up when the Gators' offense scored 10 runs in the bottom of the inning.

Freshman Kristine Priebe started the offensive barrage by slamming a double off of the left-field wall for the first hit of her career.

Three singles later, with Priebe having already scored, senior Mary Ratliff came in to pinch hit for Le-Net Franklin. After struggling through a 0-for-3 performance in the first game, Ratliff drove a hard ground ball back up the box, finding green grass and scoring two runs.

UF would go on to record a total of eight hits and force two Mercer pitching changes before closing out the game in the top of the fifth due to the mercy rule.

Enea had a 2-for-2 game, including a two-run double.

"I finally found some holes," she said.

Walton was pleased with his team's performance after the doubleheader but quickly dismissed the importance of moving up in the polls.

"It's good to be ranked where we're ranked just for notoriety and recruiting and those sorts of things," he said. "But it has no bearing on what we do each day."

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