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Tuesday, June 06, 2023

Nelson runs scoreless innings steak to 39 2/3 in shutout against Stetson

In the English language, a word or number that reads the same forward and backward is a palindrome.

In softball, there's one letter that reads the same forward and backward in the box score - K.

Swinging or looking, Stacey Nelson mixed the variety of her strikeouts with the same effectiveness as her pitches.

For every Hofstra player rung up on a swing and miss, there was another punched out with the bat frozen on their shoulder.

"Strikeouts feel the same as the other outs," Nelson said when asked about tying her career high for strikeouts in a single game, 12.

Nelson, the reigning Southeastern Conference Pitcher of the Week, continued the most dominant stretch in UF history inside the circle when she recorded her third consecutive shut out and the Gators (14-0) won 5-0 against the Pride on Wednesday.

The right-handed hurler extended her school-record scoreless innings streak to 39 2/3 innings, shattering her record of 29.

"It's a tremendous amount of confidence to sit in the dugout or sit on the bucket and know that she's going to give us her best," said UF coach Tim Walton. "Most of the time, not all the time, her best is good enough to beat almost anybody."

In this case, Hofstra (3-2) fell in the category of anybody.

Nelson, who can now add a preseason All-SEC First Team selection to her long list of accolades, needed just one run from UF's offense to improve her record to a perfect 7-0.

The first of UF's five runs came on the first pitch in the bottom of the fourth inning.

Center Francesca Enea hit a towering home run that seemed to clear the wall before Kanye West's "Flashing Lights" - the song that plays over the loudspeaker before each of her at-bats - could finish.

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The Gators went on to score two more runs off Hofstra errors before leadoff hitter Kim Waleszonia flashed some power, hitting an RBI double into the left-field gap that scored Corrie Brooks from first.

In the fifth inning, UF would extend the lead by manufacturing a run with its base running.

Freshman Ali Paculba lead off the inning with a walk and later stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by the Pride catcher.

After Enea drew a walk, Walton put on a double steal in which Enea stopped running before second base, sacrificing herself in order to allow Paculba to score from third.

Two innings later, it was all high-fives and handshakes as the No. 7 Gators improved their best start in school history to 14-0.

Following the game, Walton made a point to comment on what he felt was the most important part of Nelson's pitching prowess.

"She really shows me a lot of stuff from her teammates," he said. "Her teammates really enjoy playing behind her."

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