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Gators claim SEC softball title

Top seed Florida won its first SEC softball tournament title on Saturday in Baton Rouge, La., defeating Alabama 4-1.

Mary Ratliff's grand slam in the sixth inning won it for the Gators (60-2). Stacey Nelson struck out four and gave up a run on three hits for Florida, ranked No. 1 in the USA Today/coaches poll. Ali Gardiner tripled to right-center with one out and freshmen Megan Bush and Tiffany DeFelice drew full-count, two-out walks to load the bases. With a 2-2 count, Ratliff lifted the ball deep over the fence in rightfield.

"I knew the ball was going out when I hit it," Ratliff said. "I just get put in these opportunities because of how good my teammates are."

BIG EAST: USF lost 4-1 to DePaul in the tournament final in Louisville, Ky. The 2007 women's tennis team remains the only one at USF to win a Big East championship since the school joined the league in all sports for the 2005-06 season. The Bulls, as well as Florida State, await today's NCAA Tournament selection show (10 p.m., ESPNU) to find out if they landed an at-large bid.

ACC: Florida State was eliminated partly by Virginia Tech, partly by the elements. The Seminoles (37-26) fell 2-0 to the Hokies for their first loss — which came after the ACC switched the format to single elimination because rain the previous two days had backed up the schedule. Boston College and Georgia Tech, who lost Thursday, were eliminated without playing Saturday because of the format change.

C-USA: UCF won the title and an automatic NCAA berth, topping host and top seed Houston 4-2 behind Tiffany Lane's two-run homer in the sixth.

DIVISION II: Tampa eliminated Saint Leo from the South Region tournament, then was eliminated by host Barry in the final. Tampa (35-13) played three times Saturday, ousting Alabama-Huntsville 1-0 and the Lions (37-15) 2-0 as Cassie Barnes homered in the second, before falling 1-0.

Tennis

The host FSU men defeated Samford 4-0 without dropping a set in a completed match in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Seminoles (20-6) face South Alabama, a 4-3 winner over Alabama, at 1 today.

The host Florida men (16-8) opened the NCAAs with a 5-0 win over Navy and face Miami, a winner over USF, today. The Gators' top player, Greg Ouellette, won 6-0, 6-0. The Hurricanes (17-7) beat the Bulls 4-2. Michael Nusslein and Diego Toledo won singles matches for USF (14-7).

WOMEN: Host Florida reached the NCAA round of 16 for the 21st time in 22 years, defeating Auburn 4-0. Whitney Benik and Anastasia Revzina won in singles and doubles for the Gators (22-2), who face Vanderbilt on Thursday in Tulsa, Okla.

FSU was eliminated 5-2 by visiting Texas. Lauren Macfarlane and Tapiwa Marobela won in singles for the Seminoles (19-8).

Women's golf

Florida won the East Region in Athens, Ga., holding off Duke by a stroke. The Gators, rated fourth in the Golfweek rankings, shot 10-over 298 for 883 total to hold off the No. 3 Blue Devils. Tiffany Chudy (218, tied for seventh) led the Gators. The top eight from each region qualified for the NCAA Championships, May 20-23 in Albuquerque, N.M.

Florida State lost out on qualifying for the NCAAs in a playoff. The Seminoles and LSU tied for eighth at 38-over 902 at the Central Region in Austin, Texas. Caroline Westrup (215, tied for fifth) was FSU's top individual.

Elsewhere

BASEBALL: St. Petersburg College lost to Chipola 8-7 in the Region 8 Junior College tournament in Winter Haven, falling into the loser's bracket. SPC (37-19) faces Miami Dade at 1 today in an elimination game.

WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Dawn Staley was named coach at South Carolina, as the former WNBA all-star and Olympic gold medalist left Temple for a five-year contract worth at least $650,000 a year.

Gators claim SEC softball title 05/10/08 [Last modified: Sunday, May 11, 2008 12:01am]
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