Special report on the Florida Gators softball team:
TAMPA, Fla. – The No. 2-ranked Florida softball team picked up a pair of victories over No. 18 Michigan, 2-0, and Georgia State, 11-0, during the second day of the USF Wilson-DeMarini Tournament.
The Gators have now shut out all three of their opponents for to start the 2018 season and in the final game picked up the team’s second combined one-hitter of the season.
Junior Kelly Barnhill and freshman Natalie Lugo combined for the one-hitter against Georgia State to cap the day.
Overall, Florida has 97 one-hitters in throughout the program’s history. That record encompasses individual complete-game one-hitters (73) and combined one-hitters (24).
No. 18 Michigan vs. No. 2 Florida | Final Score – W, 2-0
Florida defeated Michigan for the fifth-consecutive season in Tampa during opening weekend.
The matchup between the two top 25 programs came down to a pitcher’s duel for the second straight year. Last season the Gators bested the Wolverines 2-1 over 10 innings and a clutch two RBI single with two outs by Sophia Reynoso in the fourth inning was the difference in the contest today.
Reynoso’s single to center field scored Janell Wheaton and Alex Voss, who entered to run for Jordan Roberts out of the flex position in the lineup. Wheaton singled and Roberts drew a walk to reach base in the inning.
Aleshia Ocasio came in relief of starter Kelly Barnhill and provided another quality pitching performance. Ocasio scattered three hits and struck out four on 52 pitches. The St. Cloud, Fla. native induced nine ground balls, which allowed a stout Gators defense to work throughout the game.
Reynoso went 2-for-2 in the game after finishing 3-for-3 last night against Illinois State.
No. 2 Florida vs. Georgia State | Final Score – W, 11-0
The Gators pitching dominance continued in the following game against Georgia State. Barnhill received the nod to start in the circle once again and pitched three quality innings. The Marietta, Ga. native only relinquished one hits while striking out a pair of Panthers.
Freshman Natalie Lugo cleaned up the final two innings in her collegiate debut. The West Covina, Calif. native fanned two batters without allowing a Panther to reach base.
Offensively, Florida exploded for 11 runs on nine hits. Junior Amanda Lorenz went 1-for-2 with a pair of walks, two runs scored and an RBI.
Freshman Hannah Adams also scored a pair of runs after going 2-for-3 at the plate from the leadoff spot in the lineup.
The Gators exploded in the second inning with seven runs. Seniors Kayli Kvistad, Aleshia Ocasio and Nicole DeWitt combined for 6 of the RBIs.
Extra base hits by Kvistad, a double down the left line plated two runs, while Ocasio hit a three-run home run over the right field wall to cap the inning.
The Gators return to action tomorrow with another pair of games against UAB (1:30 p.m.) and host school USF (4:15 p.m.)
On the team’s overall performance today…
“It was good. We have played three games total and we’ve gotten 17 of our 19 players on the roster playing time. So we almost got everybody in the game, everybody has contributed to our wins and I think our pitching and catching has been really good so far. I’m happy with the game we have been calling and Janell (Wheaton) and Jordan (Roberts) have done a quality job catching Aleshia (Ocasio), Kelly (Barnhill), Natalie (Lugo) and Katie (Chronsiter).”
On what the team needs to do to continue to improve…
“I told my team from the very beginning that each game is going to get tougher, not only because of the number of games that we play, but because we have got some pretty good teams on our schedule ahead of us. So we have to really work hard to make sure we do a good job with our recovery.
“Tomorrow is going to be a tough day – both teams are good offensively and are aggressive on the bases. So we are just going to have to do a good job of coming out and limiting free bases. If we can do that then we are tough to beat, because our pitching is quality.”
* The Gators picked up their 97th overall one-hitter in program history.
o Also, it was the 24th combined one-hitter for the program.
o It was the first time Florida has thrown combined one-hitters in consecutive days.
* Freshman Natalie Lugo made her first collegiate appearance and recorded a pair of shutout innings against Georgia State.
* Sophia Reynoso is hitting .625 (5-for-8) with a double, four RBI and two runs scored through three games.
o Started the season recording a hit in her first five at-bats.
* Freshmen Haven Sampson and Josie Page received their first collegiate action with appearances against Georgia State.