Florida Gators softball opens SEC play with a Win

Special report on the Florida Gators softball team:

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Behind Delanie Gourley’s third complete-game one-hitter, the No. 3-ranked University of Florida softball team opened Southeastern Conference play with a 6-0 victory over No. 24 Missouri at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium Saturday, March 11.

Florida (21-1, 1-0 SEC) produced its NCAA leading 14th shutout of the season en route to the victory over Missouri (11-9, 0-1 SEC). Gourley hurled a gem as she recorded 10 strikeouts with only one walk and a hit through 24 batters on the day. The Lakeside, Calif. native retired the first 15 batters in consecutive order and didn’t allow a base runner until the sixth inning.

Offensively, leadoff batter Amanda Lorenz set the tone for the Gators lineup going 3-for-4 at the plate with a run scored and a walk.

The Gators opened up the scoring in the third with a big inning that produced four runs.  It all started with a four-pitch walk from senior outfielder Justine McLean. Lorenz pushed McLean to second base with a hard hit single up the middle of the Tigers defense and junior Kayli Kvistad eventually loaded the bases with a one-out walk.

The stage was set for freshman Jaimie Hoover, who already has a pair of grand slams to her credit this season. Missouri pitcher Madi Norman respected the young freshman’s power at the plate and pitched around her for an RBI walk on four-straight balls. Hoover’s 12th walk of the season scored McLean from third for the first run of the game.

After hitting .667 at the Judi Garman Classic last weekend, junior catcher Janell Wheaton continued her offensive explosion for the Gators. Wheaton extended Florida’s lead out to 3-0 with a well-placed two-RBI single through the left side of the Missouri defense to score Kvistad and Hoover.

Jordan Roberts capped of the scoring with an RBI double to left field that scored Nicole DeWitt.

In the fourth, with a defensive shift from Missouri that brought in left fielder Natalie Fleming as a fifth infielder, the lefty slapper McLean found a chink in the Missouri defense to lead off the inning with an infield single. McLean quickly swiped her 11th base of the season to move into scoring position for hot-hitting Lorenz.

Lorenz produced with her third-consecutive hit of the game as she ripped her fifth double of the season to the gap in left center field, which allowed the speedy McLean to score. To cap the inning, Florida pushed across its final run of the game on line drive RBI single to center field by DeWitt that scored Lorenz.

Game two of the SEC Opening Weekend series against No. 24 Missouri is scheduled to take place Sunday, March 12, at 6 p.m. The game can be viewed live onESPNU.

Coaches Corner

On Amanda Lorenz continuing to set the tone from her leadoff spot in the lineup…
“You know it seems to me once she was able to get over the injury from earlier in the season she’s been a little bit more comfortable. We moved her to the leadoff spot, which is the spot that she wants and it’s a spot she’s kind of played in and batted in for five years before she got here. So she definitely seems to be more comfortable now.” – Tim Walton

From the Players
On what was working for her in the circle…
“I really felt like everything. The main thing is that my timing was good. When you are gone for a long time and flying you can kind of get a little messed up but I came out, everything felt good, felt hot so I was ready to go.” – Delanie Gourley

On being the leadoff batter…
“I just tried to set a good tone. I really like leading off the game and getting it going for my team especially with our pitchers working so hard. I want to get the game started on a good note, just to feed positive energy back to our team. We gel so well, so it is really exciting when you get one hit and it really comes together. So just trying to do that for my team and as the leadoff it makes the rest of the game a lot easier.” – Amanda Lorenz

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Andrew Spivey
Andrew always knew he wanted to be involved with sports in some capacity. He began by coaching high school football for six years before deciding to pursue a career in journalism. While coaching, he was a part of two state semifinal teams in the state of Alabama. Given his past coaching experience, he figured covering recruiting would be a perfect fit. He began his career as an intern for Rivals.com, covering University of Florida football recruiting. After interning with Rivals for six months, he joined the Gator Country family as a recruiting analyst. Andrew enjoys spending his free time on the golf course and watching his beloved Atlanta Braves. Follow him on Twitter at @AndrewSpiveyGC.