Special report on the Florida Gators softball team:
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Florida softball team completed the series sweep of No. 23 Kentucky with a 4-0 victory at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium Sunday afternoon.
The Gators (22-1, 3-0 SEC) manufactured the runs with the help of four SAC bunts and a home run. Kelly Barnhill (11-0) tallied nine strikeouts while allowing four hits and a walk en route to her sixth complete-game shutout of the season.
Florida scored in the first inning for 16th time this season and took a 1-0 lead over Kentucky (15-6, 0-3 SEC) thanks to an RBI single down the left line by Jordan Matthews. Hannah Adams scored on the play after she reached on a full-count walk to lead off the game and moved into scoring position on a SAC bunt by Nicole DeWitt.
The Gators extended the lead out to 3-0 in the third inning. With two outs and nobody on, DeWitt nearly hit her sixth home run of the season, but the ball bounced off the top of the padding in center field back into play for a double.
Amanda Lorenz hit her fourth home run of the year with a shot that went off the top of the scoreboard in left center field to score herself and DeWitt. Not only did Lorenz make plays at the plate, but she made a highlight worthy grab over the wall in foul territory in the second inning.
Florida manufactured their final run of the game in the sixth to go ahead 4-0 over Kentucky. Janell Wheaton worked a full-count walk to start the frame and was replaced by pinch runner Haven Sampson.
Ocasio put down a SAC bunt to move Sampson into scoring position and pinch hitter Danielle Romanello moved runners to the corners with a single up the middle.
Sophia Reynoso then executed a perfect squeeze bunt to plate Sampson for the final run of the game.
The Gators return to action next weekend when the team travels to Athens, Ga. to take on No. 11 Georgia.
On how tough it is to come out with a sweep in SEC play…
“It’s tough, Kentucky did a really good job calling pitches this whole weekend and made it tough on our hitters to get comfortable. There was nothing predictive; we had to earn everything we got this weekend offensively. Kelly (Barnhill) and Aleshia (Ocasio) pitched great and defensively we were really, really sharp.”
On the defensive performances today and Amanda Lorenz’s catch over the wall…
“We spend a lot of time on our defense and we work really hard on trying to make everything routine. It’s obviously nice to sit in the dugout and know that if they hit a ground ball or a fly ball, it’s an out, and then be able to top that off with a couple of special plays. We practice those, so hopefully they become routine too. It’s something that the outfielders work on every single day, whether it be a fair home run ball or a foul home run ball, they’re working hard to jump over fences and make a play. I’m really happy to see that translate from games to practice.”
· The Gators improved their all-time series record to 52-14 over the Wildcats.
o It’s first time that UF has swept UK in a series dating back to 2015.
· The team improved to 7-1 on the season with six shutouts against Top 25 competition.
o The Gators also improved to 4-0 when playing on network television.
· Florida scored in the first inning for the 16th time, out of 23 games played, this season.
· The Gators have now recorded a shutout in 17 of their 23 games played.
· Kelly Barnhill improved her scoreless inning streak to 36.1 innings pitched.
o She now has 25 complete-game shutouts over her career, which ranks sixth all-time at UF. Chelsey Sakizzie (1997-’98) ranks fifth with 27 career complete-game shutouts.