Special to GC
Starkville, Miss. – The No. 3-ranked University of Florida softball team defeated Mississippi State, 16-2 (5 innings), on Saturday in the second game of the teams’ three-game series at the MSU Softball Field. An historic 11-run first inning set the tone for the Gators, who secured a road series victory for the second straight weekend.Aleshia Ocasio worked the first three innings to earn the win, improving to 11-2 on the season.
Florida hit a first-inning home run for the second consecutive day as Kelsey Stewart launched a 3-1 pitch over the right-field fence to lead off the game. The momentum continued for the Orange and Blue (32-3, 5-3 Southeastern Conference) as UF finished the inning with 11 runs on five hits, drawing five walks and three hit-by-pitches. Eight of Florida’s nine starters reached base in the frame, with Nicole DeWitt (single and double) knocking a pair of run-scoring hits.
The Gators loaded the bases again with one out in the third before a walk to Stewart forced in Janell Wheaton, who had replaced Taylore Fuller for her second at-bat in the first inning. Kayli Kvistad drew another free pass with the bases loaded with two outs in the inning, scoring Justine McLean and making the score 13-0.
An RBI double to left-center in the bottom of the third produced the first run of the game for MSU (24-10, 4-7 SEC). Florida loaded the bases in the fourth when DeWitt singled, McLean reached on an error and Ocasio walked. That brought up Stewart, who singled to left to bring home the two California natives and raise the lead to 15-1.
The Bulldogs put a runner at second on a two-base error to start the bottom of the fourth, and MSU notched its second run of the game two batters later on a one-out triple down the right-field line. Defensive substitute Aubree Munro got the run back for Florida in the fifth with a one-out home run to left field, making the score 16-2 and producing the final margin in the Gators’ mercy-rule victory.
STAR OF THE GAMES
- Kelsey Stewart: The Wichita, Kan., native set a career high with five RBI (previous: 4 vs. Stetson, 5/17/14 – NCAA Regional) while knocking three hits, scoring twice and stealing a base.
- Nicole DeWitt: The freshman had two RBI hits during the 11-run first inning, and added another single in the fourth before scoring on a base hit by Stewart.
- Kayli Kvistad: The first-year utility player drove in four runs and scored twice, drawing a career-high three walks.
- The 11-run first inning marked Florida’s first frame with 10 or more runs scored since the Gators also plated 11 against USF in the second inning on April 23, 2014, in Gainesville.
- The 11 first-inning runs for the Orange and Blue are the Gators’ most in the opening frame of a game since they scored 11 against Gardner-Webb on March 3, 2012.
- The outburst to open the game marked UF’s biggest first inning against an SEC opponent since June 5, 2011, when the Gators scored 11 runs against Alabama at the Women’s College World Series.
- UF earned its biggest SEC win since an 18-3 (5 innings) win at Ole Miss on March 19, 2011.
- Florida sent 17 batters to the plate in the opening frame.
- The Gators loaded the bases in each of the first four innings.
- The leadoff home run for Stewart was her first homer of the season.
- The solo shot was the junior’s third career leadoff home run (last: 4/20/14 at Texas A&M).
- The second baseman had three hits, marking her team-best 14th multi-hit game of the season.
- DeWitt had three hits on the day to record her first career three-hit game.
- The Garden Grove, Calif., native had two RBI for her third multi-RBI game of the year.
- Kvistad drove in four runs in a game for the third time in her career, representing her fifth multi-RBI game.
- Munro’s homer was her second of the year (last: 2/14 vs. Iowa).
The UF-MSU series concludes Sunday at noon ET. Live streaming will be available to subscribers on SEC Network+ via WatchESPN. WGGG (1230-AM) will have the radio broadcast with Corey Brooks and former Gator All-American Megan Bush on the call. In addition, live stats links can be found on the schedule page on GatorZone.com