Special report on the Florida Gators softball team:
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The No. 1-ranked University of Florida softball team clinched its third-straight SEC Regular Season Championship with a 9-0 shut out over No. 8 Tennessee at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium. Florida is only the third program to have won three-straight SEC Regular Season Championships.
The Gators (46-3, 20-2 SEC) secured the championship with their second-straight shutout against the Volunteers (41-8, 13-6SEC) and sixth in a row against an SEC opponent. It’s the first time in program history Florida has produced back-to-back shut outs over Tennessee in Knoxville.
At the leadoff position for the 31st time this season, sophomore Amanda Lorenz served as the catalyst for the Gators offense once again. Lorenz had a career day at the plate going 4-for-5 with two runs scored. Lorenz even had a hand in helping score a run for the Gators in the second inning when Sophia Reynoso scored on a high fly ball that popped out of Megan Geer’s glove in right field.
Lorenz was only one of three Gators to produce multi-hit games as senior Justine McLean tied her career-high with a 3-for-4 day with a pair of runs to go along with Aleshia Ocasio’s 2-for-4 performance with a pair of RBIs and a run scored.
The trio combined for nine of Florida’s 12 hits which was a season-high given up by Tennessee this season. The Volunteers had never given up more than nine hits in a game to an opposing team prior to today.
Ocasio, who produced her eighth multi-hit game, put Florida on the scoreboard in the first inning with her third triple of the season. Lorenz and Kayli Kvistad both scored on the play to give UF a 2-0 lead.
From there the Gators went on to score one run in the second, a run in the third and three in the fourth to put the game out of reach 7-0.
Jaimie Hoover was responsible for scoring Ocasio in the third on an RBI double and in the fourth a bases loaded SAC bunt by Wheaton to go along with an error by Chelsea Seggern at third base on a hard hit ball by Jordan Roberts scored two more.
Kvistad put the finishing touches on the contest with the team’s fourth extra base hit of the game. The Lake City, Fla. native ripped her 12th double of the season to score McLean and Jacqui Switzer and push the lead out to 9-0.
With a comfortable lead, Florida’s pitching once again silenced the Tennessee offense as starting pitcher Delanie Gourley (15-3) scattered a trio of hits and issued only one free pass via a hit batter in the top of the seventh.
Gourley tallied her 13th complete-game and ninth shutout of the season with five strikeouts.
The Gators have one more SEC game left in the regular season will look to close out the series against Tennessee tomorrow at 1 p.m. on ESPN2.
On the team winning the program’s third-straight SEC Championship…
“I’m extremely proud of our players’ preparation and their willingness to control their own destiny. I thought they really worked hard, prepared hard and played hard the last two days. To beat a good Tennessee team in Knoxville is a tough thing to do and I’m proud of our team for the way they competed and the way they handled the pressure of really having to win every game for a long time. I’m proud of them for just playing the game of softball and just really showing me a true image of what a total team looks like. It’s a big team championship and a big team win for our program.” – Tim Walton
- The Gators become only the third program to win three-straight SEC Regular Season Championships.
o LSU (’99, ’00, ’01 & ’02) & Alabama (’10, ’11 & ’12)
- Florida’s seven SEC Regular Season Championships leads the SEC (’98, ’08, ’09, ’13, ’15, ’16 & ‘17).
- Florida scored first for the 41st time this season and have outscored opponents 64-5 throughout the season and 20-1 in SEC play alone.
- Aleshia Ocasio produced her eighth multiple hit game of the season and third multi-RBI game of the year.
- Lorenz tallied her team-leading 18th multi-hit game of the season going 4-for-5 at the plate.
o The four hits is a career-high for the sophomore.
- Freshman Jacqui Switzer stole her 15th base of the season, which ties her for eighth in the Florida freshman record book with Michelle Moultrie.
- The Gators notched their 15th shutout and improved to 22-2 against Top 25 competition.
o Overall, Florida now has nation’s best 31 shutouts this season.