Special report on the Florida Gators softball team:
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – In a matchup of top-25 squads, the No. 1-ranked University of Florida softball team defeated No. 16 Tennessee, 5-0, on Friday night in the first home game of the Gators’ Southeastern Conference schedule. Sophomore Aleshia Ocasio (10-1) threw a complete game, two-hit shutout in front of a season-high crowd of 1,413.
Thanks to a 1-6-3 double play in the second inning, Ocasio faced the minimum 15 batters through five innings of work. In addition, UF shutout UT for the first time since March 11, 2012 and blanked the Vols in Gainesville for the first time since May 7, 2011.
Florida jumped on Tennessee early with three runs on two hits in the bottom of the first inning.
Seniors Kelsey Stewart and Kirsti Merritt kicked off the inning with a single and a walk to place runners on first and second base with no one out.
Freshman Amanda Lorenz followed with her team-leading eighth double of the season, which scored Stewart. After a sacrifice fly plated Merritt and moved Lorenz to third, the rookie came into score on an error by the UT catcher.
UF scored its only other runs in the third inning when Aubree Munro recorded an RBI single and Merritt notched an RBI base on balls.
The Vols had their best chance to score in the sixth, when UT had runners on first and third with one out. Ocasio bared down and forced back-to-back UT hitters to ground out and strikeout to end the inning.
Tennessee’s Matty Moss (6-2) started and shouldered the loss, but was one of three pitchers to throw in the game for the Volunteers.
News & Notes
*Florida is now tied with its 2011 and 2015 teams for the best start to a season in school history with a 28-1 record.
*UF has now outscored its opponents this season, 201-26.
*In 2015, UF had a plus-181 run differential (226-45) through 29 games.
*In 2014, UF had a plus-168 run differential (211-43) through 29 games.
*Florida’s 26 runs allowed through 29 games is tied for the second fewest in school history through this point in any season.
*UF’s 2009 squad allowed 21 tallies through 29 contests and Florida’s last two NCAA Championship teams had allowed 43 (2014) and 45 (2015) runs, respectively.
*The Gators have made just 11 errors this season and currently sport one of the best fielding percentages (.985) and earned run averages in the nation (0.86). For comparison, Florida had committed 20 errors in its first 29 contests last season and had a fielding percentage of .972. UF went on to record its best fielding percentage (.981) and commit just 33 errors, which were both school records.
*Florida’s senior class is now 201-29, which currently ranks ninth among four-year class records in program history.
Sitting eighth on this list UF’s 2008 graduating class that went 204-75 throughout its four seasons.
*Taylore Fuller, Kirsti Merritt, Aubree Munro, Taylor Schwarz and Kelsey Stewart are trying to catch UF’s 2011 class which boasted a 238-33 mark during their four years.
*Tim Walton is now just 20 wins away from his 600th win at Florida.
*Walton earned his 700th career win on March 12 at Auburn.
*Tonight’s game was broadcast on ESPNU. Florida posted a 15-5 record on national television a season ago and is now 3-1 so far this season.
Justine McLean – eight games (career long)
Amanda Lorenz – four games
Aubree Munro – three games (one shy of season long)
*UF did not allow a stolen base on Saturday, remaining the only team in the SEC who has yet to allow more than one stolen base in 2016.
*Auburn is second in the league with five stolen bases allowed.
*UF hitters have struck out 74 times on the year; each of the Gators’ three pitchers has 68+ strikeouts
(Delanie Gourley – 87, Kelly Barnhill – 90, Aleshia Ocasio – 72).
They are looking to become the second trio in school history to all record 100+ strikeouts in a season.
UF achieved this feat last season when Lauren Haeger (214), Aleshia Ocasio (155) and Delanie Gourley (105) all reached the century mark.
*Barnhill is looking to become the fifth Gator freshman in six years to record 100+ strikeouts.
*Gourley (9-0), Ocasio (10-1) and Barnhill (9-0) are also trying to become the third trio in three years and third school history to all recorded at least 10 wins.
*Florida recorded its 15th double play of the season in the second inning.
*Kayli Kvistad received Florida’s first intentional walk of the season in the second inning.
*Amanda Lorenz hit her team-leading eighth double of the season in the first inning.
Head Coach Tim Walton:
On Aleshia Ocasio and the game overall…
“I thought Aleshia (Ocasio) came out and did a really great job. She really set the tone for us early. Defensively, the team made some really nice plays behind her, as they made all the routine one’s look easy and they even made the hard plays look easy too. I thought we did a really good job. And then being able to get out of the gate and go up 3-0 was the key to the whole game for us.”
Despite today’s win, the Volunteers have won five of the past seven meetings between these two schools, but the Gators holds the all-time advantage in this series, 43-24, including a 23-5 mark in Gainesville.
Florida and Tennessee last met at the Women’s College World Series on May 28, 2015, when the Gators defeated the Vols in both squads’ opening game, 7-2.