Special report on the Florida Gators softball team:
ORLANDO, Fla. – The University of Florida softball team earned a pair victories over the University of Alabama at Birmingham (8-0, 5 innings) and Stephen F. Austin (6-2) on the first day of the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic in Orlando, Fla.
UF improved to 3-0 all-time over the Blazers and recorded its first ever win over the Ladyjacks.
Both junior Delanie Gourley and sophomore Aleshia Ocasio improved to 3-0 on the season, as the tandem combined for 16 strikeouts in 10.1 scoreless innings pitched on Friday.
Gourley through a complete game and defeated UAB, while Ocasio relieved freshman Kelly Barnhill in the second inning against SFA.
Offensively, Amanda Lorenz paced the Gators as she totaled three hits, two RBI and one run scored. The rookie is leading the team with a .524 batting average and has an SEC-leading 13 runs scored this season.
In addition, Lorenz is now tied with sophomore Janell Wheaton for the team lead in RBI (13).
Wheaton upped her total to 13 against the Blazers when she hit her second home run of season and third of her career in the fourth inning of that game.
Florida has now recorded six run-rule victories in its first eight games to start the season. The last time UF had a streak like this to start a season was 2012, when the Gators notched run-rule wins in eight of their first nine contests.
After allowing two runs against Stephen F. Austin, raising its opponents run total to three this season, the UF pitching staff and defense fell short of tying Florida’s 2009 squad for the fewest runs allowed to start a season through eight games.
Florida is back in action tomorrow for day two of the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic with a doubleheader against Omaha and Elon beginning at 1:15 p.m. Both games will be broadcast on WGGG-AM & WMOP-AM/FM. Check FloridaGators.com tomorrow for more info on these games.
Florida jumped on the Blazers early as it tallied five runs on three hits in the bottom of the first inning. That frame was highlighted by an Amanda Lorenz two-run single.
The other three runs were driven in by Kayli Kvistad (walk), Aubree Munro (groundout) and Justine McLean (single).
After a quick second inning, the Blazers had their greatest scoring opportunity in the third. Analyse Petree and Caitlin Attfield led off the inning with a pair of hits placing runners at second and third with no one out.
Gourley stay focused and induced two groundouts and recorded one strikeout to get out of the inning without any damage.
In the fourth after senior Taylore Fuller was hit by a pitch for the fifth time this season, sophomore Janell Wheaton hit her second homer of the season and third of her career to left field. Two batters later after a Nicole DeWitt walk, Kayli Kvistad hit an RBI double off the center field wall to score DeWitt and give the Gators its run-rule sized lead.
For the game, Gourley struck out nine Blazers, allowed just three hits and did not walk a batter. This was the second complete game shut out she had thrown this season.
After Florida failed to score in the first inning for the for just the second time this season, Stephen F. Austin got on the board in the bottom half, marking the first time all season UF had trailed in a game.
The Ladyjacks scored by way of a hit batter and three wild pitches.
In the second, SFA extended its lead to 2-0 after Peyton Tinney singled and moved into scoring position because of another wild pitch. SFA first baseman Brittany Lewis drove Tinney in with an RBI single up the middle.
Following the single, Courtney Chambers was hit by a pitch ending Kelly Barnhill’s night. The freshman totaled just two strikeouts in 1.2 innings pitched, while allowing two hits, two runs and two walks.
Sophomore Aleshia Ocasio relieved Barnhill and did not allow an SFA run the rest of the game. Ocasio tallied seven strikeouts in the final 5.1 innings and allowed just two hits and one walk.
In the third, Florida plated five runs all with two outs to take the lead.
During that inning, senior Kelsey Stewart led off by getting hit by a pitch and moving all the way to third on back-to-back groundouts. Stewart’s classmate Taylore Fuller scored her on an infield single.
After Janell Wheaton singled to put her and Fuller at the corners, a throwing error by the SFA catcher allowed both Gators to score. Later in the inning, senior’s Aubree Munro and Taylor Schwarz recorded RBI singles to cap the scoring.
UF added its final run of the night in the sixth when Schwarz recorded her second hit and RBI.
NEWS & NOTES
UF has now outscored its six opponents this season, 68-3.
A season ago, UF had a plus-58 run differential (68-10) through eight games.
Florida’s senior class is now 181-28 and trying to catch UF’s 2011 class which boasted a 238-33 mark during their four years.
Tim Walton is now just 17 wins away from his 700th win.
Florida recorded its third double play of the season when Taylor Schwarz caught a popup and doubled a runner off third base to end the third inning.
Schwarz has now turned 59 double plays in her career which is one of the school record set by Melissa Zick.
Justine McLean extended her career-long hit streak to six games against UAB.
The Gators are ranked at or near the top in every major pitching category and Florida is by far the best defensive team with its .995 fielding percentage and just one error allowed through its first eight games.
Florida now has a streak of 43 innings without committing an error.
Head Coach Tim Walton:
“It wasn’t our best softball, but I still like what we are doing defensively. We’re making plays and doing some nice things, as we had a great double play in the third inning [against Stephen. F Austin]. It was just a really nice play by Taylor Schwarz. Overall, I thought our at bats were good but we just have to sustain it. We have to be able carry the things we are doing well from one game to the next. I thought we hit some balls square as we’re not getting to big or throwing at bats away.”