Special report on the Florida Gators softball team
TAMPA, Fla. – The University of Florida softball team began its 2016 season with an 11-0 (5 innings) win over Illinois State on Friday at the USF Wilson-DeMarini Tournament. Five UF players recorded a multi-RBI game, three Gators scored a pair of runs and two had two hits.
Delanie Gourley, who tossed the third one-hitter of her career, threw a five-inning shutout in the circle for the Gators. The junior recorded eight strikeouts but did walk four Redbird hitters.
Offensively, Florida had 11 hits, all singles, and worked eight walks.
Florida scored twice in the top of the first inning on four walks and a hit-by-pitch. Nicole DeWitt and Kayli Kvistad, who worked an 11-pitch at bat, recorded both RBI in that frame.
Illinois State threatened in the bottom of second inning, as Payton Billups and Allison Spence led off the frame with a single and a walk. Following that frame, Gourley did not allow a runner to get into scoring position the rest of the game.
In the third, UF extended its lead to 5-0 on RBI singles from DeWitt, Kvistad and Aubree Munro. Later in the frame with the bases loaded, seniors Kirsti Merritt and Taylore Fuller put the game out of reach with a pair of two-run hits to give the Gators an insurmountable 9-0 lead.
Florida tacked on a pair of runs in the fifth on a Janell Wheaton single, which brought us to our final score of 11-0.
NEWS & NOTES
* Florida won its season opener for the 10th consecutive year dating back to 2007.
* UF improved to 19-1 all-time in the season’s first game.
* UF improved to 25-1 when playing in Tampa/Clearwater during the season’s first weekend since 2010 (only loss: Feb. 13, 2010, 3-0 vs. Georgia Tech).
* The Gators scored 10+ runs on Opening Day for the fifth time in five seasons and the eighth time in program history.
* Florida’s senior class is now 174-28 and trying to catch UF’s 2011 class which boasted a 238-33 mark during their four years.
* Tim Walton is now just 24 wins away from his 700th. He currently ranks 42nd overall among active coaches in total wins.
* All 11 Florida hits were singles.
* Kirsti Merritt recorded the Gators first hit of the 2016 season in the top of the second inning.
* Delanie Gourley tossed the third one-hitter of her career and the 58th in Florida history.
* Amanda Lorenz scored her first two runs of her collegiate career tonight. The freshman reached base both times by way of a walk.
* Florida is now 5-2 all-time against Illinois State and winners of five straight. These two squads have played four times in the last three seasons, and Florida has won those contests by a combined score of 26-3. Prior to 2012, the Gators only saw ISU twice in 2007, falling 1-0 both times.
* UF and ISU will play each other two other times during the regular season, as the Redbirds will come to Gainesville for the Aquafina Invitational in early March.
Head Coach Tim Walton:
“I was happy to see not only the returners get back in their uniforms again, but our newcomers as well. Delanie [Gourley] threw a good game tonight, despite not having her best stuff, she competed and made pitches when she had too. I thought we did a good job on defense too, however, I would like to see some better defensive communication. I want to see them talk some shop a bit more, as I went to feel the tempo and intensity from the dugout. Offensively, I thought we did a good job, especially with two outs. Overall moving forward, we will just chalk this up to our first game as we got a bunch of hits and scored a bunch of runs, but there is still a lot of improvement to be made.”