Lorenz home run lifts Florida Gators softball to sweep

Report on the Florida Gators softball team:

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Freshman Amanda Lorenz hit a walk-off two-run home run in the bottom of the 10th inning to help No. 1 Florida defeat Mississippi State, 3-1 (10 innings), on Sunday to sweep its fourth SEC series of the season. Florida is now 2-0 in extra-inning games this season and Sunday’s 10-inning affair marked UF’s longest game since the Gators played a 15-inning marathon with Nebraska on June 1, 2013 at the Women’s College World Series.

Florida (45-3/15-3 SEC) swept a three-game series against the Bulldogs (24-23/3-15 SEC) for the first time since April 4-5, 2009. In addition, this was fourth time in school history that Florida completed a three-game sweep of Mississippi State. Florida, who’s currently in first place in the SEC standings, holds a 15-3 mark in conference play for the first time since 2012 when the Gators were 16-2 through 18 league games.

The Gators are now 3-0 in extra-inning games against the Bulldogs, as they last played an extra inning game on April 28, 2007 in Gainesville.

Pitching and defense reigned supreme early, as both squads were hitless through three innings.

Florida recorded the game’s first hit in the fourth, but Mississippi State scored the game’s first run in the fifth. MSU’s Sarai Nui began the fifth with a solo home run to center to break the scoreless tie.

Undaunted, Florida answered in the sixth.

Senior Kirsti Merritt tied the game up at one run apiece with a sacrifice fly. Senior Kelsey Stewart led off the inning with a single up the middle and scored on Merritt’s fly out to right.

The game was knotted at one run apiece until Lorenz recorded her second home run of the week and her sixth of the season to left-center field in the 10th inning.

After allowing just the one run and one hit through five innings, freshman Kelly Barnhill was relieved by junior Delanie Gourley (15-2) in the sixth. Florida’s left-hander tossed five of scoreless innings and allowed just two hits, while recording seven strikeouts.

Against Mississippi State this weekend, Gourley tossed 12 scoreless innings and allowed just two hits, while registering 12 strikeouts, two wins and one save.

Team Notes

* With Sunday’s win, Florida is now 45-3 and still holds the highest win percentage (.938) in the country.

* Florida, who’s currently in first place in the SEC standings, holds a 15-3 mark in conference play for the first time since 2012 when the Gators were 16-2 through 18 league games.

* Florida’s senior class is now 218-31, which currently ranks fifth among four-year class records in program history.

o Sitting fourth on this list is UF’s 2015 graduating class that went 221-41 throughout its four seasons.

o 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 three wins away from his 600th win at Florida.

o Walton earned his 700th career win on March 12 at Auburn<http://floridagators.com/news/2016/3/13/softball-wins-result-in-great-relationships.aspx?path=softball>.

* Sunday’s game was broadcast on SEC Network. Florida is now 7-1 in contests that broadcast on national television.

* Florida is now 29-0 against unranked opponents this season.

Stat Watch

* UF has now outscored its opponents this season, 295-47.

o In 2015, UF had a plus-255 run differential (342-87) through 48 games.

o In 2014, UF had a plus-221 run differential (325-104) through 48 games.

* Florida’s 47 runs allowed through 48 games is the second fewest in school history through this point in any season.

o UF’s 2009 squad allowed 40 tallies through 48 contests and Florida’s last two NCAA Championship teams had allowed 85 runs each, respectively.

* The Gators have made just 20 errors this season and currently sport one of the best fielding percentages (.984) and earned run averages in the nation (0.85). For comparison, Florida had committed 27 errors through 48 contests last season and had a fielding percentage of .978.UF went on to record a .981 fielding percentage and commit just 33 errors, which are both school records.

* Florida’s astounding 0.85 team ERA (312.2 IP) would go down as the second-best ERA for a single season in program history if the season ended today.

* Top ERA Season’s in UF History:

o 2008 – 0.92 ERA (512.0 IP)

o 2009 – 0.69 ERA (444.0 IP)

* Florida’s miniscule .1569 batting average against (312.2 IP) would go down as the best b/avg. for a single season in program history if the season ended today.

* Top B/Avg. Season’s in UF History:

o 2008 – 0.176 b/avg. (512.0 IP)

o 2009 – 0.161 b/avg. (444.0 IP)

* UF did not allow a stolen base on Sunday, remaining the only team in the SEC who has yet to allow more than three stolen bases in 2016.

o In addition, three stolen bases is the fewest Florida has allowed in school history through 48 games.

o Florida’s opponents have only attempted to steal nine bases against Aubree Munro and Florida’s catchers this season. That mark would shatter Florida’s school record of 25 attempts that was set in 2015.

? In addition, UF’s stolen-base-against percentage of 33% (3-9) this season would be the lowest in school history if the season ended today. Florida’s 2003 team currently holds that mark as they allowed just 51.7% (31-60) of runners to steal a base safely.

Pitching Notes

* Aleshia Ocasio (16-1), Kelly Barnhill (14-0) and Delanie Gourley (15-2) are looking to become the first trio in school history to all record at least 15 wins in a season.

* Gourley (157), Barnhill (137) and Ocasio (110) are the second trio in school history to all record 100+ strikeouts in a season. They are trying to become the first trio in school history to all record 150+ strikeouts in a season.

* Florida’s trio of pitchers are looking to become the second group to all throw at least 100 innings in a single season.

o UF’s 2002 group of Amanda Moore (174.2 IP), Amanda Knowles (113.2) and Mandy Schuerman (105.0 IP) last achieved this feat.

o Innings pitched totals = Delanie Gourley – 113.2, Aleshia Ocasio – 107.0, , Kelly Barnhill – 92.0

o Ocasio (136.0, 2015) and Gourley (107.2, 2014) have each achieved this feat once before in their careers.

* Florida’s pitching trio has combined to allow just 47 runs, while they have totaled 404 strikeouts. Both of those numbers lead the SEC.

o Only two teams in Florida history have ever allowed less than 100 runs in a single season. UF’s 2009 squad allowed just 67 runs and its 2008 team allowed 94 tallies.

o Florida’s 404 strikeouts currently ranks ninth all-time in program history for strikeouts in a single season.

* Ocasio (0.65) and Gourley (0.68) entered this week with the No. 1 and No. 4 ERAs in the country and Barnhill is fourth in strikeouts per game (10.9).

* Gourley’s astounding 0.68 ERA (113.2 IP) would go down as the second-best ERA for a single season in Florida history if the season ended today.

o Stacey Nelson currently holds the top two single season ERAs in program history, as she recorded a 0.61 ERA (285.1 IP) in 2009 and 0.75 (352.2 IP) in 2008.

* Kelly Barnhill, who currently holds a miniscule 1.29 ERA, is challenging Stephanie Brombacher’s freshman record 1.40 ERA that she achieved in 2008.

o Barnhill’s opponent’s batting average against her is an astounding .138 (92.0 IP) would go down as the best b/avg. in Florida history if the season ended today.

? Jenny Gladding currently holds the top single season opponent batting average against in program history, as she recorded a .146 b/avg. in 2004.

* Other freshman ranks that Barnhill is climbing into:

o Wins – 6th (14)

o Strikeouts – 4th (137)

Hitting Notes

* Hitting Streaks:

o Kelsey Stewart – four games (three shy of season long)

* After scoring one run on Sunday night, Kelsey Stewart is now just six runs shy of Aja Paculba’s school record 253.

* In addition, Kelsey Stewart is now one total base shy of Lauren Haeger’s program record 494.

* Kayli Kvistad and Amanda Lorenz are challenging for the top on-base percentage in school history, as they each have recorded an OBP of .539 and .508 thus far this season.

o Bailey Castro set the program record a season ago when she reached base at a .536 clip.

* Amanda Lorenz, who’s currently hitting .387, is on pace to record the highest batting average for a freshman in school history. In addition, she could become the first rookie in program history to have an on-base percentage over .500.

o Kelsey Stewart holds the batting title as she hit .378 during her freshman season in 2013.

* Other freshman ranks that Lorenz is climbing into:

o Runs Scored – 7th (44)

o Doubles – T-7th (10)

o Walks – 6th (36)

Coaches’ Corner

Head Coach Tim Walton

On the game overall:

“I think it was a really well played ball game by both teams. I looked up at the scoreboard early in the game and there was no hits and no runs scored and no errors by either team through the first few innings. We got the two hits and they came back with one in the homerun, but overall it was just a really well played ball game.”

On the game-winning home run by Amanda Lorenz:

“That’s what we brought her in for and that’s why she’s batting in the spot she’s in. She’s a good player, she’s a good hitter. Those memories and those moments don’t go away. To have the ability to win ball games like that, with a home run, those things don’t ever go away. Instead, they keep getting bigger and bigger. I think that’s the one thing you don’t know what pulse a kid has until they actually step up and do something like that. It was a clean swing, lefty on lefty. Amanda was hitting ground balls to second base all day, but she really did a good job staying on that pitch.”

Freshman Amanda Lorenz

“I just told myself she’s going to pitch me the change-up, as I haven’t hit them well all year. I tried to stay back and put a good swing, a hard swing on it.”

Series History

* Florida now leads the all-time series with Mississippi State, 33-19; this including a 19-8 advantage at home.

* Since Tim Walton became Florida’s head coach before the 2006 season, the Gators are now 24-3 against the Bulldogs.

Series Stats

* The Gators batted .296 on the weekend with six home runs and 25 RBI, while its pitching staff compiled a 0.127 earned run average, with 21 strikeouts and 12 walks.

* Kayli Kvistad, Amanda Lorenz and Aubree Munro paced the Gators offense this weekend they hit a combined .370 (11 for 27) with three home runs, 13 RBI and seven runs scored.

* In the circle, Delanie Gourley had a perfect 0.00 ERA as she led Florida with a 2-0 record with one save in 12.0 innings pitched. In addition, Gourley had nine strikeouts and allowed just two hits.

Next Up

Florida hits the road next week for its final weekend road series of the season. The Gators travel to College Station, Texas to take on Texas A&M in another SEC battle of ranked teams.

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Andrew Spivey
Andrew always knew he wanted to be involved with sports in some capacity. He began by coaching high school football for six years before deciding to pursue a career in journalism. While coaching, he was a part of two state semifinal teams in the state of Alabama. Given his past coaching experience, he figured covering recruiting would be a perfect fit. He began his career as an intern for Rivals.com, covering University of Florida football recruiting. After interning with Rivals for six months, he joined the Gator Country family as a recruiting analyst. Andrew enjoys spending his free time on the golf course and watching his beloved Atlanta Braves. Follow him on Twitter at @AndrewSpiveyGC.