Special report on the Florida Gators softball team:
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The University of Florida softball team defeated Illinois State, 11-1 (six innings), and Florida A&M, 4-1, on the final day of the 2016 Aquafina Invitational. Florida captured the Invitational title after posting a 5-0 record this weekend while outscoring its opponents, 44-5.
The pitching tandem of Delanie Gourley and Kelly Barnhill combined for Florida single-game record 18 strikeouts against the Rattlers in the second game of Florida’s doubleheader on Sunday afternoon.
Gourley recorded a career-high 13 strikeouts in 5.1 innings pitched, and Barnhill dealt five strikeouts to the only five Rattlers she faced.
Florida eclipsed its previous record of 17 strikeouts, which it has achieved twice in school history. Last season, now-sophomore Aleshia Ocasio had 17 strikeouts against Florida A&M on May 16 in the NCAA Regional. Her mark tied Renise Landry’s from Feb. 20, 2000 against Samford (eight innings).
For the week, including Thursday’s night’s contest against Illinois State, Florida was led by sophomore Kayli Kvistad who hit .583 (7 for 12) with two home runs, one double, seven RBI and five runs scored. Her classmate, Janell Wheaton, hit .500 (6 for 12) with one homer, one triple, seven RBI and two runs scored.
In the circle, each of Florida’s three pitchers earned a pair of wins but Gourley recorded the most strikeouts (26) and allowed the least amount of walks (0). Barnhill recorded Florida’s third save of the season and first of her career on Sunday afternoon against the Rattlers.
Florida is now 22-0 this season, which is tied for the third-best start to a season in school history. UF began the 2011 season 24-0 and the 2015 season 28-0.
After Florida left the bases loaded in the first inning, Illinois State’s offense wasted no time in the bottom of the frame as Annie Heineman led off with a single up the middle. Riley Hale followed with a bunt and Heineman beat the throw to second, giving ISU two runners with no outs in the inning. Two batters later after a Regan Romshek sacrifice bunt moved the runners into scoring position, Riley Strandgard singled up the middle to drive in Heineman and give ISU a 1-0 lead.
This marked just the third time UF has trailed in a game this season.
Undaunted, Florida tied the game in the top of the second with a solo home run from Kayli Kvistad, her second of the season and this week.
UF added a pair of runs in the third inning when Kayli Kvistad and Aubree Munrorecorded RBI singles to score Taylore Fuller and Kirsti Merritt, who reach base earlier in the inning by way of a single and walk
In the fifth, Chelsea Herndon recorded an RBI on an ISU miscue and Kelsey Stewartnotched a sacrifice fly later in the inning.
Florida tacked on two runs in the sixth due to Redbird errors and captured its four runs on RBI singles by Kvistad, Aubree Munro and Nicole DeWitt
For the game, Kayli Kvistad and Aubree Munro combined to go 6 for 6 with one home run, five RBI and two runs scored.
In the circle, sophomore Aleshia Ocasio (7-0) tossed a complete and allowed just one run on four hits while striking out six and not walking a batter.
Delanie Gourley got Florida off to a good start by striking out five of the first six batters she faced.
However, Florida fell behind for just the fourth time all season and for the second-straight game when FAMU scored one run in the top of the third inning on three infield hits and a passed ball.
Tashayla Irvis scored the Rattler’s run, while Nachelle Watson drove her in.
Florida responded quickly in the bottom of the third inning when Kelsey Stewart led off the inning with a double and later scored on a Janell Wheaton sac fly.
Later in the inning, Kirsti Merritt recorded an RBI single with runners on first and second. Taylor Schwarz then earned an RBI walk after Taylore Fuller drew a base on balls to load the bases before her.
UF scored its final run in the sixth when Kayli Kvistad recorded her fourth and final RBI of the day on a sacrifice fly.
Delanie Gourley (8-0) started and threw the first 5.1 innings and recorded a career high 13 strikeouts while giving up one run and not walking a batter. Freshman Kelly Barnhill relieved the junior and earned the first save of her career when she struck out all five Rattlers she face.
News & Notes
- Florida’s 22-0 record ties for the third-best start to a season in school history. UF began the 2011 season 24-0 and the 2015 season 28-0.
- UF has now outscored its opponents this season, 153-13.
- A season ago, UF had a plus-124 run differential (177-21) through 22 games.
- The Gators have made just nine errors this season and currently sport one of the best fielding percentages (.983) and earned run averages in the nation (0.63). For comparison, Florida had committed 17 errors in its first 22 contests and had a fielding percentage of .969. 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 195-28 and 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 700th win.
- Florida improved to 27-1 against in-state opponents since the start of the 2014 season after this weekend’s action.
- The Gators batted .377 this week and its pitching staff compiled a 0.90 earned run average, with 63 strikeouts and nine walks.
- Sophomore Kayli Kvistad paced the Gators offense this week as she hit .583 (7 for 12) with two home runs, seven RBI and five runs scored.
- Janell Wheaton was the only other Gator to hit at least .500 and start every game this week, as the sophomore was 6 for 12 with one home run, one triple, seven RBI and two runs scored.
- In the circle, Delanie Gourley went a 2-0 in 13.1 innings pitched with 26 strikeouts.
- Delanie Gourley and Kelly Barnhill combined for a Florida single-game record 18 strikeouts against the Rattlers in the second game of Florida’s doubleheader on Sunday afternoon.
- Gourley recorded a career-high 13 strikeouts in 5.1 innings pitched, and Barnhill dealt five strikeouts to the only five Rattlers she faced.
- Florida eclipsed its previous record of 17 strikeouts, for which it achieved, once against the Rattlers. Last season, now-sophomore Aleshia Ocasio had 17 strikeouts against Rattlers on May 16, 2015 in the NCAA regional. Her mark tied Renise Landry from Feb. 20, 2000, vs. Samford (eight innings). Those marks are still the most by an individual in a single game, but now ranks second by team standards.
- Janell Wheaton has a team-leading 26th RBI after she recorded one against Florida A&M.
- With Kvistad’s second home run of the season today, she joined Janell Wheaton, Taylor Fuller and Nicole DeWitt as the only Gators with multiple long balls this season
- Florida recorded its 12th double play of the season against Illinois State.
- Florida A&M recorded the first stolen base against the Gators this season.
- UF entered this weekend as the only team in the SEC who has yet to allow a stolen base in 2016.
- Kelly Barnhill has now allowed just one extra base hit in 40.0 innings pitched this season.
- Florida has allowed just one home run in 2016, while the UF pitching staff had allowed five at this point last season.
Head Coach Tim Walton:
On this weekend overall…
“This weekend was a good opportunity to play at home, in truly our first real homestand of the season. It was a chance to get a lot of players some action and good looks in different situations. We really had some nice crowds this weekend. Every night was great and this weekend was awesome too. I was happy that we were able to get out there and try to be as fun to watch as possible for our fans. Overall, we had a good week.”
- Florida is now 7-2 all-time against Illinois State and winners of seven straight. These two squads have played six times in the last three seasons, and Florida has won those contests by a combined score of 33-5. Prior to 2012, the Gators only saw ISU twice in 2007, falling 1-0 both times.
- Florida is now 13-0 all-time against Florida A&M, which includes four wins over the Rattlers in the last three seasons.
Florida finishes its eight-game homestand on Wednesday with a doubleheader against South Dakota beginning at 4 p.m. Both games can be heard on Florida Sports Talk (WGGG-AM & WMOP-AM/FM) as Joel Sebastianelli will have the call, with former Gator All-American Megan Bush providing analysis. In addition, Wednesday’s contests will be broadcast on SEC Network+.