Special report on the Florida Gators softball team:
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The University of Florida softball team advanced to the NCAA Super Regional round for the 10th time in program history after the team downed Oklahoma State 5-0 in game seven of the NCAA Gainesville Regional.
The Gators (53-7) were upended 1-0 in the first game of the day by the Cowgirls (38-25) but rebounded with resounding force in a winner take all contest.
Senior Delanie Gourley (20-4) received the nod to start in the circle for the final game and set the tone as she struck out the side on just 12 pitches.
The offense followed her lead. Amanda Lorenz ripped a leadoff double down the right field line and junior Nicole DeWitt cranked a 2-1 pitch over the temporary seating beyond the right field wall.
With a 2-0 lead in hand, Gourley had what she needed to shut the door on Oklahoma State. The Cowgirls only reached base three times entire game.
Meanwhile, the Gators went on to score a run each in the second, third and fifth innings to pull away.
In the second inning, the Cowgirls brought in Logan Simunek to pitch and she lasted all of two batters. Sophia Reynoso promptly singled to center field and then Simunek struck Jaimie Hoover on the foot to put runners on base with no outs.
Oklahoma State wasted no time and brought in Brandi Needham, the winning pitcher that put the Cowgirls in position to advance regional finale.
However, it didn’t deter the Florida offense, Justine McLean put down a SAC bunt to advance the runners and Amanda Lorenz extended the lead out to 3-0 with a SAC fly to center field that scored Reynoso.
A pair of lead off singles by Kayli Kvistad and two SAC bunts Wheaton set up the last two runs of the game for the Gators.
Jordan Roberts drove home Lily Mann, who pinch ran for Kvistad, in the third for the fourth run of the game on single up the middle.
In the fifth, Reynoso drove home Kvistad from second base for the final run of the game on a line drive to left field.
Next up for the Gators is the NCAA Super Regionals. The team will face the winner of the Tuscaloosa Regional, which pits Minnesota against host Alabama, at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium. Minnesota has to defeat the Crimson Tide twice to advance.
“Thanks to our fans for really staying through today. (They had) good energy and good vibes and really got excited. I think when Delanie (Gourley) came out and set the tone in the first inning with the strikeouts, the fans, you could really tell, got going and got excited. I’m really proud of the way this left-hander came out and got us ready to go and gave us a chance to win that ballgame. I’m thankful for our fans and for the people that stuck around with us. Congratulations to Oklahoma State. Obviously what they’ve done, not only this season but last season, being in the regional finals two seasons in a row against two decent teams. On the road is not a tough place to be, but I’m giving them a lot of credit. I thought their kids fought hard. (Brandi) Needham pitched really good all weekend with a nice mix of pitches and speeds. I’m happy we’re moving on and thankful we have a really good pitching staff and good pitching coach. I thought our team responded really well to the adversity today.” – Tim Walton