Special report on the Florida Gators softball team:
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Behind career-high afternoons from Janell Wheaton and Chelsea Herndon, the University of Florida softball team defeated North Dakota State University 13-0 in five innings Wednesday, March 15 at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.
Junior Aleshia Ocasio (4-0) picked up the start in the circle for the Gators and combined with freshman Katie Chronister (2) to record the third-straight shutout and the 16th of the season.
The Florida offense started blazing hot as the team found itself in scoring position in the first inning against 2016 Summit League Pitcher of the Year Jacquelyn Sertic but came up empty after Sertic sat down the next pair of UF batters.
Herndon broke open the scoring for the Gators in the bottom of the second. The Carrollton, Texas native ripped a one-out double down the left field line to score Nicole DeWitt and Justine McLean
DeWitt and McLean set the table for Herndon after both reached base being hit in back-to-back at bats by Bison hurler Sertic.
Sertic came into the game tied as the nation’s leader in least batters hit with only one over 119 innings pitched.
DeWitt stretched the Florida lead to 3-0 in the third with an RBI single that scored Chronister who entered to run for designated player Kayli Kvistad.
Chronister relieved Ocasio in the fourth inning of play with a 3-0 lead and received her second save of the season. The Bison managed to load the bases in the frame with two walks and a hit by pitch but Chronister and the Gators worked out of the jam to keep NDSU off the scoreboard.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Wheaton gave Florida separation and a 7-0 lead with her first grand slam of the season. The San Dimas, Calif. native followed up an intentional walk issued to Kvistad that loaded the bases for the Gators and sent a 2-0 pitch from Sertic over the left center field wall.
The Bison opted to replace Sertic in the circle with KK Leddy but the Gators offense continued to churn out runs with a walk from Jaimie Hoover, a base hit from DeWitt and a pinch hit single from freshman Jordan Roberts to reload the bases for Ocasio.
Ocasio singled up the middle for a pair of RBIs as Hoover and DeWitt crossed home plate. Then Herndon cleared the bases in the next at-bat to bring the score to 12-0.
Wheaton plated her fifth RBI in the frame with a hard hit ball to shortstop that scored Jacqui Switzer.
“You know we came back with the extra day off this week and I thought we came out ready to play. We faced a good pitcher who has tons of strikeouts so I thought that we were pretty disciplined at the plate. We didn’t chase a lot of pitches tonight but we got some nice key hits from Chelsea Herndon, Janell Wheaton and Nicole DeWitt tonight. I think they were all valuable big time hits today and we definitely needed that as we grind through this year.” – Tim Walton
From the Players
On gaining confidence heading into the series against South Carolina…
“This game will help us. I mean any game is going help us get ready for another, but I guess it’s almost some momentum going into South Carolina. Everyone had good at-bats so we will carry it into the next weekend feeling a little bit more confident. Our pitchers did a great job too and they can go into South Carolina a little more confident. So it just kind of gives you that confidence boost, I know it did a little bit myself.” – Chelsea Herndon
On the team’s performance…
“I think it was really good mid-week and a good confidence booster before an SEC weekend, especially our first away series. That was really good. The bats came alive for sure so I thought that was a positive note.” – Janell Wheaton