Special report on the Florida Gators softball team:
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Fresh from Florida Sunshine Showdown was truly a showdown as No. 3 Florida walked-off to defeat No. 1 Florida State. Kayli Kvistad drove home Justine McLean for the most important and only run of the contest. The top of the seventh started with McLean as she reached with a one-handed bunt single, her first of the year, to start the inning and two batters later was plated via Kvistad’s RBI single to right field.
The Gators (38-2) answered the bell against another Top 25 opponent, the 16th to be exact. Florida State (38-2-1) entered the contest as the top-ranked team in the country and with NCAA leading marks in both batting average and on base percentage.
Not to mention the third best scoring offense in the country as the Seminoles average 7.88 runs per game.
What Florida has brought to the table all season long showed up again tonight in front of a Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium record crowd of 2,547 – great pitching, solid defense and timely hitting. The Gators used all three facets to shut out Florida State for the first time in 29 games and record the Gators ninth shut out over a Top 25 opponent.
In the first inning, Florida State looked poised to burst onto the scoreboard first as the Seminoles posted three of their four hits in the frame. Morgan Klaevemann singled to start the contest but was charged with leaving the base early after trying to steal second when Alex Powers struck out.
Jessica Warren continued the threat and put Florida State into scoring position on a double to left center but that is where Florida put its foot down.
The Gators recorded their second outfield assists of the season and in as many games when sophomore Amanda Lorenz fielded an Ellie Cooper single to left field and burned a greedy Warren at home plate for the final out of the inning.
From there starter Delanie Gourley settled into a groove in the circle. Gourley, a 2017 USA Softball Player of the Year finalist, settled down to retire 13 of the next 14 Seminole batters she faced. Klaevemann reached via a shallow single to left field in the third for the final Florida State hit of the game.
While the nation’s best pitching staff was doing work in the circle the nation’s best fielding defense provided stout backup in the field as the Gators produced eight assists on the night. Gourley’s night ended at the end of the fifth inning on 72 pitches and seven strikeouts with no walks.
Sophomore Kelly Barnhill (16-0), another 2017 USA Softball Player of the Year finalist and the nation’s leading pitcher in ERA, relieved Gourley in the sixth inning of play and shut the door on the Seminoles. Barnhill struck out three and issued only one walk without giving up a hit through two innings of work.
Jessica Burroughs gave up two hits to Wheaton the first six innings of play before Megan King (17-1) relieved her in the final frame. As it turns out the two most important hits of the contest came in the seventh inning from the Gators and not the first from the Seminoles.
Florida returns to SEC action this weekend with a three-game series at Kentucky this Saturday at 6 p.m.
On the environment…
“I just want to thank everybody for coming out, it was a great crowd with great energy tonight. You couldn’t even hear yourself think a lot of times so I’m just proud of this environment tonight. Two of the best programs in the country, in the same state – it brings out the best in everybody. I thought the fans were awesome, their fans were cheering for their team and our fans were cheering for us. And both starting pitchers did a phenomenal job tonight.” – Tim Walton
From the Players
On what did it feel like coming around third base..
“So good! Kayli had a shot her last step out. So we were just telling her ‘get a little flair’ and sure enough Kayli saved the game once again, and when I was rounding third I just knew. They were just like ‘up, up, up and I knew, ok we won.’ It was just really fun.”
On another big save (Amanda) at the plate again
“We really don’t get a lot of opportunities because our pitchers are so dominate, but now they know if there’s a big situation and the ball is hit to us we have their back.”
On how the last hit felt…
“It felt great. It was a great team win overall. Delaney started off the game great in the circle then Kelly just shut them out at the end. So just a great team win overall. We had a couple chances earlier in the game but just one hit away. It felt great.”
On the weight of the game and how it felt…
“Gator Nation was great today, our fans were great. First pitch to the last pitch they were always on their feet and willing to cheer us on. So kudos to the fans, and then just the atmosphere here tonight with FSU of course. Their pitchers came out and Burroughs really pitched well, hitting her spots earlier in the game. Then King finishing. Kudos to them they did a great job too, it was just a great win.”
- The Gators produced their 15th win of the season over a Top 25 opponent and now hold a 15-1 record over Top 25 competition.
o It was the ninth time Florida shut out a Top 25 opponent and have held 14 of those opponents to one run or less.
- Amanda Lorenz extended her reached base safely streak to 40 games with her two out full-count walk in the fifth inning.
o Lorenz also ended the 2016 season on an 18-game reached base safely streak.
- Janell Wheaton recorded her fifth multi-hit game of the season.
- Justine McLean’s bunt single in the seventh was her first of the year.
o It was also only the fifth bunt single of her career.
- For the second time in four games, a Katie Seashole Stadium record crowd was recorded for tonight’s contest. KSP Stadium Record*
o 2017 Top 3 Attendances
- 4/12 – Florida State – 2,547*
- 4/8 – Georgia – 2,497*
- 3/25 – Auburn – 2,338