Special report on the Florida Gators softball team:
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – It came down to the final at-bat and aggressive base running as junior Nicole DeWitt provided a walk-off single to complete the comeback and give the No. 2-ranked University of Florida softball team a 4-3 win over No. 4 Auburn in the initial game of the series Saturday, March 25 at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.
Alex Voss scored the tying run from second base while redshirt-freshman Sophia Reynoso raced home from first base for the go-ahead run. DeWitt’s game-winning single hit off the outstretched glove of Auburn second baseman Casey McCrackin in shallow center field.
It is the third time this season that Gators have come from behind to win a game this season and the second versus a top-10 ranked opponent.
Florida (28-1, 6-0 SEC) opened the contest with an opportunity to score right away against Auburn (27-4, 2-2 SEC) in the bottom of the first as junior Nicole DeWitt ripped a one-out double passed center fielder Victoria Draper who was slightly shaded to shallow portion of the field.
An infield single by Lorenz put runners on the corners but Casey McCrackin corralled a sharply hit ball by Kayli Kvistad and turned the double play, which allowed the Tigers to escape the inning unscathed.
Auburn was poised to put the first run on the board in the top of the second but the nation’s top-ranked defense shown through brightly with two outs. Kvistad raced after a dribbling ground ball from Draper and dived on first base to end the bases loaded threat.
However, senior Justine McLean, the number nine batter in the lineup, pushed across the first two runs of the game. McLean hit a high chopper of the tip of the outstretched glove of pitcher Kaylee Carlson and beat the throw to the bag all the while Wheaton and a streaking Aleshia Ocasio raced home.
The Tigers picked up a run in the fourth on a RBI single by Draper. Draper slapped a high chopper to a waiting Sophia Reynoso at shortstop, Reynoso short on time with the speedy Draper racing down the line barehanded the ball out of midair and made a snap throw to first. The throw not in time and McCrakin scored from third to cut down the Florida lead to 2-1.
Auburn tied the game early in following frame with back-to-back hits from Haley Fagan and Courtney Shea. Fagan singled to start the top of the fifth with a grounder up the middle while Shea doubled down the left field line.
Pinch runner Bree Fornis scored the go-ahead run in the same inning on a SAC bunt to Ocasio in the circle from McCrackin.
On the play of Justine McLean at the plate in her spot of the lineup…
“Justine has had some good at-bats. I’m really proud of the way she’s played the game and you know kind of grown here in her senior year. Just really taking over that second leadoff spot in the bottom the lineup for us and hitting as hot as anybody we’ve had. I’m really proud of her and just her work ethic has been really solid too.” – Tim Walton
From the Players
On having the opportunity at the plate to win the game…
“You know you just go up there wanting to do whatever you can to win the game. I mean, I wasn’t really trying to win the game. I was just trying to get a hit, and at least score that run and get us back in the game. It just so happened to play in our favor, and we came out with the win. It was just great to turn around and just see your dugout just clear the dugout and come toward you. It’s just a great feeling.” – Nicole DeWitt
On responding with the team’s back against the wall…
“We talked about that. You know we’re not really down in a lot of games. So when that happens, I think our chemistry breaks us through, like we all trust each other so much and we’re all so close. So every person that goes in the box, there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind in the dugout that they are going get it done.” – Justine McLean