Barnhill’s no-hitter powers Florida Gators softball past UNF

Special report on the Florida Gators softball team:
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Junior Kelly Barnhill shined as the Florida softball team defeated North Florida, 9-0, in the first home game of the season at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium. Barnhill threw her first no-hitter of the season, third of her career, after striking out 12 on just 55 pitches.

It’s the Gators first no-hitter since Delanie Gourley achieved the feat against Florida A&M in last year’s NCAA Regional.

Florida took advantage of back-to-back two out walks drawn by Kayli Kvistad and freshman Jordan Matthews in the first inning to break onto the scoreboard. With a 1-1 count at the plate, Janell Wheaton registered an RBI single to center field that drove in Kvistad from second.

The Gators struck for another run in the third to extend the lead out to 2-0. Kayli Kvistad lined a single that deflected off UNF starting pitcher Morgan Blourne. A racing Amanda Lorenz glanced at first to notice that the throw was off target and took home for the second run of the game.

Freshman Hannah Adams’ two out walk to load the bases forced the Ospreys to call in Amanda Blanchard from the bullpen. Blanchard went on to end the inning and the Florida scoring threat with a strikeout from Aleshia Ocasio.

After scoring single runs in the first and the third inning, Florida turned up the heat and cranked out seven runs on seven hits. Lorenz sparked the string of hits with a double to left field that scored Jaimie Hoover.

However, the perfect summary for the way the inning went was when freshman Danielle Romanello stepped into the box for her first collegiate at-bat.

The St. Petersburg, Fla. native blistered a sky-high shot into the trees past right field wall. Unfortunately, it turned out to be foul but she bounced back and sent the next pitch opposite field for an RBI double that scored Ocasio.

The fourth ended with the Gators leading 9-0 and that’s all Barnhill needed to close the door and secure the no-hitter.

Walton’s Words
Opening Statement…
“I thought Kelly Barnhill had a really good home opener for us. Our lineup, even though we didn’t score too many runs in the first couple innings, had good at bats. We hit the ball. Sophia (Reynoso) had a nice line drive at the bottom of the fourth to lead the inning off. I think overall, the at-bats were good. I’m really pleased with the way we came out and played, and I’m thankful for the fans that came out to watch us on our home opener.”

On Kelly’s pitching performance tonight…
“Kelly obviously threw the ball well tonight. Other than the hit by pitch, she didn’t allow a base runner. She really threw well, but I still don’t think that that is Kelly’s best stuff yet – so that’s the good part. It’s February. It’s early, but I have seen an improvement from Friday, Saturday, Sunday and now to Wednesday. So whatever she and coach Rocha are doing in the bullpen, watching video, making her adjustments to get her pitches to break better and just doing the things that she needs to do. I know that they are definitely accomplishing good things.”

From the Players

Aleshia Ocasio
On getting back to KSP Stadium…
“Well you know we opened up really well at USF’s tournament, but it felt really good to get in front of our crowd and have Gator Nation behind us and supporting us at our home field.”

Kelly Barnhill
On being efficient tonight…
“I was just going out there and trying not to think. I was really in my head this past weekend with my pitching. I just went to bullpens and really focused on my rise ball. I think it showed today.”

On bouncing back…
“At USF I looked at some video, analyzed some video with Coach Rocha and I looked at past video to see what a good one looks like. So it was really just getting back into the bullpen to figure out what a good one feels like too. I was at the end of a bullpen yesterday, and I finally just got that feel back. I got the right arm slot going, and everything just felt better and felt easy.”

Notable Notes

* In the home opener for the 2018 season, Florida improved to 8-0 all-time over UNF after tonight’s 9-0 win.

o The Gators have outscored the Ospreys 51-2 over that span.

o The program has never lost the first game played at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium each season – the record currently stands at 23-0.

* Kelly Barnhill threw her third-career no-hitter tonight against UNF. The Osprey’s had one batter reach base via hit by pitch in the fifth inning.

o April 16, 2017 at Kentucky | W, 2-0

o May 8, 2016 vs. Arkansas | W, 8-0 (5 innings)

* Barnhill’s 12-strikeout performance against UNF is the first individual performance of 10+ strikeouts by a Florida pitcher this season.

o She struck out the side twice in tonight’s game.

* Tonight’s no-hitter was the first of the season and the first since Delanie Gourley hurled one against Florida A&M (5/19/16) in the first game of the NCAA Regional.

o The Gators have 27 total no-hitters in program history, 22 individual and five combined.

* Kayli Kvistad continues to make a run at the all-time walks record held by Lauren Haeger (2012-15). Kvistad currently sits with 132 career walks, which is just 43 behind Haeger’s 175 mark.

o The Late City, Fla. native set the single-season record just one season ago with 67.

* Freshman Danielle Romanello recorded her first career at-bat tonight.

o The result was an opposite field RBI double that gave Florida a 9-0 lead.

* Tonight’s shutout is the fifth of the season for Florida.

o Last season the Gators recorded a program record 40 shutouts.

* The seven run inning in the fourth was the sixth time this season that UF has scored more than four runs in a inning of play.

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Andrew Spivey
Andrew always knew he wanted to be involved with sports in some capacity. He began by coaching high school football for six years before deciding to pursue a career in journalism. While coaching, he was a part of two state semifinal teams in the state of Alabama. Given his past coaching experience, he figured covering recruiting would be a perfect fit. He began his career as an intern for, covering University of Florida football recruiting. After interning with Rivals for six months, he joined the Gator Country family as a recruiting analyst. Andrew enjoys spending his free time on the golf course and watching his beloved Atlanta Braves. Follow him on Twitter at @AndrewSpiveyGC.