Special report on the Florida Gators softball team:
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Florida softball team blazed its way to a pair of victories over Maryland, 7-2, and Illinois State, 10-1, on the first day of the Aquafina Invitational at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.
Jordan Roberts and Kayli Kvistad tallied the first two home runs at KSP Stadium this season in the victory over the Redbirds in the final game of the day.
The Gators (12-1) wasted no time to plate their first runs of the game against Maryland (3-8). After a leadoff walk by Hannah Adams and a fielding error allowed Nicole DeWitt to reach on a bunt attempt, Amanda Lorenz belted a double off the left field wall to score the duo for the first runs.
Kvistad plated Lorenz via her second SAC fly of the season to give Florida a 3-0 lead.
After the Terrapins struck for a run in the top of the third, the Gators responded in the bottom of the frame. Back-to-back single from Kvistad and Janell Wheaton followed up by a walk from Roberts loaded the bases with one out.
Sophia Reynoso sent a tapper back to Ryan Denhart in the circle, which she then flipped back to home for the second out. Senior Aleshia Ocasio provided pinch-hit SAC fly to left to score Wheaton from third and extend the Florida lead to 4-1.
Florida tacked on three more in the fourth to take a 7-1 lead over Maryland. A pair bases loaded RBI walks from Wheaton and Roberts followed by an RBI groundout from Sophia Reynoso accounted for the damage in the inning.
Maryland picked up its second run of the game in the top of the fifth. Hannah Eslick hit a solo home run down the left field line for the lone run of the inning.
Kelly Barnhill (5-0) threw her third complete-game of the season and struck out nine en route to the victory.
The Gators served as the visiting team in the Aquafina Invitational’s nightcap against Illinois State (4-8).
Jordan Matthews put Florida ahead 1-0 in the top of the first inning with her RBI single that scored DeWitt.
Illinois State bounced back to tie the game 1-1 in the bottom of the second via a bases loaded walk issued by starter Katie Chronister.
Ocasio relieved Chronister with one out in the bottom of the third after 2.1 innings pitched. The Gainesville, Fla. native faced 12 batters on 47 pitches in the contest.
The long ball came into play in the fourth and fifth innings for the Gators. Roberts belted a two-run home run in the fourth to extend the lead out to 3-1 and Kvistad broke the game wide open in the fifth with her grand slam that pushed the lead out 8-1.
Prior to the grand slam, Matthews notched a bases loaded RBI single that scored Adams. The scoring in the fifth ended with the combination of a failed pickoff and a wild pitch gave Florida an eventual 10-1 lead.
Ocasio picked up the victory in the circle with 1.2 quality innings pitched and improved to 5-1 on the season.
The Gators return to action tomorrow with games against Maryland at 2 p.m. and Iowa State at 4:30 p.m.
“Good four games so far and good for us to get every pitcher some innings. Trying to start Kelly (Barnhill) as many times as we can just to see if we can hold her back and keep her innings down where we need them to be. Overall good day, some nice home runs in the second game and we hit the ball hard a couple times in the first game. A lot of walks, so give our team credit for the patience.”
On top of the lineup…
“Definitely thought the top of the lineup had a good day. Overall I thought the patience was good, the discipline was good and just the ability to get big hits was nice to see.”
On pitching performance…
“Not our best. We have to get better. Thought Natalie (Lugo) came in and threw some really nice pitches. Thought Katie (Chronister) had good stuff today, but you can’t walk in a run. That’s not our style and M.O. pitching wise. Overall, I thought we were okay. Have some improvements to make and we just have some things to get better at.”
From the Players
On complete game
“It was a really good team win and the hitters did a great job of getting the runs. I personally feel I didn’t pitch my best. It was a grind today, but it was enough to get the job done.”
On mindset after giving up the home run
“The best quality of a pitcher is a short memory. Just have to forget about it and move onto the next pitch.”
On her grand slam…
“It was awesome, getting to play in front of the home crowd since we have been on the road a lot this season. It was exciting to come out and play in front of Gator Nation and get two wins.”
On quick start in game one…
“I think it it’s important to jump on teams in the first inning and get the momentum going our way. Illinois State and Maryland are great teams and getting those first couple runs is important.”
· Ocasio struck out the side in the bottom of the fourth against Illinois State
o It’s the second time this season she has struck out the side.
· Jordan Roberts hit her first home run of the season in the fourth inning against the Redbirds
o It’s the first home run at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium in 2018.
· Kelly Barnhill threw her third complete-game of the year after going the distance against Maryland.
o She now has 27 complete games to her credit during her career.
· Florida improved to 2-1 all-time against Maryland with the 7-2 win and 10-2 against Illinois State after winning 10-1.
· Pepsi will plant trees for every Florida run scored during the Aquafina Invitational.
o So far the Gators have scored 17 runs during the tournament.
· Kayli Kvistad’s grand slam in the fifth against Illinois State was her first home run of the season.
o It’s also the first grand slam of the season for the Gators.
· The Gators scored seven runs in the fifth inning against the Redbirds.
o It’s the 11th time this season the Gators have scored four or more runs in an inning.