Florida Gators softball sweeps Sunday doubleheader

Special report on the Florida Gators softball team:

TAMPA, Fla. – No. 5 Florida closed out the USF Opening Weekend Invitational Sunday with victories against N.C. State, 2-1, and USF, 7-1, at the USF Softball Stadium.

Barnhill (4-0) picked up both decisions from the circle as she entered in relief in the first game against the Wolfpack (3-2) and tossed five quality innings in her start versus the Bulls (1-4). The Marietta, Ga. native notched 14 strikeouts through 8.0 innings pitched in the two games.

Against N.C. State, Natalie Lugo received the start and held the Wolfpack, who beat No. 7 Arizona the previous game, to just two hits and struck out six without allowing a walk. Freshman Elizabeth Hightower also saw her first collegiate action in relief against the Bulls. Hightower pitched the final two innings of the game and struck out four of the six batters she faced.

Timely hitting also played a factor in the pair of wins for the Gators today. Jordan Matthews provided more walk-off heroics with her SAC fly in the bottom of the seventh against N.C. State, while Hannah Adamsbroke open the game against the Bulls with her two-out grand slam in the fourth.

Not to be overlooked, freshman Hannah Sipos had one of the most key at-bats against USF. Sipos loaded the bases for the Gators with her 13-pitch at-bat that resulted in a walk and gave Adams the opportunity to break the game open with her big hit.

How It Happened – N.C. State – W, 2-1

Inning Score Play
B-1st 1-0 Danielle Romanello drove home Adams from second base with a single up the middle of the Wolfpack infield for the game’s first run.
T-5th 1-1 After a pitching change for the Gators, N.C. State finally broke onto the scoreboard with a solo home run to right center field.
B-7th 2-1 The Gators won the game via a SAC fly to deep right field by Matthews that scored pinch-runner Haven Sampson.

How It Happened – USF – W, 7-1

Inning Score Play
B-1st 0-1 Back-to-back extra base hits to left and right field by the Bulls leadoff batters resulted in the first run of the game being scored.
T-2nd 1-1 Jaimie Hoover battled through a 3-2 count and evened the score on the seventh pitch of the at-bat with a solo home run over the left field wall.
T-4th 5-1 With two outs, Adams blasted a grand slam over the right field wall that scored Hoover, Sophia Reynoso and Sipos. Sipos passed the bat to Adams after she worked a 13-pitch walk to loaded the bases.
T-7th 7-1 Romanello extended UF’s lead with a two-run home run over the wall in left center. Amanda Lorenz scored on the play after she reached via a single through the left side.

Standout Statistic
Senior pitcher Kelly Barnhill surpassed Lauren Haeger (73-12) and is now tied for fourth all-time with Stacey Stevens (74-42) in career victories at UF. Barnhill ended the week with four wins and save through five appearances.

UF All-Time Wins Leaders

1 Stacey Nelson (136-36) – 2006-’09
2 Hannah Rogers (127-31) – 2011-’14
3 Stephanie Brombacher (97-11) – 2008-’11
4 Stacey Stevens (74-42) – 2004-’07
Kelly Barnhill (74-8) – 2016-’19

Next Up
Florida returns home to Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium Tuesday, Feb. 12, for its first game inside the newly renovated stadium. The Gators will take on Japan in an exhibition at 6 p.m. and will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony outside the main gates at 4 p.m.

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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 Rivals.com, 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.