Special report on the Florida Gators softball team:
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The fifth-ranked Florida softball team downed No. 8 Florida State 5-1 at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium Wednesday night in the final game of the 2018 Fresh from Florida Sunshine Showdown.
Kelly Barnhill (22-1) led the Gators (42-7) from the circle as she struck out 10 Seminoles (39-9) in the complete-game effort.
Seniors Nicole DeWitt, Kayli Kvistad, Aleshia Ocasio and Janell Wheaton helped lead the charge at the plate as the group accounted for five of the eight hits on the night.
After posting a trio of hits through the first five innings, the Gators offense finally broke through in the sixth against the Seminoles and took a 5-0 lead. Amanda Lorenz started the rally with a leadoff single up the middle and moved into scoring position on a wild pitch from FSU starter Meghan King (14-6).
DeWitt broke the scoreless tie with her RBI double to center field that scored Lorenz from second. Kvistad followed up with a full-count walk and Ocasio loaded the bases with a bunt single down the first base line.
Wheaton put Florida ahead 2-0 with an RBI single through the left side to score DeWitt. Sophomore shortstop Sophia Reynoso extended the Gators lead out 5-0 with a bases-clearing double off the outstretched glove of third baseman Jessie Warren – Ocasio, Wheaton and Matthews all scored on the play.
Florida State scored in the final frame of the game on Warren’s leadoff home run to center field. Barnhill bounced back to strikeout the final three batters of the game and seal the victory.
Next up for the Gators is a three-game series against No. 13 LSU. The first game of the series is slated to start at 5:30 p.m. on the SEC Network.
On the tight game and the sixth inning…
“It was just as you would imagine it would be – one mistake, one bad pitch, one good swing. It was a really, really good game. Both teams were really good tonight – the rivalry has grown because the level of competition has grown and there is a lot at stake with wins like these. We found a way to get it done.”
On Amanda’s approach at the plate…
“Her approach at the plate has always been the same, it just comes down to her work ethic. Her work ethic has always been strong, but she is maximizing her performance more. She is outperforming her expectation now, before she was only working to the level of expectation. She is putting the work in. I have challenged hitters before, but she has risen to the challenge.”
On Barnhill’s performance through adversity…
“This is a signature win for Kelly, not only did she make one mistake in the game, she made two and was still able to bounce back. She was who she is and I am proud of her for performing at a high level and not trying to do too much.”
From the Players
On her first at bat…
Credit to their pitcher, she threw well when she needed to and she got the best of me in that first at-bat. Playing the competition that we do, you have to have a short-term memory when you’re up to bat. That’s what I’ve gotten better doing over the last three years. After that first strikeout, I knew I needed to clear my mind and the hits came.”
On the double…
“I was hoping it was going to stay fair and it hit her glove and it got us big runs across the board. It was nice to have my team’s back and Kelly’s back, so she could go into that last half inning with the confidence to shut them down.”
“Our fans did a great job getting rowdy today.”
On the second inning…
“You just have to move on to the next pitch. You take it pitch-by-pitch and you have to have a short-term memory about those things. I really focused on coming back and trying to strikeout the next batter.”
· Florida extended its all-time series lead over Florida State to 25-16 and 13-7 at home.
o The Gators now hold a 20-5 record versus Top 25 competition and 19
· UF scored five runs in the sixth inning to take lead over the Seminoles
o Florida is now 38-2 when scoring first.
o The five runs scored in the sixth is now the 28th time that the team has scored four or more runs in an inning.
· Kelly Barnhill struck 10 batters in the contest and struck out the side twice.
o It’s Barnhill’s 13th game of the season with 10 or more strikeouts and has now struck out the side 25 times.
· Amanda Lorenz posted her 15th multi-hit game of the season after going 2-for-3 at the plate.
· Head Coach Tim Walton was recognized pregame for achieving his 800th career win and 700th as the head coach of Florida Gators.
o Walton holds the highest winning percentage among active NCAA Division I softball coaches.
§ His career record stands at 831-209 for a .799 win percentage.
§ He also has a record of 708-145 (.830) in his 13 seasons as the head coach of the Gators.