Special report on the Florida Gators softball team:
COLLEGE STATION, Texas – No. 9 Florida was crowned back-to-back Southeastern Conference Tournament Champions after a 2-1 victory over No. 4 Alabama Saturday night at Davis Diamond.
The Gators (44-15) picked up another superb outing in the circle from senior right-handed pitcher Kelly Barnhill (30-11). Barnhill limited the Crimson Tide (52-7) to just a pair of hits and a run in what was the 72nd complete-game of her career.
The road to UF’s fifth overall SEC Tournament title wasn’t easy, as the Orange & Blue fell behind 1-0 in the bottom of the fourth inning. However, Alabama’s lead didn’t last long as the team rallied for its sixth come-from-behind victory of the season with a pair of runs in the top of the sixth inning.
With two outs and no one on base, the Gators opted to bring in freshman pinch-hitter Cheyenne Lindsey. Lindsey, a left-handed batter, offered at the first pitch from Alabama reliever Montana Fouts (15-4) and sent a high chopper over the head of third baseman Maddie Morgan and down the line for a double.
Sophomore Jordan Matthews drew a pinch-hit walk that put another runner on and turned the lineup over for senior Amanda Lorenz’s heroic at-bat. With a full-count at the plate, Lorenz reached out for the seventh pitch hurled from Fouts and drove it down the left field line to score the two deciding runs.
All that mattered from that point forward was for Barnhill and the Gators to find six outs. Alabama managed to put a pair of runners on in the bottom of the sixth, but Barnhill denied the rally and capped the inning with her fifth strikeout of the game.
In the seventh, the Crimson Tide threatened once more with another runner, but yet again Florida and Barnhill worked out of the jam and concluded the championship run with a strikeout.
The Gators will now wait for the 2019 NCAA Division I softball selection show to find out their postseason draw. This year’s selection show is set to air Sunday, May 12, at 9 p.m. (ET) on ESPN2.
How It Happened – W, 2-1
|B-4th||0-1||With runners on first and third and one out, Alabama scored the first run of the game on a fielder’s choice out to shortstop.|
|T-6th||2-1||With two out and two runners on first and second, Amanda Lorenzgave the Gators the lead with a double down the left field line that scored pinch-hitter Cheyenne Lindsey and Alex Voss. Jordan Matthews pinch-hit for Voss and drew a walk prior to Lorenz’s at-bat.|
- Barnhill wrapped up her 2019 SEC Tournament Campaign with a 3-0 record, a 0.33 ERA, .075 opponent batting average, 21 innings pitched, five hits, one run and 24 strikeouts. The Marietta, Ga. native earned SEC Tournament Most Valuable Player for her performances.
- This is the fifth overall SEC Tournament title for the Florida program (2008, 2009, 2013, 2018 & 2019), which puts the program in a tie for the most titles held by a program.
- Alabama and LSU have also won the SEC Tournament five times.
- It’s only the second time in program history that the team has won the title in back-to-back years and only the third time in SEC history that has occurred.
- Auburn won the tournament title in back-to-back season in 2015 and 2016.
- All five of Florida’s SEC Tournament Titles have come under the guidance of head coach Tim Walton, which is more than any other coach in conference history.
- The Gators now hold a 32-27 record in SEC Tournament play.
- Tonight was Florida’s eighth overall SEC Tournament Championship appearance.
- It’s the first time a No. 6-seed has won the SEC Tournament Championship
- Tonight’s championship matchup was the fourth time in SEC Tournament history that the Gators and the Crimson Tide have met.
- W, 4-1 – May 10, 2008 – Baton Rouge, La.
- W, 8-5 – May 9, 2009 – Knoxville, Tenn.
- L, 10-1 (5) – May 12, 2012 – Tuscaloosa, Ala.
- W, 2-1 – May 11, 2019 – College Station, Texas
- Head Coach Tim Walton holds a career 23-9 record at the SEC Tournament.
- Today’s win over No. 4 Alabama was the team’s 19th victory over a top-25 opponent this season.
- It’s also the 10th shutout of against a top-25 opponent.
- Barnhill picked up her 100th career victory and is now only one of three pitchers in Florida history to have achieved the benchmark.
- Stacey Nelson (2006-’09) – 136
- Hannah Rogers (2011-’14) – 127
- Kelly Barnhill (2016-’19) – 100
- Four of the five Florida hits went for doubles, which ties the SEC Tournament single-game record for doubles. It’s only the fourth time in tournament history this has occurred in a single game and the first since Georgia vs. Ole Miss May 6, 2015.
2019 SEC All-Tournament Team
|Kelly Barnhill||Florida – MVP|