Florida Gators softball cruises to win Gainesville regional

Report on the Florida Gators softball team:

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The No. 1-seeded University of Florida softball team advanced to NCAA Super Regionals with an 8-0 run-rule victory over UCF in the Gainesville Regional Final Sunday at KSP Stadium. With the win, UF earned a Super Regional berth for ninth time in 10 seasons.
The Gators (56-5) blanked UCF (38-22) for a second time this weekend behindAleshia Ocasio‘s (22-1) three-hit shutout. Ocasio fanned seven and gave up just one walk in Sunday’s showdown. After tossing 17 scoreless innings and outscoring three foes 24-0 this weekend, the Gators racked up three consecutive shutouts in regional play for the fourth time in school history (also: 2007, 2014, 2015), and for the 10th consecutive regional game since 2013.
Once again, seniors Taylor Fuller and Aubree Munro provided a spark for the Gators at the bottom of the batting order to turn over the lineup and generate run production in Sunday’s Regional Final.
Fuller drove in the first two Florida runs, working a little two-out magic in the second. With bases loaded and two down, the third-baseman roped a two-run single through the left side to score a pair of seniors in Kirsti Merritt, who led off with a double, and Munro, who worked one of two base-on-balls for the Gators in the frame.
The Gators got back to work in the fourth and put together a six-run stanza for the eight-run rule win. Florida took advantage of two hit-by-pitches and a Knights error when freshman Amanda Lorenz dropped a blooper in shallow center for UF’s third run. A Merritt bases-loaded walk plated the fourth score and a sneaky Kelsey Stewart stole home on the same play to give the Gators a 5-0 advantage to set up aNicole DeWitt three-run jack for the eight-run lead and final against UCF.
Florida has won 12 straight NCAA Regional contests dating back to the 2013 season and will host the winner of the Athens Regional — Georgia or Oklahoma State — next weekend in Super Regional action.
Team Notes

  • The Gators are now 72-33 all-time in the NCAA Tournament, including a 35-18 record in Regionals. During Tim Walton‘s tenure as head coach, UF is 67-21 in NCAA play and 30-6 in Regionals.
    • UF has now won 12 straight Regional contests.
  • Florida advanced to a Super Regional for ninth time in 10 seasons.
  • The Gators have thrown 10 consecutive shutouts in NCAA Regionals dating back to May 19, 2013.
  • Florida has now gone 79 and one-third innings of regional play without allowing an earned run.
    • This streak began on May 20, 2012 against USF.
  • Florida has now gone 68 and one-third innings in NCAA Regionals play without surrounding a run
    • This streak began on May 18, 2013 against USF.
  • This is the fourth time the Gators have thrown three straight shutouts in a Regional (also: 2007, 2014, 2015).
  • Since 2014, the Gators have recorded 17 postseason shutouts (2014 Regional – 3, 2014 Super Regional – 2, 2014 WCWS – 3, 2015 Regional – 3, 2015 Super Regional – 2, 2015 WCWS – 1, 2016 Regional – 3).
  • Florida now owns 31 shutouts and 21 mercy-rule victories in 2016.
  • The Orange and Blue are now 33-1 against in-state opponents since the start of 2014.
  • Sunday’s game was broadcast on SEC Network. Florida is now 13-2 in contests that broadcast on national television.
  • Florida is now 36-0 this season against unranked opponents this season.
  • The Gators improved to 22-5 in games against ranked opponents this season.
  • UF improved to 21-1 in neutral site games this season.
  • Following Sunday’s shutout victory over the Knights, Florida has not allowed a run in 23-straight innings. In addition, the Gators are now error-free in 50-consecutive innings.

Stat Watch

  • UF has now outscored its opponents this season, 376-62.
    • In 2015, UF had a plus-304 run differential (418-114) through 61 games.
    • In 2014, UF had a plus-294 run differential (423-129) through 61 games.
  • Florida’s 62 runs allowed through 61 games is the second fewest in school history through this point in any season.
    • UF’s 2009 squad allowed 50 tallies through 61 contests and Florida’s last two NCAA Championship teams had allowed more than 110 runs each, respectively.
  • The Gators have made just 25 errors this season and currently sport one of the best fielding percentages (.984) and earned run averages in the nation (0.86). For comparison, Florida set school records last season with a .981 fielding percentage and just 33 errors committed.
  • Florida’s astounding 0.86 team ERA (391.2 IP) would go down as the second-best ERA for a single season in program history if the season ended today.
  • Top ERA Season’s in UF History:
    • 2008 – 0.92 ERA (512.0 IP)
    • 2009 – 0.69 ERA (444.0 IP)
  • Florida’s miniscule .153 batting average against (391.2 IP) would go down as the best b/avg. for a single season in program history if the season ended today.
  • Top B/Avg. Season’s in UF History:
    • 2008 – 0.176 b/avg. (512.0 IP)
    • 2009 – 0.161 b/avg. (444.0 IP)
  • UF did not allow a stolen base on Sunday, remaining the only team in the SEC who has yet to allow more than five stolen bases in 2016.
    • Florida’s opponents have only attempted to steal 11 bases against Aubree Munro and Florida’s catchers this season. That mark would shatter Florida’s school record of 25 attempts that was set in 2015.
      • In addition, UF’s stolen-base-against percentage of 45% (5-11) this season would be the lowest in school history if the season ended today. Florida’s 2003 team currently holds that mark as they allowed just 51.7% (31-60) of runners to steal a base safely.

Pitching Notes

  • Florida’s pitching trio has combined to allow just 62 runs, while they have totaled 517 strikeouts. Both of those numbers lead the SEC.
    • Only two teams in Florida history have ever allowed less than 100 runs in a single season. UF’s 2009 squad allowed just 67 runs and its 2008 team allowed 94 tallies.
    • Florida’s 517 strikeouts currently ranks second all-time in program history for strikeouts in a single season.

Hitting Notes

  • Hitting Streaks:
  • Kirsti Merritt got the Gators started in the second with a leadoff double, her fifth of the season and 32nd of her career
  • Sophomore Nicole DeWitt lifted her seventh bomb of the season over the right-field fence to cap Florida’s scoring in the fourth with her ninth career homer

Postgame Quotes
Head Coach Tim Walton:
On Florida’s Super Regional berth: 
“Wow, it’s really special. Very happy for our players, not only the present players, but for the former players and the legacy they built and the tradition that Florida Softball is. Florida Softball is a household name now and that wouldn’t be possible without all those players that have sacrificed a ton and have found a way to get W’s in Regionals.”
On Florida’s pitching and defense with three shutouts this weekend:
“You can tell they have embraced the postseason. I’m really happy with the way the lineup is stretching out and becoming a lot deeper. We have unselfish people,Justine McLean and Aleshia Ocasio are swinging the bat very well and they are just waiting for their turn. When their names are called, they get out and they contribute. Really happy with the way our team plays softball.”
Series History

  • Florida now holds a 20-4 all-time record against UCF as these two schools have played at least once every season since 2008. In addition, UF now has an 12-2 mark against UCF in Gainesville.
  • UF is now 8-2 against UCF in postseason 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 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.