Special report on the Florida Gators softball team:
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Quality pitching, explosive offense and solid defense paved the way to two victories for the Florida softball team over Maryland, 12-0, and Iowa State, 8-0, on the second day of the Aquafina Invitational at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.
Kelly Barnhill, Aleshia Ocasio and Natalie Lugo spearheaded Florida’s efforts in the circle. Barnhill threw her fourth career no-hitter, second of the season, against Iowa State while Aleshia Ocasio pitched three perfect innings against Maryland. Lugo allowed only one hit to the Terps through two innings of work.
The Gators opened the day with a resounding 12-0 victory over Maryland. A pair of four-run innings coupled with a pair of two-run innings in the closing frames powered the rout of the Terrapins.
Florida jumped out in front, 4-0, with a bases clearing double by Kayli Kvistad and eventually was brought home via a SAC fly by Aleshia Ocasio.
Ocasio, who received the start in the circle, once again found herself in the midst of a stellar start. The St. Cloud, Fla. native went three-complete innings with a pair of strikeouts and no-hits allowed.
The Gators struck again for four more in the third via a pair of doubles by Sophia Reynoso and Hannah Adams. Reynoso’s double to center field plated both Wheaton and Kvistad, while Adams’ brought home Reynoso in the next at-bat of the inning.
DeWitt plated Adams immediately with her RBI single to center field to extend the lead out to 8-0 over Maryland.
Reynoso tallied her second two-RBI double of the game to extend the Gators lead to 10-0 in the fourth and a Jaimie Hoover SAC fly along with a Kvistad RBI single up the middle in the fifth accounted for the final runs of the game.
Florida made a quick turnaround to play its second game of the day against Iowa State.
The Gators also scored quickly as the team plated two runs in the first inning against the Cyclones to go up 2-0. A pair of extra-base hits by Wheaton and Lorenz jumpstarted the scoring. DeWitt doubled with one out and was immediate brought home on Lorenz’s second triple of the season.
Wheaton drove home Lorenz via a SAC fly to right field to close out the scoring in the first.
The Gators offense cranked into high-gear in the bottom of the fourth inning and scored six runs to extend the lead out to 8-0.
Reynoso led off with a RBI single to left field to plate the first run and was followed up by four-consecutive doubles by Adams, DeWitt, Lorenz and Kvistad to round out the scoring.
Kelly Barnhill completed her second no-hitter of the season after she retired the side in order for the third time of the game.
Next up for the Gators is a rematch with Iowa State at 11 a.m. and will close out the Aquafina Invitational against Georgia Southern at 1:30 p.m.
On two back-to-back games where everything was clicking…
“I think the big thing today was having everyone contributing. We did really, really well today. It’s really hard to put the light on one player. I thought all of our players played really well. We were playing two good teams and we got two really good pitching performances out of our starters. Defensively we made all the plays, and then offensively it’s hard to argue with having 20 runs in two games. Up and down the lineup we had some big hits, some quality pinch-hits and running the bases. I thought we clicked on all cylinders, and it was very fun to watch.”
On the pitching performances…
I haven’t been able to say this so early in the season, but I thought Aleshia was really, really good today. Kelly was really really, good today. They haven’t been really good on the same day this season yet. When they’re really good, it makes for a great feeling in the dugout, it feels like having an extra hitter in the lineup. We definitely felt that benefit today.”
From the Players
On her first hits since the USF tournament…
“It’s a very good feeling. It’s a huge weight lifted off my shoulders, but it’s just something I couldn’t have done without my teammates and coaches all keeping my spirits up, keeping me hyped up, letting me know I’m going to get a hit and I’m putting in the work, and it’s just going to happen. Today it happened, and it was great. I’m feeling good.”
On seeing the ball really well…
“It was a lot better today than it was yesterday. So I’m happy for that because I was getting frustrated. I’m just trying to help out my team. It’s really awesome having Hannah (Adams) and Nicole (DeWitt) in front of me. When they get on base, it’s always an RBI opportunity for the Gators to get on top in the first inning.”
On scoring a lot of runs this season and her teammates hitting you in…
“We’re doing really well with our RBI situations. We’re not leaving many people on base. When we hit, we’re hitting in groups. That’s really good. We’re passing the rally cap along.”
· Pepsi will plant trees for every Florida run scored during the Aquafina Invitational.
o So far the Gators have scored 37 runs during the tournament.
· Aleshia Ocasio and Natalie Lugo combine for the Gators third combined one-hitter of the season.
o Florida now has 98 one-hitters, both individual and combined, in program history.
o Ocasio and Lugo have been a part of two of those one-hitters this season.
· Kelly Barnhill threw her fourth career no-hitter and second of the season against Iowa State.
o Her first no-hitter of the season was thrown against North Florida (Feb. 14).
· Sophia Reynoso went 2-for-3 against Maryland in the first game of the day.
o The pair of hits eliminated a string of 27 at-bats without a hit.
o Reynoso opened the season 5-for-5 at the plate in the Gators first two games of the season.
· Kayli Kvistad is hitting .625 on the week with 10 RBI on 5-of-8 hitting with two doubles and a grand slam.
· 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.
· The Gators scored four runs in the first and third innings against Maryland.
o Florida has now scored four or more runs in an inning 13 times this season.