The #2 Florida Gators opened SEC play against #23 Kentucky this weekend and swept the competition. Kelly Barnhill earned two wins and Florida improved to 22-1 on the season and earned a good start in league play.
After one weekend of conference play the following teams are still unbeaten in the SEC: Florida, Georgia, LSU, Tennessee, Texas A&M (and Mississippi State and South Carolina who haven’t begun conference play).
FLORIDA 6, KENTUCKY 0
Gainesville, FL– Florida pitcher Kelly Barnhill has now been a part of five no-hitters this season (including one perfect game) after the Gators blanked the Kentucky Wildcats to open SEC play on Friday.
Barnhill, the junior from Marietta, Georgia, threw seven strong innings, striking out 13 Kentucky hitters and just missed out on another perfect game by walking Jenny Schaper to lead off the second inning.
The Gators scored all six of their runs in the first inning as Jordan Matthews walked with the bases loaded. Janell Wheaton then singled to score Amanda Lorenz. Jordan Roberts earned two RBI with a single through short that scored Kayli Kvistad and Matthews. Florida’s final two runs came by way of error as Alex Voss reached on the mistake by Kentucky 3B Abbey Cheek, which scored Wheaton and Roberts.
W: Barnhill (10-0)
L: Erin Rethlake (4-3)
FLORIDA 3, KENTUCKY 2 (5)
Gainesville, FL– Kayli Kvistad battled through illness and was hardly able to speak after driving home the game winning run in walk-off fashion on Saturday. The Gators earned the series winner despite trailing #23 Kentucky 2-1 heading into their final at-bat.
Florida’s comeback effort was started by Sophia Reynoso’s single to right field which put a runner on with the top of the order up. Hannah Adams sacrificed Reynoso to second base before a walk by Nicole DeWitt put runners on first and third (as the fourth ball got away from the catcher, allowing Reynoso to advance). Left fielder Amanda Lorenz had an incredible at bat that resulted in a single that scored the tying run. Lorenz was down in the count, fouled off a few pitches, then ripped the ball up the middle. That’s when Kvistad struck. The senior first baseman, facing a full count, also singled up the middle, scoring DeWitt as the throw was up the line to clinch a dramatic 3-2 comeback
Aleshia Ocasio pitched well for Florida, but faced adversity early, giving up a run in the first and a solo home run in the third. Despite the rough beginning, Ocasio settled down, striking out eight of the last ten hitters she faced. “I started throwing the ball a little more down just to get them more off guard, that seemed to work,” Ocasio said after the game when asked about the adjustments she made in the circle during the game. Ocasio’s final line read: 7 innings pitched, six hits, two earned runs, and ten strikeouts without allowing a walk
Lorenz went 3-4 in the game to up her team best average to .471.
W: Ocasio (9-1)
L: Grace Baalman (7-2)
FLORIDA 4, KENTUCKY 0
Gainesville, FL– In the series finale against Kentucky, the Gators topped the Wildcats 4-0 to complete the sweep.
Florida was able to get an early run as freshman Jordan Matthews singled to left field to score Hannah Adams who had walked to lead off the inning. That was more than enough for Kelly Barnhill in the circle. Barnhill cruised to another complete game shutout victory behind a solid defensive effort. Of the four hits that Barnhill allowed, two were bunt-singles that just missed getting Kentucky’s Katie Reed out at first.
Florida tacked on two more runs in the third inning. Nicole DeWitt hit a two-out rocket that crashed into the wall, just inches from being gone. Amanda Lorenz followed with a shot that hit high on the scoreboard in left-center field for her fourth homer of the year.
Lorenz also made plays in the field. In the second inning, she traced a ball into foul territory and reached above the wall to steal an out for the Gators.
“Defensively and pitching wise we were really good…we found a way to win,” said head coach Tim Walton after the game. “We went to a little bit more smaller ball today with four bunts, but I thought we had to (Kentucky’s) pitcher had good stuff.”
Lorenz finished 2-2 with the homer and 2 RBI. Barnhill pitched seven innings, allowing four hits while striking out nine and walking one
W: Barnhill (11-0)
L: Autumn Humes (4-1)
Florida is now 22-1 on the season and 3-0 in SEC play. The Gators will travel to Athens to face the #11 Georgia Bulldogs. Georgia is 21-1 and has blanked Arkansas in the first two games of their series. (Game two was played this afternoon while UGA is leading the Razorbacks 4-0 in the 4th inning- these games were postponed due to rain on Sunday.
SEC STANDINGS (THROUGH MARCH 11):
|TEAM||SEC W||SEC L||OVERALL W||OVERALL L|