The #5 Florida softball team traveled to Starkville to face #19 Mississippi State and swiftly swept the series from the Bulldogs. Florida earned an 8-3 victory on Friday, but were forced to play a double-header on Saturday due to a poor forecast for Saturday. Florida is now two games ahead of Georgia with three conference games to play.
FLORIDA 8, MISSISSIPPI ST 3
Starkville, MS– Florida defeated the Bulldogs 8-3 in the series opener on Friday behind a 4-4 effort from Amanda Lorenz at plate and a complete game, two hitter from Kelly Barnhill in the circle.
Barnhill earned her 20th win in the game while striking out 10 despite allowing three earned runs.
Lorenz set the tone from the beginning crushing a solo homer in the top of the first to put Florida ahead. Just three hitters later, Aleshia Ocasio belter her third homer of the season, a two-run shot, that put the Gators ahead 3-0.
After a second inning homer by MSU’s Kat Moore in the second inning, Florida rebounded by putting a pair of runs on the scoreboard in the top of the third. Jordan Matthews hit an RBI single to right field that scored Nicole DeWitt.
The Gators added a run in the fourth on a DeWitt sacrifice fly to center that scored Alex Voss and a pair in the sixth. Lorenz hit an RBI triple and then scored on another DeWit sac fly.
Voss, Florida’s nine-hole hitter, did a good job with a pair of hits in her three at-bats to turn the lineup over to the top of the order.
W: Barnhill (20-1)
L: Candace Denis (4-3)
SATURDAY (GAME ONE):
FLORIDA 6, MISSISSIPPI ST 2
Starkville, MS– Florida clinched a series victory with a 6-2 win behind a fourth inning grand slam from Amanda Lorenz.
Florida grabbed a lead in the second inning when Janell Wheaton hit her third homer of the year to left center.
Mississippi State bounced back in the third with an RBI groundout by Sarai Niu to tie the score.
Then came Lorenz’s blast. Jordan Matthews led off the fourth by reaching on an error, Alex Voss then singled, which was followed by a single by Hannah Adams that loaded the bases for Lorenz. For Lorenz, it was her seventh homer of the year and second in the series.
Florida tacked on another run in the sixth when Lorenz scored on Nicole DeWitt’s double.
The win put Florida up to forty,becoming just the second team in the NCAA to reach the mark.
W: Ocasio (16-5)
L: Cassady Knudsen (13-5)
SATURDAY (GAME TWO):
FLORIDA 3, MISSISSIPPI ST 0
Starkville, FL– The series finale was a classic pitchers duel. Kelly Barnhill and Holly Ward were nearly equally dominant in the circle for their team.
The Florida offense managed just two hits, but were able to manufacture a trio of runs.
The Gators took a 1-0 lead in the third when Sophia Reynoso walked, but managed to get to third base due to a pair of groundouts and finally scored when MSU catcher Montana Davidson threw the ball into left field on a pick off attempt.
Florida finally picked up their first hit of the game in the seventh. Jaimie Hoover doubled to right which scored Aleshia Ocasio who reached on an error immediately prior to Hoover’s at-bat. Janell Wheaton hit a sac fly to score Hoover and make it a 3-0 advantage and provide some run support for Barnhill.
Barnhill finished with a complete game, striking out five and walking one while only allowing three hits in earning her 21st victory of the season.
W: Barnhill (21-1)
L: Holly Ward (12-6)
Florida is now 41-7 overall and 15-3 in conference play with just one series left in the regular season. The Gators stand two games ahead of Georgia entering the final weekend. Florida will face rival Florida State on Wednesday in Gainesville with he first pitch set for 6:00 PM.