Softball

SB: Gators open 2018 regionals with run-rule victory, no-hitter

FLORIDA 8, BETHUNE-COOKMAN 0 (6)

RUNS HITS ERRORS
B-C 0 0 1
GATORS 8 8 0

Photo by: Benjamin Fox / The Gator Chomp Blog

Gainesville, FL– The Florida Gators have received impressive pitching performances in NCAA regional play since their early exit in 2012. Friday was no exception. Backed by the power of sophomore Jaimie Hoover and a combined no-hitter, the Gators stand just two wins away from another Super Regional berth.

Kelly Barnhill to threw four innings before being relieved by Aleshia Ocasio for the final two frames. This was the second combined no-no for this duo on the year.

Barnhill finished with 10 strikeouts while only walking one Wildcat. At one point, Barnhill struck out nine Bethune hitters consecutively, which is a personal record. Ocasio added four more strikeouts while in the circle.

Bethune-Cookman appeared to have the start they wanted. The teams were scoreless after one frame and the Wildcats had navigated through the heart of the Gators order.

However, as anyone can tell you, there is no ‘weak link’ in this Florida lineup. In the second inning Jaimie Hoover hit a pinch-hit, two out, three-run homer and the Gators never looked back. Hoover said after the game that “I knew it was going out when I hit it.”

A 47-minute lightning delay forced the teams off the field in the top of the third, but Florida seemed unaffected.

The Gators added three runs in the bottom of the third when Hoover again connected. With the bases loaded, Hoover singled up the middle to score Janell Wheaton and Aleshia Ocasio. The five RBI tied a career high for Hoover.

With the Florida aces dealing, it seemed only a matter of time before the Gators offense put the run-rule in effect.

Nicole DeWitt took care of that in the sixth inning, hitting a two run bomb to right.

Florida head coach Tim Walton said he was thankful for the fans who came out despite the forecast.

When asked if he had a tough time weighing whether to pull Barnhill with a no-hitter, Walton responded, “winning a regional is more important than throwing a no-hitter,” while adding that this is the ninth no-hitter by Florida pitching this season.

Since Florida lost to South Florida in the 2012 Regionals, the Gators have surrendered only one earned run over 107 innings of regional play. That equates to an ERA of 0.07. Note: Florida did allow an unearned run in the 2013 Regionals against both Hampton and USF.

The Gators will face Ohio State, who defeated South Florida 3-0 on Friday, at 2:30 PM. The two teams have met two times before, but not since 2014. Florida has won both previous contests.

W: Barnhill (27-1)

L: Alexis Bermudez (13-10)

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