FLORIDA 11, GEORGIA 3 (5)
Oklahoma City, OK– Survive and advance is he name of the game when it gets to tournament time. On Thursday, that’s exactly what the Gators did en route to a run-rule, 11-3 thrashing of rival Georgia.
The Bulldogs actually got out to an early lead when Justice Milz hit a two-run homer to left center in the top of the first inning. However, the Gators showed their resilience immediately.
Florida struck with five runs in the bottom half of the first, highlighted by Jordan Matthews’ two run double and Aleshia Ocasio’s three run homer to right field.
The Gators added one run in the second to up the advantage to 6-2 when Janell Wheaton grounded into a fielder’s choice with the bases loaded to score Amanda Lorenz.
The Bulldogs got one back in the third when Alyssa DiCarlo hit her 21st homer of the season.
Florida head coach Tim Walton made the decision to pinch hit for Matthews in the fourth inning, using sophomore Jordan Roberts off the bench. Roberts came through in spades, hitting a 1-0 pitch so far out of the park, UGA outfielder’s chose not to turn around. The Gators piled it on in the fifth. Hannah Adams led off the final frame with a solo homer and Georgia decided to turn to Amanda Ablan to pitch. Ablan struggled to find the strikezone, walking three straight Gators before being taken out for Keara Napoli. Napoli got Nicole DeWitt to fly out for the first out of the inning, but then walked Kayli Kvistad to put Florida within one run of a run-rule finish. It wouldn’t take long. Down 0-2 in the count, Janell Wheaton was hit by a pitch that scored Jaimie Hoover for the game ending run.
Aleshia Ocasio was a surprise starter, but comes away with her twenty-third win of the year. Ocasio finished with five innings pitched, 7 hits allowed, 7 strikeouts, and one walk. She allowed three runs, all earned.
For the Florida offense, it was a total team effort. Only Adams recorded multiple base hits, going 2-3. The Gators chased UGA’s starting pitcher, Mary Wilson Avant after only 1.2 innings of work. Avant allowed six runs while walking three and striking out only one.
In the second inning, Lorenz was walked with one out. This was the Gators 350th walk of the season, which set an NCAA record, surpassing Auburn’s 349 in 2016.
In 35 years of the Women’s College World Series, an opening day winner has won the national title 33 times.
The Gators will face UCLA contest in a winner’s bracket game on Friday at 9:30 PM EST. UCLA defeated Florida State 7-4 on Friday despite trailing 4-1 entering the sixth inning.
W: Ocasio (23-7)
L: Mary Wilson Avant (12-4)