The Gators softball team completed the USF Opening Weekend Tournament in Tampa on Sunday. Florida faced an NC State team that was coming off a thrilling victory over #7 Arizona. The Gators defeated the Wolfpack on a walkoff sac fly, then rallied behind the at-bat of a true freshman to defeat host South Florida.
SUNDAY (GAME ONE):
FLORIDA 2, NC STATE 1
Tampa, FL- Florida sophomore Jordan Matthews seems to have a flair for the dramatic. Obviously, we all remember Matthews’ blast that sent the Gators to Oklahoma City last year. All she did Sunday afternoon was send the Gators to another victory via walkoff.
The win moves the Gators to 4-0 on the season and Florida is now 28-0 all-time in tournaments at USF.
Florida pitcher Natalie Lugo navigated a two-out triple in the first inning with a strikeout, but settled in and retired nine straight thereafter.
Florida, however, scored a run early as Hannah Adams opened the contest with a single that was followed by an NC State error on Amanda Lorenz’s grounder to first. Danielle Romanello hit a one-out, RBI single that was too hot for Pack second baseman Natalie Jones too handle, easily scoring Adams from second.
The Gators had a number of opportunities to add to their lead, but failed to do so. Through four innings of play, Florida was only 1-7 with runners in scoring position. It didn’t take long for that to cost the Gators.
Kelly Barnhill took the circle to relieve Lugo in the fifth inning. NC State senior Natalie Jones took Barnhill’s second offering over the right-centerfield fence to tie the game.
The Gators had an opportunity in the sixth, but again failed to score. Head coach Tim Walton chose to pinch hit freshman Cheyenne Lindsey to open the sixth inning, and Lindsey responded with a single through the hole between first and second. Hannah Adams then bunted and while she appeared to beat the throw from Wolfpack third baseman Logan Morris, the umpire called her out. Walton attempted to catch NC State napping and sent pinch runner, Amanda Beane to third, but the Pack saw it and gunned her down easily.
Florida finally broke through in the seventh to end the suspense. Junior Kendyl Lindaman lead off with a single through the left side of the infield and Danielle Romanello and Jaimie Hoover each walked to load the bases with no out. Alex Voss grounded a ball to short which was immediately thrown home to catch the lead runner (Lindaman).
Then Jordan Matthews stepped up and sent a 2-0 pitch to right field that allowed pinch runner Haven Sampson to score easily and wrap up a wild one in Tampa.
- Natalie Lugo put Florida in position to win by going four innings and allowing only two hits. Lugo struck out six in the game.
- Kelly Barnhill entered the game in the fifth inning, and settled down after giving up a solo homer to her second batter. Barnhill retired the final eight hitters she faced (after the home run).
- Sophomore Hannah Adams finished 1-3 with a single and a walk and scored the first run of the game.
- Florida finished the game just 2-10 with runners in scoring position which seems to be plaguing this team early in the season.
- Freshman speedster Cheyenne Lindsey recorded her first hit as a Gator with a shot through the hole between first and second.
- Head coach Tim Walton: “I’m surprised at how well we’ve done pinch hitting [thus far].”
- First baseman Jordan Matthews: “My only thought was to just hit it deep enough.”
- Pitcher Kelly Barnhill: “Jordan Matthews gave us exactly what we needed to win.”
W: Barnhill (3-0)
L: Sydney Nester (1-1)
SUNDAY (GAME TWO):
FLORIDA 6, SOUTH FLORIDA 0
Tampa, FL- The Gators defeated the tournament host, South Florida in the finale on Sunday. The Gators powered past the Bulls thanks largely to a grand slam by 2B Hannah Adams in the fourth inning. Florida hit three homers in the contest and continue to bash the ball at a high rate.
South Florida opened the scoring in the first inning as CF AnaMarie Bruni and SS Lindsey Devitt both scorched doubles with Bruni scoring on Devitt’s shot.
The Gators responded, however, as Jaimie Hoover turned on one and sent it over the fence in left field to tie the game.
The Gators would strike again in the fourth frame as sophomore 2B Hannah Adams scorched a shot that landed beyond the right field fence. Adams’ blast doesn’t occur without an incredible at-bat by freshman third-sacker Hannah Sipos’. Sipos saw thirteen pitches and fouled off nine strikes from Bull pitcher Nicole Doyle.
Danielle Romanello continued her torrid start to the 2019 season by smacking her second homer to the opposite field. Romanello’s two run homer put the Gators ahead 7-1 in the seventh inning.
- The Gators are now 29-0 all-time in tournaments at USF.
- Jaimie Hoover crushed her second home run of the season and leads UF in that category.
- Senior Kelly Barnhill pitched five innings and allowed only two hits (to the first two hitters she faced). Barnhill struck out 11 and her ERA sits at 0.74 after one weekend of play.
- Freshman Elizabeth Hightower relieved Barnhill and threw only 21 pitches in her first two innings of work. More impressively, she caught a pair of USF hitters looking at strike three and struck out four total.
- Second baseman Hannah Adams, “Hannah (Sipos) saw a lot of pitches before me. I wouldn’t have gotten the swing I did without her (at-bat).
W: Barnhill (4-0)
L: Doyle (1-3)