Florida opened up postseason play with an 11-0 victory over Alabama State (28-27). From there, the Gators would take on UCF (38-22) in the regional semifinal as well as the final. The Knights presented no threat, as Florida beat them 5-0 in the semifinal and 8-0 in the final.
Every game but the regional semifinal ended in five innings due to the mercy rule. As a team, Florida hit .383 in regional play and scored 24 runs. Florida had two home runs over the weekend which both came against UCF.
Freshman left fielder Amanda Lorenz launched a solo homer for her eighth long ball of the season in the regional semifinal and sophomore outfielder Nicole DeWitt blasted a three-run shot for her seventh bomb of the year in the regional final.
The Gators swiped four bases between the three games. Yet again, they all were against UCF. Junior outfielder Justine McLean stole her 14th bag of the season, senior third baseman Taylore Fuller swiped two bases to boost her total to five, and senior second baseman Kelsey Stewart maintained her team-lead of 15 stolen bags with a base swipe in the regional final.
Here now are Florida's offensive leaders from the Gainesville Regional:
- Hits: Amanda Lorenz (4)
- Doubles: Janell Wheaton/Taylore Fuller/Kirsti Merritt (1)
- Triples: Nicole DeWitt (1)
- Home Runs: Amanda Lorenz/Nicole DeWitt (1)
- RBI's: Nicole DeWitt (6)
- Runs Scored: Nicole DeWitt (5)
- Batting Average*: Taylore Fuller (.600, 3-5 in regionals)
- Steals: Taylore Fuller (2)
- Walks: Nicole DeWitt/Kayli Kvistad (3)
- Strikeouts: Kelsey Stewart/Kirsti Merritt/Aubree Munro/Taylor Fuller/Amanda Lorenz (1)
- Hit By Pitch: Kelsey Stewart/Kirsti Merritt/Aubree Munro/Kayli Kvistad (1)
- At-Bats: Kelsey Stewart (10)
*Must have played in all three games
Looking at Florida's pitching, they did a spectacular job all weekend. Besides not allowing a run, the staff threw two one-hitters and allowed just five hits in regional play. The trio of Aleshia Ocasio (22-1, 0.65 ERA), Kelly Barnhill (15-1, 1.36 ERA), and Delanie Gourley (19-3, 0.70 ERA) all combined for 30 strikeouts and just three walks!
Against Alabama State in the regional opener, it was a tag team effort between Ocasio and Barnhill. Ocasio fanned seven batters over four innings and the freshman Barnhill closed it out by striking out the side after allowing a leadoff walk. The Hornets managed just one hit off of Ocasio.
In the regional semifinal against UCF, Delanie Gourley took the mound and spun an absolute gem! Allowing only one hit in Florida's only seven inning game of the regional, the junior struck out 13 Knights while walking just two and of course allowing no runs! This was the sixth time this season that Delanie registered double-digits K's in a game and her third time reaching 13 strikeouts.
In the regional final against UCF, Coach Tim Walton went back to his ace and threw Ocasio. Once again, the sophomore got the job done. Going a full five innings, Ocasio scattered three hits, struck out seven, and walked none as Florida punched their ticket back to super regionals.
Here now are Florida's pitching leaders from the Gainesville Regional:
- Wins: Aleshia Ocasio (2)
- Strikeouts: Delanie Gourley (13)
- Walks: Delanie Gourley (2)
- Hits allowed: Aleshia Ocasio (4)
As another indicator of how dominant Florida's pitching staff was, it's worth noting that not one opposing runner reached third base in any of the three games. Wow!
The No. 1 seeded Florida Gators now have a date with one of their oldest rivals in the No. 15 seeded Georgia Bulldogs (43-18). With Florida having not faced Georgia in either the 2016 regular season or the SEC Tournament, this is quite a time for these two adversaries to meet.
Obviously the matchup favors the Gators, as they are the host team and the Bulldogs have not beaten them since the 2014 SEC Tournament. I personally think Florida will win this super regional in two games simply due to the fact that they are the best team in the country and have a plethora of players with significant postseason experience. In the process, the Gators will come one step closer to reaching softball immortality as they seek a three-peat.
Game 1 of the Gainesville Super Regional is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 26th. It can be seen on ESPN2 and heard on WGGG-AM & WMOP-AM/FM.
*All stats accredited to FloridaGators.com
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