Tuesday, May 23, 2017

UF Softball: No. 1 Florida Advances to 10th Super Regional in Program History

The No. 1 seeded Florida Gators (53-7) needed to play all four games in the Gainesville Regional to secure their tenth overall trip to super regionals. The regional itself was historic as there was a shutout in every single game.

Florida began their postseason run with a 9-0 victory over Florida A&M (23-32-1) in five innings. In the semifinal against Oklahoma State (38-25), the Gators used a clutch two-run single from Aleshia Ocasio in the fourth inning to bring home a narrow 2-0 victory over the Cowgirls.

In the regional final, Florida lost 1-0 as Oklahoma State plated a run in the sixth inning to force the Gators' first winner-take-all game since 2012. Quickly bouncing back from just their third non-conference loss of the year, the Gators shut out the Cowgirls by a score of 5-0 to advance to super regionals.

Stat Leaders
Here now are Florida's offensive leaders from the Gainesville Regional:

  • Hits: Amanda Lorenz (5) 
  • Doubles: Amanda Lorenz/Jordan Roberts/Aleshia Ocasio (1)
  • Triples: Janell Wheaton (1)
  • Home Runs: Amanda Lorenz/Nicole DeWitt (1)
  • RBI's: Amanda Lorenz/Nicole DeWitt (3)
  • Runs Scored: Nicole DeWitt (3)
  • Batting Average*: Amanda Lorenz (.625) 
  • Stolen Bases: Amanda Lorenz/Nicole DeWitt/Justine McLean/Lilly Mann (1)
  • Walks: Amanda Lorenz (3) 
  • Strikeouts: Nicole DeWitt/Aleshia Ocasio (2)
  • Hit By Pitch: Jordan Roberts (2)
  • At-Bats: Amanda Lorenz/Sophia Reynoso (11)
  • Sacrifice Bunts: Janell Wheaton (2)
  • Sacrifice Flies: Amanda Lorenz/Nicole DeWitt (1)

*Must have played in all three games

Gator Pitching
Throughout the regional, the Gator pitching staff proved why it is one of the best in the country. In the regional opener, senior left-hander Delanie Gourley (20-4, 0-.71 ERA) threw her fourth career no-hitter against Florida A&M. Gourley struck out eight and walked just one (spoiling her perfect game bid) as she notched her 19th win of the season.

In the regional semifinal vs Oklahoma State, sophomore right-hander Kelly Barnhill (23-2, 0.35 ERA) was sensational. Throwing her 12th shutout of the season, Barnhill stuck out 15 Cowgirls while walking just two and allowing just one hit in the sixth inning. It would be her fourth one-hitter in 2017 alone and her 23rd win of the season!

In the regional final, Barnhill was again tasked with shutting down the Cowgirls. She allowed just one earned run on three hits, struck out 13, walked one, and hit one batter, but it would not be enough. Oklahoma State would prevail 1-0 to set up a date with Delanie Gourley.

In the elimination game, Gourley was phenomenal as she allowed one hit in seven innings while walking one and fanning 11 Cowgirls. It would be her fourth one-hitter of her senior season and give her an even 20 wins on the year.

Here now are Florida's pitching leaders from the Gainesville Regional:

  • Wins: Delanie Gourley (2)
  • Strikeouts: Kelly Barnhill (28)
  • Walks: Kelly Barnhill (3)
  • Hits allowed: Kelly Barnhill (4)
  • Runs allowed: Kelly Barnhill (1)

Final Takeaway
Offensively, Florida outscored their opponents 14-1 and hit .314 as a team. From the mound, the duo of Gourley and Barnhill registered 47 strikeouts while allowing just one earned run on five total hits in 26 innings. Defensively, Florida made just one error in the four games.

This is just the third time ever in school history that Florida has advanced past regionals after losing a game. In the two previous instances (2008 and 2011), Florida went to the Women's College World Series.

Before even talking about Oklahoma City, however the No. 1 seeded Florida Gators (53-7) will have to go through a familiar foe in the No. 16 seeded Alabama Crimson Tide (45-16). The Gators have faced the Tide 66 times since their inception in 1997 and are 31-35 all-time against them. In the postseason, Florida has ran into Alabama five times and sports a perfect 5-0 record.

The last time these two hooked up in the NCAA Tournament, Florida won their first ever national championship by a score of 6-3. The last time they hooked up in general was in 2015 at Katie Seashole Pressly Softball Stadium. 'Bama took two of three games to win that series.

This is the third straight year that Florida will be playing an SEC opponent in their super regional. In 2015, they swept Kentucky and last season Georgia swept them. First pitch for Game 1 is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Thursday. It can be seen on ESPN and heard on WGGG & WMOP.



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