Taking the mound in her first ever WCWS start, sophomore Kelly Barnhill (25-3, 0.35 ERA) was fantastic. In four innings, she allowed no runs on three hits while striking out five and walking just one batter. After giving up a leadoff single in the fifth, Barnhill was replaced with senior left-hander Delanie Gourley.
Texas A&M notched another single off Gourley, but she then settled down and recorded a strikeout for the first out. She then induced an inning-ending double play as third baseman Aleshia Ocasio snagged a line drive and threw it to second baseman Nicole DeWitt for the force out.
With the run-rule being eight after five innings, Florida had won the ballgame! It would be Barnhill's 25th victory of the season.
Offensively, the Gators banged out eight hits while scoring in every inning they batted. They put up two in the first and second, one in the third, and three in the fourth to put the run-rule in effect.
Just one Gator had multiple base knocks in the WCWS opener and it was junior Aleshia Ocasio. Going 2-3 on the day, Ocasio hit the game-winning three run home run in the bottom of the fourth inning to push the lead to 8-0.
Joining Ocasio in the the offensive onslaught, junior Nicole DeWitt went a perfect 1-1 with two runs scored, two RBI's, and a game-high two walks. Junior catcher Janell Wheaton also had a pair of runs driven in, as she as well went a perfect 1-1 with two walks.
For the rest of the Gator lineup, sophomore left fielder Amanda Lorenz went 1-2 with two runs scored and a walk out of the leadoff spot. Behind her, junior first baseman Kayli Kvistad went 1-2 with a double, a run scored, and a walk.
Towards the bottom of the batting order, redshirt freshman shortstop Sophia Reynoso went 1-2 with an RBI while senior outfielder Justine McLean went 1-3 with a run scored.
After dispatching their second straight SEC foe this postseason, Florida is firing on all cylinders as they head into the quarterfinals of the Women's College World Series. Before previewing their next matchup, here are my final tidbits on the Gators' opening round victory:
- Florida is now 23-12 all-time in the WCWS.
- The Gators have now won three consecutive opening round games in the WCWS.
- This is the second time in school history that Florida has run-ruled a team in the WCWS.
- In their fourth ever meeting in the WCWS, this is just the second time that Florida has defeated Texas A&M in Oklahoma City.
- Ocasio's multi-hit game was her 13th of the season.
- This is Florida's 38th shutout of the season.
- This is Florida's 17th run-rule victory of the season.
The No. 1 Florida Gators (56-8) will keep it in the SEC for the quarterfinals as they take on the No. 13 LSU Tigers (48-20). This will be the first meeting between these two rivals this season, with LSU leading the all-time series 32-27.
The Gators and Bayou Bengals have hooked up just once in the WCWS, with Florida winning that 2014 quarterfinal matchup by a score of 4-0. The first pitch of this year's quarterfinal meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday, June 2nd. The game can be seen on ESPN and heard on WGGG and/or WMOP.
As for Texas A&M, they conclude their season at 47-12 and should be very proud of how far they came this year.
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