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No. 1 Florida completes sweep of opening weekend games

1755 days ago
Florida Athletics
Photo: Florida Athletics

TAMPA, Fla. -- The University of Florida softball team completed a sweep of its four games at the USF Wilson-DeMarini Tournament with wins on Sunday against Virginia Tech and USF. Florida run-ruled the Hokies, 8-0 (6 innings), and Bulls, 11-1 (5 innings).

UF outscored its four Tampa opponents 38-1, while mercy-ruling all of them. In addition, Florida shutout and ruled-ruled its first three opponents for the first time since 2012.

The Gators became the first defending NCAA Champion to shut out its first three opponents since 1992, when Arizona shut out its first seven foes.

Aleshia Ocasio (1-0) tossed a three-hit six-inning shutout against Va. Tech in the opening game. The sophomore notched seven strikeouts and walked just one. She faced just 12 batters through the first four innings, but allowed three hits in the final two frames.

In the nightcap, freshman Kelly Barnhill and junior Delanie Gourley (2-0) combined for seven punch outs while allowing just one run on two hits.

Offensively, freshman Amanda Lorenz led the way as she was 2 for 3 with a double, three runs scored and three RBI vs. the Hokies. Against the Bulls, sophomore Janell Wheaton went 3 for 3 with five RBI, one run scored and hit her second-career home run.

Since 2010, UF is now 28-1 when playing in Tampa/Clearwater during the season's first weekend (only loss: Feb. 13, 2010, 3-0 vs. Georgia Tech).

Florida will open its home schedule on Wednesday when it hosts Jacksonville in a doubleheader at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium at 5 p.m. The home opener will be streamed on SEC Network+.

Virginia Tech Recap

Right-hander Aleshia Ocasio (1-0) got Florida off to a good start, as she retired the Hokies in order in the top of the first. UF carried that momentum into the bottom half of the inning when sophomore Janell Wheaton recorded a two-out, two-run single right field.

The Gators never looked back adding five runs in the second and the run-rule clinching tally in the sixth.

In the second, Florida recorded two walks and two hits before rookie Amanda Lorenz hit a bases-clearing three-run double to give the Gators a 6-0 advantage. Later in the inning after Lorenz moved to third on a wild pitch and Wheaton scored her on a ground out to first base. The Lorenz double was the first extra-base hit of the season for Florida.

The Hokies had their best chance to score in the fifth inning, when Kelsey Mericka and Vanessa Gonzalez recorded a single and double, the first two hits Ocasio surrendered all day, to give Virginia Tech runners at second and third with no one out.

However, Ocasio didn't blink and induced a popup then recorded back-to-back strikeouts to get out of the inning without any damage.

UF clinched its mercy-rule win in the sixth when Lorenz scored from second on a single up the middle from sophomore Nicole DeWitt.

USF Recap

Florida scored in the first inning for the fourth-straight game and this time it was all with two outs.

Rookie Amanda Lorenz walked and senior Taylore Fuller singled to left, setting up Janell Wheaton, who roped a single into right field giving UF the early lead.

UF added three runs in the second on two hits, three walks and a hit by pitch. The singles were recorded by Taylor Schwarz and Justine McLean with one out and the walks (Kirsti Merritt, Lorenz, Wheaton) and hit batter (Fuller) are what forced the runs in.

After an Aubree Munro single led off the third, her classmate, Taylor Schwarz, who was making her first start of the season, hit Florida's first home run of the 2016 campaign to give the Gators a 6-0 lead.

In the bottom of the third, the Bulls chased freshman Kelly Barnhill as she gave up one run, walked three and surrendered one hit without getting an out.

Junior Delanie Gourley (2-0) relieved the rookie, inheriting a bases loaded jam and two balls on the batter. She didn't give up a run. The Lakeside, Calif. product induced two popups and stuck out the third hitter looking.

Florida added two runs in the fourth and three runs in the fifth to bring the Gators to their run-rule lead off, 11-1. In the mix of that two inning burst of runs, Janell Wheaton hit the second home run of her career.

Florida Head Coach Tim Walton:
"The way Delanie Gourley came in relief today [against USF] really set a tone for us. Knowing that there isn't just one pitcher on this staff and that an opportunity for all three of them can arise in any game at any given time. And they've all proven that through their work ethic. Overall, I liked the way we came out and competed this weekend. We just played really hard and hardly made any mistakes, period. Whether that being in the box score or not. We looked like a sharp team at times and did a good job overall of executing. With that said, there is a lot of improvements we can and will make, but I just love the way we competed this weekend."