PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - The No. 1-ranked University of Florida softball team picked up two wins on Thursday at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic in Palm Springs, Calif. UF defeated No. 10 UCLA in the first game by a 2-1 score and earned a 5-2 victory over NC State in Game 2.
Florida improved to 2-0 this season against top-10 teams, as the Gators defeated No. 2 Michigan on the second day of the season.
In the circle, junior Delanie Gourley (5-0) tossed six solid innings against the No. 10 team in the country. After recording five strikeouts and allowing her first run of the season in the sixth inning, Gourley was relieved by sophomore Aleshia Ocasio who tossed a 1-2-3 seventh inning and earned her second save of the season.
In the nightcap, freshman Kelly Barnhill (4-0) recorded a career-high 14 strikeouts and allowed just two hits and two runs (one earned) in the Gators win over NC State.
Freshman Amanda Lorenz set the tone offensively for the Gators all night, as she was 2 for 3 with a double, one run scored and an RBI to go along with five walks between the two contests.
Florida is back in action tomorrow for day two of the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic with a doubleheader against No. 8 Washington and Nebraska beginning at 6 p.m. ET. Both games will be broadcast on WGGG-AM & WMOP-AM/FM and streamed online at FloSoftball.com. However, fans need a subscription to watch Flo's web stream to view each game.
UCLA Recap Delanie Gourley got off to a rough start in the first inning by allowing UCLA to load the bases with no one out. However, the junior hung tough and got out of the frame thanks to a heads up double play by Nicole DeWitt.
UF used that momentum to score one run in the top of the second on two hits. Aubree Munro got the rally going with a two-out walk and moved to second on a Justine McLean single.
Senior Kelsey Stewart recorded her third RBI of the season with a single up the middle, which scored Munro.
Florida tacked on its second run in the fourth, all with two outs, when Stewart notched her second single of the day and moved to second on a Munro hit by pitch. Rookie Amanda Lorenz took advantage and singled to left field scoring the speedy Stewart.
UCLA threatened in the third and fifth by getting a pair of runners on in each inning but failed to score both times.
The Bruins finally got on the board in the sixth when a pair of singles led off the inning. After fielder's choice placed runners at the corners, Taylor Pack smashed a double into left-center field scoring one Bruin but a Kirsti Merritt and Nicole DeWitt relay gunned down the pinch-runner Robyn Corruth at the plate to end the UCLA rally.
Sophomore Aleshia Ocasio relieved Gourley in the seventh and recorded a 1-2-3 inning. Gourley was in and out of trouble all night as she allowed at least one hit in every inning, except the fourth.
NC State Recap Kelly Barnhill recorded a career-high 14 strikeouts as she led the Gators to its 13th straight win to open the season. Overall, Barnhill threw a complete game, two-hitter but did allow the two aforementioned runs.
Florida opened the scoring in the top of the first when Kelsey Stewart walked to leadoff the game and Nicole DeWitt hit her first home run of the season to give UF a 2-0 lead.
Florida tallied another run in the third when back-to-back doubles by Amanda Lorenz and Taylore Fuller plated a Gator run.
After NC State had just two runners reach all game, the Wolfpack finally got to Barnhill in the sixth when they scored two runs on one hit and one Florida error. News & Notes
UF has now outscored its opponents this season, 97-7.
A season ago, UF had a plus-91 run differential (102-11) through 13 games.
The Gators currently sport the best fielding percentage (.993) and the one of the best earned run averages in the nation (0.55). For comparison through 13 games last season, Florida had committed 10 errors in its first 13 contests and had a fielding percentage of .967. UF went on to record its best fielding percentage (.981) and commit just 33 errors, which were both school records.
Florida's error in the sixth inning against NC State snapped a streak of 72 innings without a miscue Florida's senior class is now 186-28 and trying to catch UF's 2011 class which boasted a 238-33 mark during their four years.
Tim Walton is now just 12 wins away from his 700th win.
After giving up a run in the sixth inning against UCLA, Delanie Gourley snapped a streak of 27 consecutive scoreless innings dating back to last season. Her career long is 29 innings, which she accumulated during her freshman season in 2014.
The Marietta, Ga., native recorded 14 strikeouts against NC State; Barnhill becomes the third UF freshman pitcher to have a double-digit strikeout game in as many years and the fifth in the past six season (Ocasio - 2015; Gourley - 2014; Haeger - 2012; Rogers - 2011).
Florida recorded its fifth double play of the season (4UA (DeWitt) - 4 (DeWitt) - 2 (Munro)) to end the first inning against UCLA.
After recording hits in both games tonight, rookie Amanda Lorenz now has a nine-game hitting streak, the longest by a Gator this season.
Sophomore Nicole DeWitt hit the third home run of her career in the first inning against NC State. Coaches' Corner
Head Coach Tim Walton:
On Amanda Lorenz... "The best part about Amanda Lorenz is who is hitting behind Amanda Lorenz. I think that is going to be the biggest key to not only the rest of this weekend but going forward as well. She has unbelievable plate discipline. For example, if you throw her strikes she's going to hit it hard, if you throw her balls she's going to take a walk. For a young hitter to have that kind of discipline is tremendous, but it was a very impressive performance by her this evening." On Delanie Gourley...
"I thought Delanie [Gourley] pitched well. She made some really, really good pitches when she had to. Defensively we made some really nice plays behind her and really picked her up, but I thought she picked us up too. I thought she did a really good job against a very good hitting team. UCLA had seven hits and one beautiful bunt, but to limit them and hold them to just one run was very, very impressive." Series History
The Gators are now a combined 20-18 all-time against this weekend's opponents. Florida improved to 5-4 against UCLA and 6-2 vs. NC State.
UF went 3-0 against NC State during the regular season last year and last saw Washington in its 2014 NCAA Super Regional matchup.
Since the start of the 2015 season, Florida is now 4-0 against NC State.
Since Head Coach Tim Walton took the helm at Florida prior to the 2006 season, Florida has played at least five regular season games in California every year except his inaugural season as a Gator and in 2014. Overall, UF is now 40-8 when playing regular season games in The Golden State. In addition, UF is 25-2 in such contests since 2011.