PALM SPRINGS, Calif. -- The No. 1-ranked University of Florida softball team defeated Utah 1-0 on Saturday to complete a perfect five-game road trip in California. Sophomore right-hander Aleshia Ocasio (5-0) earned the win after she allowed just one hit to go along with six strikeouts and no walks over six innings.
The St. Cloud, Fla. native retired 18 straight Utah hitters after allowing a single to start the game.
Offensively, Florida had runners on in each of the first five innings, including two in third and two in the fourth, before the Gators finally broke through in the fifth.
During that inning, sophomore Nicole DeWitt and freshman Amanda Lorenz reached on a single and walk to put runners at first and second with one out. As she has all weekend, sophomore Janell Wheaton came through with an RBI single to right field scoring DeWitt from second.
Junior Delanie Gourley relieved Ocasio and tossed a clean seventh to preserve the win and earn her first save of the season and the eighth of her career.
News & Notes
- UF has now outscored its opponents this season, 109-8.
- A season ago, UF had a plus-121 run differential (139-18) through 16 games.
- The Gators currently sport one of the best fielding percentages (.987) and earned run averages in the nation (0.52). For comparison, Florida had committed 13 errors in its first 16 contests and had a fielding percentage of .966. UF went on to record its best fielding percentage (.981) and commit just 33 errors, which were both school records.
- Florida's senior class is now 189-28 and trying to catch UF's 2011 class which boasted a 238-33 mark during their four years.
- Tim Walton is now just nine wins away from his 700th win.
- The Gators batted .353 on the weekend and its pitching staff compiled a 0.64 earned run average, with 40 strikeouts and seven walks.
- Senior Kelsey Stewart paced the Gators at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic as she hit .556 (10 for 18) with one triple, one RBI and five runs scored.
- Janell Wheaton was the only other Gator to hit above .400 this week, as the sophomore was 7 for 17 with two home runs, six RBI and three runs scored.
- In the circle, Kelly Barnhill and Delanie Gourley went a combined 4-0 in 22.0 innings pitched with 31 strikeouts.
Head Coach Tim Walton:
On Aleshia Ocasio...
"She (Aleshia Ocasio) was great. Aleshia came out of the gate OK, as she left a couple of pitches up in the first inning, but after that she really settled in and changed speeds well. I thought she did a good job with her rise ball too. Aleshia used her defense when she needed too and threw a good game overall."
On Janell Wheaton...
"What can you say? You just have to smile when you hear Janell Wheaton's name every time there's a clutch hit, game-winning hit or big RBI. It takes everyone on the team to be successful but it's nice to be able to lean on someone who's hitting like that in the middle of your lineup. When we get runners on for her, she just seems to continue to deliver, which is clutch."
On Florida's start to the season...
"If you would've told me that we were going to be 16-0 after our first three weekends of the season, I would've said that it's going to take outstanding pitching and great defense, which is exactly what we've gotten. We've pitched really, really well and we've played great defense. Our hitting is starting to come around. We're starting to spray the ball a lot more up and down the lineup. I'm just really pleased that it's not just one hitter."
- The Gators are now a combined 23-18 all-time against this weekend's opponents.
- With the win, Florida is now 3-1 all-time against Utah.
- 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 43-8 when playing regular season games in The Golden State. In addition, UF is 28-2 in such contests since 2011.
Florida will host the Aquafina Invitational next weekend at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium. The tournament begins Thursday night, when the Gators will meet Illinois State at 6 p.m. ET.