PALM SPRINGS, Calif. -- The University of Florida softball team earned a pair victories over the Washington (3-1) and Nebraska (8-0, 5 innings) on the second day of the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic in Palm Springs, Calif.
Florida improved to 3-0 this season against top-10 teams, as the Gators defeated the No. 8 Huskies this afternoon.
In addition with its win over NU, UF has now recorded run-rule wins in nine of its 15 contests in 2016.
Florida used all three of its pitchers tonight to earn the pair of victories. Against UW, sophomore Aleshia Ocasio started and threw four innings allowing one run on seven hits while striking out two. Junior Delanie Gourley (6-0) relieved the right-hander and tossed the final three frames and recorded four strikeouts.
Freshman Kelly Barnhill tossed a one-hit complete game, the third of her career, as she shutout Nebraska in Florida's run-rule win.
Offensively, sophomore Janell Wheaton paced the Gators as she went 4 for 6 in the doubleheader with two home runs, two runs scored and three RBI.
Wheaton hit both her homers against UW to propel the Gators to the win.
Florida is back in action tomorrow against Utah for day three of the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic, and its final game in California. The game 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.
Aleshia Ocasio was in and out of trouble during her four innings in the circle but only allowed the Huskies to score in the second. She was relieved by junior Delanie Gourley in the fifth, who threw the final three innings and recorded her sixth win of the season.
During the second, Washington loaded the bases with no one out following a walk, single and fielder's choice.
Washington's Trysten Melhart drove in Taylor Van Zee on a single to left field, which turned out to be UW's only run of the game. The rally was over before it started though, as Taylore Fuller recorded the Gators sixth double play of the season by stepping on third and throwing to first to end scoring threat.
Florida evened the score fourth and took the lead in the sixth on Janell Wheaton solo home runs.
The sophomore became the first Gator since Bailey Castro on May 2, 2015 at Missouri to hit two homers in the same game. In addition, she now has four long balls on the season, meanwhile no other Gator has more than one.
UF added an insurance run later in the inning on an Aubree Munro double to left, which scored Kirsti Merritt who was hit by a pitch earlier in the inning.
In the seventh, Gourley walked the leadoff batter Melhart, but induced a 1-6-3 double play to take the wind out of the Huskies sail. The Lakeside, Calif. native struck out the final batter of the game to secure the victory for the Gators.
Florida recorded an 8-0 five-inning victory over the Nebraska in the nightcap of its doubleheader. The Gators put constant offensive pressure on Nebraska all night.
After stranding Kelsey Stewart on third after her leadoff triple in the first inning, UF capitalized in the second. Senior Kirsti Merritt was hit by a one-out pitch before Kayli Kvistad walked. Aubree Munro followed with a double to the gap in right center to give the Gators a 1-0 lead.
Florida continued to threaten in the third and finally broke through with a big inning. The first two batters reached on a walk and a single before Taylore Fuller launched a towering three-run homer to left field to give the Gators a 4-0 lead.
In the fourth, the Gators loaded the bases on a pair of singles and a walk. An RBI single, an RBI ground out and a two-out RBI single stretched the Florida lead to 7-0.
Florida then wrapped up its ninth run-rule victory of the season in the bottom of the fifth, scoring the winning run on a two-out single followed by a Husker fielding error.
Kelly Barnhill (5-0) tossed a one-hit shutout and struck out eight to earn the victory, retiring the final 10 Husker hitters. While the Gators had multiple base runners in every inning, Nebraska managed only three base runners.
News & Notes
- UF has now outscored its opponents this season, 108-8.
- A season ago, UF had a plus-114 run differential (129-15) through 15 games.
- The Gators currently sport one of the best fielding percentages (.986) and earned run averages in the nation (0.56). For comparison through 15 games last season, Florida had committed 11 errors in its first 15 contests and had a fielding percentage of .968. 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 188-28 and trying to catch UF's 2011 class which boasted a 238-33 mark during their four years.
- Tim Walton is now just 10 wins away from his 700th win.
- Florida recorded its sixth and seventh double plays of the season against Washington.
- That marked the first game this season that Florida had multiple double plays in.
- Taylor Schwarz was involved with the second double play against UW and now holds the school record outright with 61 DP's turned in her career.
- After going hitless against Washington, rookie Amanda Lorenz snapped her nine-game hitting streak, which is the longest by a Gator this season.
- Sophomore Janell Wheaton hit the fourth and fifth home runs of her career against Washington.
- Wheaton became the first Gator since Bailey Castro on May 2, 2015 at Missouri to hit two long balls in one game.
- Kelsey Stewart hit the first triple of the season and the 28th of her career in the first inning against Nebraska.
- Taylore Fuller hit her second home run of the season and 30th of her career in the third inning against NU.
Head Coach Tim Walton:
On Janell Wheaton... "Janell [Wheaton] had a really good day, a clutch day. I thought she did a good job of learning from her at bats. She had a bad at bat her first time up against Washington, but she didn't sulk and came up and got a better pitch in her next at bat. Overall, I thought her approach to the game was great and her ability to deliver when we needed her to in both games was outstanding."
On Florida's Offensive Approach... "Before the third inning [against Nebraska], I pulled everyone in and told them that when we have a runner on third with no one out we have to score the runner. In addition, when it's first and second and no one out, we have to be able to move those runners. I'm preaching it and preaching it that this team has to create offensive productivity. We have to be an offense that if there are outs, those have to be productive outs. If we get a hits then we have to score runs or move runners along. I think that's what we're trying to get to. We need to be a team that's fun to watch and does a lot of things very well."
- The Gators are now a combined 22-18 all-time against this weekend's opponents.
- Despite the win, Florida is still just 6-10 all-time against Washington. However, the Gators have now won three of the last four meetings between the two schools.
- Florida is now 3-1 against Nebraska.
- 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 42-8 when playing regular season games in The Golden State. In addition, UF is 27-2 in such contests since 2011.