GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida captured its 17th victory of the 2016 season with a 7-2 victory over Illinois State at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium on Thursday evening. This came on the eve of UF's Aquafina Invitational, which kicks off Friday at 11 a.m.
The Gators recorded a season-high 14 hits, as UF scored five times in second and once in the fifth and sixth innings during tonight's contest.
Florida opened the scoring in the bottom of the second when sophomore Kayli Kvistad hit her first home run of the season and seventh of her career to right field.
Later in the frame after UF loaded the bases with two outs, rookie Amanda Lorenz delivered a two-out, two-run single to left. The Gators tallied their final two runs of the inning when Merritt crossed home plate on a passed ball and sophomore Janell Wheaton drove in Lorenz with a single to left.
UF totaled five runs in the inning on six hits.
Illinois State cut into Florida's lead in the fourth with a pair of runs without getting a hit.
The Redbirds scored their first run following a walk, hit by pitch and a UF throwing error. That tally became earned later in the inning after two more walks from Barnhill loaded the bases and prompted a pitching change.
Aleshia Ocasio relieved the rookie and walked Abby Turczyn forcing in another Redbirds run. The sophomore bounced back and struck out Kaitlyn Knary to end the inning, but the damage was done.
Undaunted, Florida got those two runs back in the ensuing two innings. The first came on a Janell Wheaton RBI triple and second on a passed ball, as senior Taylor Schwarz scampered home after she recorded a single earlier in the inning.
In the circle, Florida threw its three pitchers in the same game for the first time this season. Freshman Kelly Barnhill (6-0), sophomore Aleshia Ocasio and junior Delanie Gourley allowed a combined two runs on two hits while notching 14 strikeouts and walking five Redbird hitters.
Florida continues its eight-game homestand tomorrow with the Gators first game at the Aquafina Invitational. Over the weekend, UF will play FIU twice and have a single game against Illinois State, South Alabama and Florida A&M. The Redbirds, Panthers, Jaguars and Rattlers also will play a total of seven additional games during the tournament.