GAINESVILLE, Fla. - The University of Florida softball team defeated Illinois State, 11-1 (six innings), and Florida A&M, 4-1, on the final day of the 2016 Aquafina Invitational. Florida captured the Invitational title after posting a 5-0 record this weekend while outscoring its opponents, 44-5.
The pitching tandem of Delanie Gourley and Kelly Barnhill combined for Florida single-game record 18 strikeouts against the Rattlers in the second game of Florida's doubleheader on Sunday afternoon.
Gourley recorded a career-high 13 strikeouts in 5.1 innings pitched, and Barnhill dealt five strikeouts to the only five Rattlers she faced.
Florida eclipsed its previous record of 17 strikeouts, which it has achieved twice in school history. Last season, now-sophomore Aleshia Ocasio had 17 strikeouts against Florida A&M on May 16 in the NCAA Regional. Her mark tied Renise Landry's from Feb. 20, 2000 against Samford (eight innings).
For the week, including Thursday's night's contest against Illinois State, Florida was led by sophomore Kayli Kvistad who hit .583 (7 for 12) with two home runs, one double, seven RBI and five runs scored. Her classmate, Janell Wheaton, hit .500 (6 for 12) with one homer, one triple, seven RBI and two runs scored.
In the circle, each of Florida's three pitchers earned a pair of wins but Gourley recorded the most strikeouts (26) and allowed the least amount of walks (0). Barnhill recorded Florida's third save of the season and first of her career on Sunday afternoon against the Rattlers.
Florida is now 22-0 this season, which is tied for the third-best start to a season in school history. UF began the 2011 season 24-0 and the 2015 season 28-0.
After Florida left the bases loaded in the first inning, Illinois State's offense wasted no time in the bottom of the frame as Annie Heineman led off with a single up the middle. Riley Hale followed with a bunt and Heineman beat the throw to second, giving ISU two runners with no outs in the inning. Two batters later after a Regan Romshek sacrifice bunt moved the runners into scoring position, Riley Strandgard singled up the middle to drive in Heineman and give ISU a 1-0 lead.
This marked just the third time UF has trailed in a game this season.
Undaunted, Florida tied the game in the top of the second with a solo home run from Kayli Kvistad, her second of the season and this week.
UF added a pair of runs in the third inning when Kayli Kvistad and Aubree Munro recorded RBI singles to score Taylore Fuller and Kirsti Merritt, who reach base earlier in the inning by way of a single and walk
In the fifth, Chelsea Herndon recorded an RBI on an ISU miscue and Kelsey Stewart notched a sacrifice fly later in the inning.
Florida tacked on two runs in the sixth due to Redbird errors and captured its four runs on RBI singles by Kvistad, Aubree Munro and Nicole DeWitt
For the game, Kayli Kvistad and Aubree Munro combined to go 6 for 6 with one home run, five RBI and two runs scored.
In the circle, sophomore Aleshia Ocasio (7-0) tossed a complete and allowed just one run on four hits while striking out six and not walking a batter.
Delanie Gourley got Florida off to a good start by striking out five of the first six batters she faced.
However, Florida fell behind for just the fourth time all season and for the second-straight game when FAMU scored one run in the top of the third inning on three infield hits and a passed ball.
Tashayla Irvis scored the Rattler's run, while Nachelle Watson drove her in.
Florida responded quickly in the bottom of the third inning when Kelsey Stewart led off the inning with a double and later scored on a Janell Wheaton sac fly.
Later in the inning, Kirsti Merritt recorded an RBI single with runners on first and second. Taylor Schwarz then earned an RBI walk after Taylore Fuller drew a base on balls to load the bases before her.
UF scored its final run in the sixth when Kayli Kvistad recorded her fourth and final RBI of the day on a sacrifice fly.
Delanie Gourley (8-0) started and threw the first 5.1 innings and recorded a career high 13 strikeouts while giving up one run and not walking a batter. Freshman Kelly Barnhill relieved the junior and earned the first save of her career when she struck out all five Rattlers she face.
Florida finishes its eight-game homestand on Wednesday with a doubleheader against South Dakota beginning at 4 p.m.