GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Junior Delanie Gourley's second-career no hitter and a combined three home run performance from Kirsti Merritt and Kayli Kvistad helped the No. 1 Florida softball team defeat South Dakota 9-0 in games one (six innings) and two (five innings) of Wednesday's doubleheader at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.
The hitting combination of Merritt and Kvistad powered UF past USD in the first game as they duo went 3 for 5 with three home runs, eight RBI and four runs scored. In the nightcap, Gourley stole the show when she tossed the second no hitter of her career and Florida's season.
Gourley recorded her first-career no-no during her freshman season on May 16, 2014 against Florida A&M. The Lakeside, Calif. native is now the fifth pitcher in Florida history to accomplish this feat twice. She joins Hannah Rogers, Stacey Nelson, Renise Landry and Beth Dieter.
This was the 17th no hitter in Florida history and the first since her teammate Aleshia Ocasio tossed UF's first no hitter earlier this season against Jacksonville on Feb. 17.
Florida's 24-0 record is tied for the second-best start to a season in school history. UF began the 2011 season 24-0 and the 2015 season 28-0.
With a pair of shutouts and rule-rule victories, Florida now has 14 shutouts and 13 mercy-rule wins in 2016.
Game 1 Recap
Florida freshman Kelly Barnhill (8-0) tossed five shutout innings of one-hit softball against South Dakota in game one. The freshman recorded seven strikeouts and walked one batter.
She allowed only three base runners and only one of them advanced into scoring position.
The rookie was relieved by sophomore Aleshia Ocasio in the sixth, who threw a scoreless inning and notched a pair of strikeouts.
Offensively, Florida scored at least one run in every inning, except the third, before Kayli Kvistad recorded a walk-off three-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning to give UF its run-rule victory, 9-0.
The Gators jumped on the Coyotes in the first when Kirsti Merritt recorded the first of her five RBI in the game with a sac fly to right field. The fly ball scored Kelsey Stewart who reached on walk and found her way to third after a stolen base and passed ball.
In the second, Justine McLean singled to left and Merritt followed with the first of her two homers to left field. The long ball extended Florida's lead to 3-0.
History repeated itself in the fourth when McLean singled to left and Merritt recorded her second home run of the game.
Three-straight singles in the fifth scored Florida's other run of the contest when McLean notched her career-high tying third hit of the game with an RBI single up the middle.
Game 2 Recap
With a hit by pitch in the top of the second being the only USD base runner, junior Delanie Gourley (9-0) tossed the second no hitter of her career and Florida's season.
UF did all its damage in the first inning when the Gators totaled nine runs (its highest output in an individual inning this season) on four hits, four walks and three hit by pitches.
Kelsey Stewart led off the inning with her second triple of the season. After Kirsti Merritt followed with a hit by pitch and stole second, rookie Amanda Lorenz recorded an infield single to score Stewart.
Sophomore Janell Wheaton than walked to load the bases and Kayli Kvistad plated two runs on a single up the middle.
Florida added six more runs in the inning before it was all said and done, while sending a total of 15 hitters to the plate.
UF had three base runners the remainder of the game and did not record a hit in its final three offensive innings.
News & Notes
- Florida's 24-0 record ties for the second-best start to a season in school history. UF began the 2011 season 24-0 and the 2015 season 28-0.
- UF has now outscored its opponents this season, 161-13.
- A season ago, UF had a plus-167 run differential (193-26) through 24 games.
- The Gators have made just nine errors this season and currently sport one of the best fielding percentages (.984) and earned run averages in the nation (0.58). For comparison, Florida had committed 17 errors in its first 24 contests and had a fielding percentage of .971. 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 197-28, which currently ranks ninth among four-year class records in program history.
- Sitting eighth on this list UF's 2008 graduating class that went 204-75 throughout its four seasons.
- Taylore Fuller, Kirsti Merritt, Aubree Munro, Taylor Schwarz and Kelsey Stewart are trying to catch UF's 2011 class which boasted a 238-33 mark during their four years.
- Tim Walton is now just one win away from his 700th win.
- Florida's head coach currently ranks 13th in softball history in winning percentage (.791) and fourth amongst active coaches. In addition, Walton ranks 39th in wins in NCAA history and will vie to become the 39th coach in collegiate history to win at least 700 games in his career.
- Florida improved to 4-0 against opponents it's facing for the first time in program history this season.
- The Gators have won those four contests by a combined score of 36-3.
- Hitting Streaks:
- Nicole DeWitt - The sophomore snapped a career long six game hitting streak in game two of the doubleheader.
- Kayli Kvistad - four games (one shy of her career long)
- UF did not allow a stolen base in either game on Wednesday, remaining the only team in the SEC who has yet to allow more than one stolen base in 2016.
- Delanie Gourley threw the second no hitter of her career and Florida's season.
- Gourley recorded her first-career no-no during her freshman season on May 16, 2014 against Florida A&M. The Lakeside, Calif. native is now the fifth pitcher in Florida history to accomplish this feat twice. She joins Hannah Rogers, Stacey Nelson, Renise Landry and Beth Dieter.
- This was the 17th no hitter in Florida history and the first since her teammate Aleshia Ocasio tossed UF's first no hitter earlier this season against Jacksonville on Feb. 17.
- Kelly Barnhill has now allowed just one extra base hit in 45.0 innings pitched this season.
- Florida has allowed just one home run in 2016, while the UF pitching staff had allowed six at this point last season.
- Kirsti Merritt hit her 29th and 30th home runs of her career in game one on Wednesday. It was the fifth multi-homer game of her career and first since Feb. 8, 2015 against Jacksonville.
- Merritt and Janell Wheaton have the only multi-homer games this season for Florida.
- Kelsey Stewart hit her second triple of her season and 29th of her career in the nightcap on Wednesday.
- The senior is now nine shy of Keri McCallum's (Mississippi State) SEC record.
- Justine McLean recorded her fifth-career three hit game on Wednesday as the junior went 3 for 3 with one RBI and two runs scored against South Dakota in game one.
Head Coach Tim Walton:
On today's doubleheader...
"I think it's good for us to get out and play a couple of games. It was a little bit of a different line-up today, as we were just trying some things out to see what kind of looks we get. All in all, it was nice to get out and compete and continue to play in the middle of the week."
On Kristi Merritt's...
"She came into the game with one extra base hit on the season. With the blast two home runs, I think it's going to do a lot for her confidence to know that she still has the power that she is capable of. It's just a matter of her being able to connect and leverage the ball a little bit. I thought she did a good job."
On Delanie Gourley...
"It was fun to watch her. We're sitting in the dugout and thinking about how we've been close with perfect games this whole season and we've had one no hitter already, and a bunch of one hitters. Overall, watching Delanie (Gourley) get that last out was pretty cool to see and she's been sharp all year. She had a really good fall that's led into the spring."
LHP Delanie Gourley:
On her no hitter...
"It's always exciting to reach and accomplishment like that. I thought I threw ok, but even on some of my best days I think I can do even better. Overall, I'm super excited and it was fun to see how excited the rest of my team was for me."
Wednesday's doubleheader will mark the first contests between South Dakota and Florida.
The SEC Network swings into its 50+ game-schedule this spring exclusively airing Softball games this weekend (March 12-14). The network will feature eight games from four series for the start of conference play over Saturday, Sunday and Monday. The weekend's games are highlighted with a matchup of the 2015 NCAA National Champions, Florida, facing the 2015 SEC Tournament Champions, Auburn, in a three-game series.
Tiffany Greene (play-by-play), former Texas A&M All-American Amanda Scarborough (analysis) and Laura Rutledge (sideline) on the call.