KISSIMMEE, Fla. - Solid pitching and defense along with timely hitting, that's the formula the No. 3-ranked University of Florida softball team used when picking up a pair of victories Friday, Feb. 24., on the first day of the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic held at ESPN's Wide World of Sports Complex.
The Gators (12-1) shut out both Syracuse (6-4) and Fordham (7-4) en route to two wins.
The pitching tandem of junior Aleshia Ocasio (2-0) and sophomore Kelly Barnhill (1) dispatched the Orange 2-0 in the first game as Ocasio scattered five hits through four innings of work and Barnhill picked up her first save with three innings of stellar work where she struck out eight of the nine batters she faced.
In second game of the day it was all senior Delanie Gourley (4-1). The left-handed hurler recorded her ninth career one-hitter and second of the season as the Gators fell Fordham 4-0 late in the afternoon with the sun setting at the ESPN WWOS complex.
Gourley fanned nine Rams in the contest and faced 22 batters while throwing only 76 pitches in the effort.
Offensively, Florida relied on timely hits in both games.
Against Syracuse in the third inning, freshman Jaimie Hoover put the Gators out in front with an RBI double to right center field that pushed sophomore Amanda Lorenz across home plate.
Lorenz opened the inning with a walk after she worked a full-count on seven pitches. Junior Kayli Kvistad moved Lorenz into scoring position via her 16th walk of the season during a 10-pitch at-bat.
Redshirt freshman Sophia Reynoso tacked on an insurance run for the Gators in the fifth inning. Jordan Roberts, a freshman, reached on a single that ricocheted of the Syracuse pitcher in the circle. Alex Voss entered from her position in the flex to run for Roberts with Reynoso stepping into the box. Reynoso capped the scoring with an RBI single up the middle to bring the score to 2-0.
In the final game of the day against Fordham, the pace was quick and feverous as both Gourley and the Rams hurler, Lauren Quense dueled for the first five innings. The first five innings flew by in under an hour as both pitchers kept the opposing offenses off balance.
The dueling ended in the sixth as the Gators broke through to score all four of its runs. The inning started with a one-out walk from junior Nicole DeWitt, which she immediately followed up with a stolen base with Kvistad at the plate.
Kvistad drove in DeWitt to break the scoreless tie on an RBI single up the middle of the Rams defense. Switzer entered the game to pinch run for Kvistad and advanced to second after a single to left field by Hoover. Ocasio moved the runners to second and third on a slow chopper to the right side of the Rams infield to set the table for Roberts.
After falling behind 1-2 in the count, Roberts belted her second home run of the season to clear the bases and put the game out of reach.
Gourley put the final touches on the game as she forced two groundouts and a popup to end the contest.
Coaches Corner On the pitching staff's performance... "I thought Aleshia Ocasio did a really nice job in the first game and then Kelly Barnhill closed it - not to allow a base runner in three innings of relief was really good. Delanie Gourley was really sharp against Fordham in our second game; not only just striking people out but she was just one batter over the minimum. So I thought they just pitched really well."
• Delanie Gourley recorded her ninth career one-hitter and second of the season in the game against Fordham (Feb. 24) o It was the fifth one-hitter produced by the Gators this season.
• Jordan Roberts hit her second-career home run in the game against Fordham (Feb. 24).
• Kvistad now has a total 16 walks on the season after recording a pair against Syracuse.
o She's also hitting a respectable .448 on the season with 13 hits in 29 at-bats.
• The Gators record their eighth shutout of the season and fourth in a row with the pair today.
o Florida has not allowed a run since the fifth inning against Maryland. (28.1 straight innings)
• Sophomore Kelly Barnhill extended her scoreless inning streak to 27.0 innings after providing three quality innings in relief against Syracuse.