GAINESVILLE, Fla. - In front of a Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium record crowd of 2,497 people, the University of Florida softball team shutout Georgia 5-0 Saturday, April 8. It's the first time the Gators have shutout the Bulldogs since April 28, 2013 in Gainesville.
The tone was set from start with starting pitcher Kelly Barnhill (14-0) and the Florida defense working out of a jam where Georgia put their first two batters on with no outs. Barnhill dealt back-to-back strikeouts and catcher Janell Wheaton gunned down
The Gators (35-2, 11-1 SEC) didn't waste time and opened up the scoring in the initial frame of the contest against the Bulldogs (27-11, 2-8 SEC). Junior Aleshia Ocasio drew a bases loaded walk with two outs to plate sophomore Amanda Lorenz.
Lorenz started the inning with a single through the left side of the infield, which Nicole DeWitt followed up with a line drive single to third base. After back-to-back strikeouts dealt by Georgia starter Brittany Gray, freshman Jaimie Hoover worked a full-count walk to load the bases for Ocasio's crucial at-bat.
Ocasio was the catalyst once again in the Gators big fourth inning at the plate. She ripped her second triple of the season to leadoff the frame and was brought home on a tapper back to the circle by Justine McLean. McLean's 13th stolen base of the season set the table for Lorenz to smack a single to center field.
A DeWitt double to the wall in right field and a walk from the NCAA's leader Kayli Kvistad provided the opportunity for the Gators to score more. Jordan Roberts sent a ground ball to Alyssa DiCarlo at third base, which she booted and allowed DeWitt and Lorenz to race home and put Florida ahead 5-0.
Georgia attempted to mount a comeback in the seventh inning with a pair of two out singles but Barnhill shut the door as she forced Sydni Emanuel to pop up foul to Sophia Reynoso behind third base.
The Gators and Bulldogs will square off in the second game of the series Sunday, April 9, at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast on the SEC Network.
Coaches Corner On the support received from a record Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium crowd... "I was very happy to see the number of people we had come out today. Some people - I'm looking at one to my left right now - are here for the first time in their life and they're watching their kids play and watching their favorite team play. So, I'm just thankful for them but I'm thinking that we need an expansion for this stadium. We have a lot of people that want to sit down and watch this team and that says a lot about our student-athletes. They have done a great job of really establishing this brand, really fun to watch." - Tim Walton
From the Players On her performance at the plate and the game... "You know, with the hits I was just getting pitches, seeing the ball a little bit. She was doing a great job, I just got on a couple pitches and that's what happens. I think our team did a really good job today. So I mean you always want to jump on a team early, and we happened to get the first run and the momentum went our way." - Nicole DeWitt On setting the tone for the series... "I just feel like as a defense and as a pitcher that we just kind of went at them. We didn't let them get any extra bases. Janell (Wheaton) was phenomenal with throwing people out. It was amazing. I had to duck really quick to get out of the way of some of those balls, and we just kind of went at batters and stay ahead of the counts and played Florida softball." - Kelly Barnhill