OKLAHOMA CITY -- The University of Florida softball team defeated Texas A&M, 8-0 (5 innings), on Thursday in the first game of the Women's College World Series. Florida (56-8) used two runs in the first, two in the second, one in the third and three in the fourth to defeat the ninth-seeded Aggies (47-12) in front of a large crowd at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium.
Sophomore Kelly Barnhill found herself in some immediate trouble on Thursday as a walk and an infield single put runners at the corners with two outs in the top of first.
Unfazed, Barnhill struck out Ashley Walters to end the threat.
Florida carried that momentum in the bottom half of the inning as the Gators scored two runs on three hits.
Sophomore Kayli Kvistad started the rally with a one-out double to left-center field. Following a Nicole DeWitt walk and an Aleshia Ocasio single to right, junior Janell Wheaton delivered a two-run single to center.
Following her classmates' lead, Nicole DeWitt extended Florida's lead to 4-0 on a bases-loaded single to centerfield in the bottom of the second. The Gators did all their damage in this inning with two outs, as a Justine McLean single and a pair of walks by Amanda Lorenz and Kayli Kvistad set the table for Florida's catcher.
UF tacked on its fifth run of the game in the third inning using some small ball.
Janell Wheaton led off with a walk. After head coach Tim Walton inserted rookie Katie Chronister to pinch run, Alex Voss sacrificed her over to second and shortstop Sophia Reynoso knocked in Chronister via a single to left and a miscue by the Texas A&M outfielder.
The Gators recorded their final three tallies in the fourth as Aleshia Ocasio blasted a three-run home run to right-center field. An Amanda Lorenz single and Nicole DeWitt walk set the table for Ocasio.
In the circle for the Gators, Barnhill (25-3) struck out five Aggies and allowed just the three hits. Senior Delanie Gourley replaced Barnhill in the top of the fifth and worked a scoreless frame to secure the win for UF.
UP NEXT: The Gators (56-8) advanced into the winner's bracket where they'll face the winner of Thursday's other early session game, either No. 5-seed UCLA (47-13) or No. 13 seed LSU (47-20).