COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Florida was crowned back-to-back Southeastern Conference Tournament Champions after a 2-1 victory over Alabama Saturday night at Davis Diamond.
The Gators (44-15) picked up another superb outing in the circle from senior right-handed pitcher Kelly Barnhill (30-11). Barnhill limited the Crimson Tide (52-7) to just a pair of hits and a run in what was the 72nd complete-game of her career.
The road to UF's fifth overall SEC Tournament title wasn't easy, as the Orange & Blue fell behind 1-0 in the bottom of the fourth inning. However, Alabama's lead didn't last long as the team rallied for its sixth come-from-behind victory of the season with a pair of runs in the top of the sixth inning.
With two outs and no one on base, the Gators opted to bring in freshman pinch-hitter Cheyenne Lindsey. Lindsey, a left-handed batter, offered at the first pitch from Alabama reliever Montana Fouts (15-4) and sent a high chopper over the head of third baseman Maddie Morgan and down the line for a double.
Sophomore Jordan Matthews drew a pinch-hit walk that put another runner on and turned the lineup over for senior Amanda Lorenz's heroic at-bat. With a full-count at the plate, Lorenz reached out for the seventh pitch hurled from Fouts and drove it down the left field line to score the two deciding runs.
All that mattered from that point forward was for Barnhill and the Gators to find six outs. Alabama managed to put a pair of runners on in the bottom of the sixth, but Barnhill denied the rally and capped the inning with her fifth strikeout of the game.
In the seventh, the Crimson Tide threatened once more with another runner, but yet again Florida and Barnhill worked out of the jam and concluded the championship run with a strikeout.
The Gators will now wait for the 2019 NCAA Division I softball selection show to find out their postseason draw. This year's selection show is set to air Sunday, May 12, at 9 p.m. (ET) on ESPN2.
Barnhill wrapped up her 2019 SEC Tournament Campaign with a 3-0 record, a 0.33 ERA, .075 opponent batting average, 21 innings pitched, five hits, one run and 24 strikeouts. The Marietta, Ga. native earned SEC Tournament Most Valuable Player for her performances.
Auburn - Morgan Podany & Ashlee Swindle
Kentucky - Autumn Humes & Abbey Cheek
Alabama - Montana Fouts, KB Sides & Skylar Wallace
Florida - Hannah Adams, MVP Kelly Barnhill, Amanda Lorenz & Sophia Reynoso