Saturday night was the first matchup of a three-game series between No. 2 Florida and No. 4 Auburn. It was a thriller in Gainesville as the Gators won on a walk-off hit by Nicole DeWitt. Florida took the game with a final score of 4-3.
Both teams entered the series in the top 10 for the lowest era so far this season, so neither team is used to giving up many runs. However, the bats were hot from the beginning on either side and the play of the defenses became the deciding factor in the game.
Despite earlier threats, the first score did not come until the bottom of the second inning. Janell Wheaton led off the inning with a single to center field and Aleshia Ocasio followed up with a double down the right field line. Then, senior Justine McLean came to the plate with runners on second and third with two outs and managed an infield single that was tipped by pitcher Kaylee Carlson, which allowed Wheaton to score.
Shortstop Haley Fagan attempted to make the play at first, but McLean beat the throw. At that point, Ocasio, who was on second, was rounding third base to score when first baseman Kendall Veach sent the ball home to make the third out. The ball beat Ocasio to the plate and catcher Carlee Wallace was there to make the play. Ocasio was originally called out at home. Florida head coach Tim Walton argued the call and after a discussion between the umpires, they called Ocasio safe. The claim was that Wallace bobbled the ball as she attempted the tag.
Senior Delanie Gourley started on the mound for Florida. In one of her toughest contests this season, she gave up four walks and hit two batters. The Auburn offense loaded the bases in the second and third innings but were unable to score. Casey McCrackin led off the fourth inning and shot a double to right center field which ended Gourley’s time in the circle. Ocasio came in to relieve her, but McCrackin was pushed to third on a ground out and Victoria Draper followed with an infield single to shortstop and a RBI. Florida led 2-1 after four innings.
Auburn continued their scoring in the fifth inning as they started off with back-to-back hits. Courtney Shea hit a double to left field that scored Fagan from first base and a throw to home allowed Shea to advance to third with no outs. Later in the inning, McCrackin hit a sacrifice bunt to push in the Tigers final run.
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It finally came down to the last chance for the Gators as they started the bottom of the seventh inning down 3-2. With two outs and a runner on second base, Sophia Reynoso hit a ground ball to Fagan at shortstop but she bobbled the ball and was unable to make a play.
That left runners on the corners and two outs for junior Nicole DeWitt. On the second pitch of the at-bat, DeWitt hit a pop fly to shallow center field and McCrackin worked her way over from second base to make the play. The ball bounced into her glove, then fell out. With two outs, the runners knew they had to run once the ball was hit and Reynoso was able to take advantage of the dropped ball.
From first base, Reynoso was aggressive out of the gate and the Gamecocks were not expecting her to be headed home so quickly. There was no play at the plate and the Gators won due to smart base running.
Ocasio earned her sixth win of the season. Kaylee Carlson, for Auburn, got her first loss of the season.
The series continues on Sunday night in Gainesville. The game will be at 7 p.m. and will be aired on ESPN2.