After a long day of waiting, hoping and wondering if they were going to get to play, the number one ranked Florida Gator softball team finished day one of the Lipton Invitational in the fashion most would have expected.
Originally the Gators were scheduled to play the Troy Trojans at 4 and the Indiana Hoosiers at 6:15 but Mother Nature had a different game plan in mind. The rains came early in the afternoon and it didn’t seem like it was ever going to let up. However, as the afternoon went along, the clouds opened up, the rain stopped and it was clear we would have some softball.
The Gators and Trojans engaged in the first of two closely contested battles for the number one team in the country on Friday night and it was clear the offensive production lacked from both teams. Senior Hannah Rogers took the circe for the Gators and she did not disappoint. Rogers threw all seven innings in the Gators 3-0 win allowing just four hits, no runs and she finished with eight strikeouts.
Fortunately for the Gators, Rogers did what she has done her whole career, because her offense failed to produce many runs for her. The Gator offense racked up just three runs on six hits and only scored in two of the six innings played. While Troy’s Sara Mock wasn’t dominant, she was able to throw strikes and let her defense do the work to get out of tough situations. Most importantly, the Gators left nine runners on base and although they tallied six hits, they were only spread between four players.
Game one the Gators showcased their pitching and defense, finishing with no errors. This was the first meeting between the two teams and with the game we saw on Friday night, more may come in the future.
In the second game of the night, the Gators matched up against the Indiana Hoosiers. Coming into this game the Gators held a 4-0 all-time series lead and with the Hoosiers coming in with a 1-9 record, an easy win seemed almost automatic. However, the Hoosiers had a different ending in mind. Indiana starting pitcher Lora Olson who came in with a 0-4 record threw all seven innings for the Hoosiers giving up just four hits and three runs, striking out two.
It wasn’t the fact that Olson overpowered the Gator lineup, but she pitched to spots and let her defense do its job, and that was all the Indiana coaching staff could have asked for.
Opposite Olson for the Gators was freshman Delanie Gourley who entered the game boasting a record of 4-0. Gourley just like Olson, pitched all seven innings for the Gators in their 3-1 victory allowing just four hits, one run and walking four batters. Most importantly, Gourley totaled nine strikeouts and found a way to get out of every jam she was presented with.
With two outs, runners on first and second and the Hoosiers best hitter up in the bottom of the seventh, Gourley struck her out looking to end the game and Gators head coach Tim Walton talked about his freshman’s first start in Katie Seashold Pressly stadium.
“Delanie made the right pitches when she had to, she was ahead a lot and she showed some good composure, and I thought she did a really good job.”
The Gators now find themselves 14-0 on the season with a quick turnaround into Day 2 of the Lipton Invitational. In last week’s tournament in Vegas, the Gators offense outscored their five opponents 59-6, and in their last three games since returning home, the number one team in the country has only managed to score 12 runs. With two days left in the tournament the Gators will hope to increase their offensive numbers and Walton will be looking for a lot more out of his team these last two days.
“I want to see our mindset improve, our decision making and pitch selection at the plate improve, I want to see adjustments made and when we’re ahead in the count I want us to swing like it.”
In Day 2 of the Lipton Invitational, the Gators will face the same two teams they saw on Friday night with first pitch on Saturday against Troy at noon and first pitch against Indiana coming a little later at 2:15.
For more of Coach Walton’s post-game comments click on the links below: