The top ranked Florida softball team lost the first game of a three game series to sixth ranked Alabama 2-1 Friday night in Gainesville.
UF falls to 33-2 overall and 8-2 in SEC play, while the Crimson Tide improve to 30-6 overall and 4-3 in SEC play. Despite the loss, a season high 2,109 fans were in attendance and the Gators are still tied with the 2008 and 2009 squads for the best record to this point in the season at 33-2.
Alabama head coach Patrick Murphy this game played out like a Florida and Alabama softball game.
The story of the game was Alabama junior pitcher Sydney Littlejohn as she earned the victory in the circle to improve to 13-2 on the season. She pitched 6.1 innings, allowing just one run to go with a pair of strikeouts. Littlejohn was replaced in the bottom of the seventh by sophomore Alexis Osorio, who came on to retire the last two hitters and pick up her fourth save of the season.
Alabama opened the scoring with a run in the top of the first as shortstop Sydney Booker hit into an RBI fielder’s choice. Murphy says his says Booker plays with a lot of passion.
The only trouble Littlejohn got into was in the bottom of the fourth inning, when she gave up a solo home run hit to right field by Kirsti Merritt, which then tied the game up at 1-1. The home run by Merritt was her fifth of the season.
In the circle to start the game for the Gators was sophomore Aleshia Ocasio. She pitched 4.1 innings on the night, until head coach Tim Walton pulled her and put junior Delanie Gourley in the game to pitch the final 2.2 innings. Ocasio had her scoreless innings streak snapped at 20 after she allowed the second inning run. The pair of pitchers combined to allow two runs on nine hits, while striking out six Alabama hitters. The nine hits that UF gave up on the night was the most they have given up this season.
Alabama reclaimed the lead for good in the top of the sixth inning, when Booker notched her second RBI of the contest. The sophomore shortstop hit a double down the left-field line to score outfielder Andrea Hawkins, who reached base on a fielder’s choice.
The Orange and Blue threatened to tie the game the in bottom of sixth and seventh innings, but they could not push across any runs. This is the first home loss for Florida since LSU beat the Gators 10-3 o March 15th of last season.
Game 2 of the series is set for Saturday at 3:30 pm and it is on ESPN 2.