No. 1 Gator Softball Advances in NCAA Regional

No. 1 ranked Gator softball shutout the Alabama State Hornets 11-0 in Game 1 of the NCAA Gainesville Regional Championships on Friday.
After a slow start in the first two innings of the game, starting pitcher Aleshia Ocasio kicked off the third inning strong, only allowing one hit.

In the bottom of the third, senior Taylore Fuller led off what would be a nine-run inning. Following Fuller, there was a four-pitch walk followed by back-to-back singles from senior Kelsey Stewart and freshman Amanda Lorenz—scoring Florida’s first run, but it did not stop there. With the bases loaded Kirsti Merritt was hit with by a pitch bringing in the Gators second run.

Sophomore Nicole DeWitt had a huge hit bringing in three Gators to up the score to 5-0. Stewart ended Florida’s scoring in the third with back- to-back singles and Stewart said it was the first time this season she was able to connect with the ball twice in one inning.

Coach Tim Walton said if  Stewart continues to play this way you are going to see the team dynamic change.

After the third inning, Coach Walton put in Kelly Barnhill to close out the game, who earlier in the season broke the record for most strikeouts in Gator history. With Barnhill in, the Hornets were not able to connect with the ball the rest of the game giving the Gators their 29th shutout and 20th mercy rule of the season.
Pitchers Aleshia Ocasio and Kelly Barnhill combined for a one-hit game.
Though the players are the ones out on the field winning the game, Coach Walton appreciates the fans support and says he hopes that the girls can feed off of such great intensity.

The Gators now (54-5) on the season will take on the University of Central Florida Knights in Game 2 of the Gainesville Regionals on Saturday at noon. The Gators will start on the offensive side on Saturday when they take on the Knights. This is the second time this year that the Gators and the Knights have matched up, with the Gators winning 3-1 the first time.

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