Special to The Sun
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The No. 4 Florida softball team downed No. 15 Alabama, 6-1, to open the series Saturday.
Pitcher Kelly Barnhill (16-1) picked up the win by limiting the Crimson Tide to just one run on three hits.
The Gators (33-5, 8-2 SEC) utilized a pair of walks and a single to load the bases in the top of the first inning. Freshman Hannah Adams drove in one with a single and Aleshia Ocasio another on a fielder’s choice.
Alabama (24-10, 5-5 SEC) struck back in the second after reaching base via a hit by pitch and a walk. A throwing error on a tapper back to the circle allowed Reagan Dykes to score and close down the lead to 2-1.
Florida replicated the scoring formula from the first inning in the fifth. Lorenz led off the inning with a single and back-to-back walks loaded the bases for freshman Jordan Matthews, who ripped an RBI single to score Lorenz. Ocasio then registered her second RBI of the game on a sacrifice fly for a 4-1 lead.
“I thought our players did a really good job of playing with a lot of energy and excitement,” said UF’s Tim Walton, who notched his 699th win as the head coach of the Gators. “Being able to score in the first inning obviously makes it a little easier to go out and compete the rest of the game, but overall I thought we came in with a pretty good game plan. We pitched well, played good defense and found a way to get the hits when we needed to.”
The teams will play Game 2 of the series at 3 p.m. Sunday on ESPN2.
Women’s tennis: At Columbia, S.C., No. 12 Florida took a step closer to winning the SEC regular-season title with the 4-2 win over No. 5 South Carolina. The Gators are now 10-1 in the league and 15-6 overall, while the Gamecocks dropped to 11-1, 18-4. The Gators moved into a tie with the Gamecocks and Vanderbilt atop the league standings with two matches remaining.
Florida clinched the win with singles wins at No. 1 (Anna Danilina), No. 2 (Josie Kuhlman), No. 3 (McCartney Kessler) and No. 6 (Katie Kubicz).
“I really liked how measured we were on offense and didn’t try to over hit when the opportunity presented itself,” UF coach Roland Thornqvist said. “That was true on many courts. At the same time, we were willing to take the opportunity to be offensive, rather than fall in that hesitant trap that sometimes can happen when you get that same high over and over.”
Men’s tennis: At College Stadion, Texas, on Friday, ninth-ranked Florida (13-8, 7-3 SEC) dropped its second consecutive match, this one 6-1 to No. 5 Texas A&M (16-5, 8-1). Florida will complete its regular-season road matches starting at 1 p.m. Sunday at LSU.