Roundup: No. 5 Florida softball team handles ranked foes

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File photo of Kelly Barnhill pitching in a softball game for the University of Florida.

TAMPA – No. 5 Florida dispatched No. 19 Michigan and No. 7 Arizona to stay undefeated Saturday at the USF Opening Weekend Invitational.

Senior hurler Kelly Barnhill (2-0) picked up the complete-game win over the Wolverines (1-2) and secured her fourth career save, first of the season, when she stifled the Wildcats (2-1) rally in the final inning of game two.

The Gators (3-0) scored in a variety ways throughout the day, which gave plenty of support for Barnhill, sophomore Natalie Lugo (1-0) and freshman Danni Farley in the circle. Lugo entered with one out in the third inning of the Arizona game and provided 3.2 innings of quality work to pick up her first victory of the year.

Offensively, the wealth was spread pretty evenly across the lineup with senior Amanda Lorenz and Kendyl Lindaman leading the way going 3-for-7 at the plate. However, a pair of home runs from junior Jordan Roberts and sophomore Danielle Romanello proved to be the difference in the win against Arizona.

The Gators return to action Sunday to take on N.C. State at 1:30 p.m. and host USF at 4:15 p.m. This is the sixth consecutive season that UF has opened its year at a tournament held by USF; over that span the Gators hold a 26-0 record.

Florida head coach Tim Walton improved to 12-2 overall against Michigan’s Carol Hutchins and 5-0 against Arizona’s Mike Candrea after Saturday’s sweep. Walton improved to 848-213 as a head coach and leads all active NCAA DI coaches with a .799 win percentage.

Hutchins (1,572-506-1) and Candrea (1,565-405-2) are both legends in the sport and have combined for over 3,137 victories with win percentages of (.756) and (.793), respectively.

Lacrosse: At Boulder, Colo., No. 6 Florida started the season with a 16-9 win over No. 17 Colorado.

Florida had a balanced attack, getting four goals apiece out of veterans Lindsey Ronbeck, Shannon Kavanagh and Grace Haus. Preseason AAC Goalkeeper of the Year Haley Hicklen posted nine saves, while Cara Trombetta led the defensive front with three caused turnovers. Both Kavanagh and Sabrina Cristodero controlled the draw for the Gators winning six and four, respectively.

“We got off to a quick start at both ends of the field and that was in part to our draw performance,” UF coach Amanda O’Leary said. “Shannon did a great job allowing us to get possession on the draw — Taryn VanThof has been working hard with our draw takers and it showed today.

“We also got great production from our attacking unit — we had some new players out there and it was exciting to see everyone come together.”

The Gators got out to an early 7-0 lead in the first half with goals by Lindsey Ronbeck (3), Alix Lopez, Grace Haus (2), Sydney Pirreca.

Florida is back in action Thursday against No. 2 Maryland at Donald R. Dizney Stadium, with opening draw set for 7 p.m.

Indoor Track and Field: At Fayetteville, Ark., Florida’s 4×400-relay teams answered a charge from their head coach, as both squads closed the Tyson Invitational with two of the nation’s fastest times.

The men’s team of sophomore Benjamin Lobo Vedel, junior Grant Holloway, sophomore Cory Poole and sophomore Chantz Sawyers ran by themselves nearly the entire race, eventually clocking 3:03.17 in a runaway victory. The quartet’s time ranks third nationally, third on the program’s All-Time Top 10 list, and is the 14th-fastest time in collegiate history.

On the women’s side, sophomore Taylor Manson, freshman Doneisha Anderson, sophomore Nikki Stephens, and senior Sharrika Barnett posted the nation’s fifth-fastest time, crossing in 3:31.64. The time also makes them the No. 8-ranked team on the school’s All-Time Top 10.

Senior Yanis David, the two-time NCAA Indoor Championships silver medalist, opened her triple jump season with the nation’s No. 4-ranked mark for the win. David also remains tied for the NCAA leader, and she entered the season as the leading returner in both horizontal jumps.

Next up for the Gators is indoor championship season, starting with SEC Indoor Championships in two weeks.