UF edges Ole Miss

In this file photo, Kelly Barnhill pitches against Alabama. Barnhill allowed one hit and two walks with six strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings pitched to beat Ole Miss.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer/File
Published: Thursday, May 12, 2016 at 11:13 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, May 12, 2016 at 11:13 p.m.

STARKVILLE, Miss. — Tim Walton shook up his defense and the top-ranked Florida Gators got just enough offense Thursday night to advance in the SEC Softball Tournament.

The top-seeded, SEC champion Gators got a crucial play on defense in the top of the fifth inning and an opportunistic run in the bottom of the inning to take a 1-0 win over ninth-seeded Ole Miss in a game that was interrupted by a long rain delay.

Walton, coach of top-seeded Florida, moved some players around on defense before the fifth inning started. Kelsey Stewart shifted from second base to shortstop and Taylor Schwarz came off the bench to play at first. The two teamed up for a double play that snuffed out Ole Miss' best scoring opportunity.

Ole Miss got a leadoff single from Kylan Becker to start the top of the fifth. She moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt and a walk gave the Rebels runners on the corners with one out.

Grayce Majam lined out to Stewart, who threw to Schwarz at first to catch the runner off the base for the double play.

"That's our defense," Walton said. "That's the defense we've been running all year long."

In the bottom of the fifth, Stewart doubled to left-center and advanced to third on an error in the field. Two walks loaded the bases with no outs, but Florida was only able to scratch out the lone run it needed.

After a strikeout, Stewart came home on a passed ball, sliding just under the catcher's tag attempt. A strikeout and a pop-up left the other runners stranded.

Florida had four hits and drew six walks, but left nine runners on base.

Kelly Barnhill (16-0) gave up just one hit with two walks and six strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings for the win. Alesha Ocasio threw 2 2/3 innings of no-hit ball for her seventh save.

Madi Osias (21-8) was the hard-luck loser for Ole Miss (39-20).

Florida (53-4) will play in Friday's semifinal against either Alabama or Auburn. That quarterfinal game was postponed until Friday due to the weather.

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