As they’ve done throughout the season, Florida’s bats found the base early and often in powering the No. 6-ranked Gators over a highly ranked SEC foe.
The Florida softball team completed a dominant sweep of the No. 8 Aggies at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium, claiming a 7-3 win Monday behind the arm of Kelly Barnhill and a three-RBI performance from freshman Jordan Matthews.
“We came out strong,” Matthews said. “We came out hitting, and I thought we all did an amazing job.”
Florida’s first three runs all came on walks, and the Aggies attempted to slow the bleeding by once again making a pitching change in the first inning. UF’s lone hit, an RBI bunt single from shortstop Sophia Reynoso, capped the first-inning scoring at four runs.
“It was a team effort tonight,” UF coach Tim Walton said. “Obviously the difference was our patience early in the game.”
The Aggies came across the plate in the top of the fourth, the first run Barnhill allowed in the series, and Florida (27-3, 7-2) was in danger of losing the momentum. With the bases loaded in the bottom half of the inning, Matthews’ two-run RBI single kept Florida’s lead intact and seemingly quelled any potential comeback effort by Texas A&M.
Not to be outdone, the Aggies (29-7, 3-3) struck back with a two-run RBI single of their own in the fifth inning en route to a six-hit performance on the night. After Florida added another run in the sixth inning when Janell Wheaton was hit by a pitch, scoring Alex Voss in the process, Aleshia Ocasio replaced Barnhill on the mound in the seventh inning to secure the win.
“We came out really strong this weekend. We scored lots of runs early, and when we do that it’s always going to be a great game,” Barnhill said. “It just makes my job easier.”
UF scored in the first inning in each game of the series. Florida has registered a first-inning run in 22 of 30 games this season, and the Gators have lost just once when they score in the first inning.
Florida returns to Pressly Stadium for a doubleheader Wednesday against Florida International University, with the first game set to begin at 4 p.m.
“Overall I thought the sweep, a top-10 team, we had a really good week,” Walton said. “I think everybody we play from here on out is a top-10 team, so it’s always going to be tough. But I think our team really responded to this week’s challenge.”