After Georgia claimed a series over Florida last weekend in Athens, the No. 6-ranked UF softball team didn’t waste any time getting back to its dominant ways.
Florida opened a four-run lead in the first inning and never looked back in claiming the first game of the weekend series against the No. 8-ranked Texas A&M Aggies with a 6-1 win Saturday at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.
“I thought we were sharp. We came in prepared to face their pitching, and I thought we did a good job. It really showed from the first pitch,” UF coach Tim Walton said. “That’s a good hitting team, coming in with only four losses on the year.”
The first six batters in Florida’s line-up either recorded a hit or an RBI, with Janell Wheaton’s two-run home run over the wall in left field doubled the lead after Jordan Matthews’ two-run RBI single opened the scoring. The Gators have now scored in the first inning in 20 of 28 games this season.
“I like first-inning runs, that’s for sure,” Walton said. “It definitely sets a better tone and allows for some better at-bats when you can score early like that.”
Kelly Barnhill (13-1) continued her stellar start to the season, one that’s seen her throw four complete-game no-hitters and a perfect game in addition to carrying a 0.53 ERA and holding opposing batters to just a .091 batting average. After giving up a walk in the first inning, the Aggies wouldn’t record a hit off of Barnhill until the fifth inning, but by then a positive result for Florida (25-3, 5-2 SEC) seemed inevitable.
“A pitcher has a really good advantage when you know you have that run support behind you,” Barnhill said. “Today just happened to be our day.”
The Gators put two more runs on the board in the fourth inning when Jaimie Hoover’s RBI double scored second baseman Hannah Adams, and Amanda Lorenz’s RBI single proceeded to score Hoover. Lorenz’s 2-for-3 performance at the plate kept alive her streak of reaching base in every game this season for Florida.
“I really like hitting lead-off. It’s a comfortable spot for me, so I was just excited to get things going for the team. We had a really good week of practice, a really good mid-week,” Lorenz said. “Texas A&M is a great, great team, so to get on the board early was really, really important against a potent offense like they have.”
The Aggies broke up Florida’s shutout bid in the seventh inning when Sarah Hudek connected on a home run to center field.
The Gators, who hold a 14-0 record at home this season, will look to clinch the series against the Aggies (29-5, 3-1 SEC) on Sunday, with the first pitch set for 7 p.m.
Who: No. 6 Florida vs. No. 8 Texas A&M
When: 7 p.m. Sunday
Where: Pressly Stadium
“I think we just need to keep focusing on ourselves, focus on what we’re good at and just try and get on the board early,” Lorenz said. “They’re a great team so I’m sure they’re ready for tomorrow, and they’re going to make some adjustments so we just need to be even better, too. And tomorrow after that.”