Aleshia Ocasio’s final home start didn’t quite go according to plan.
The No. 5-ranked Gators, looking to clinch the SEC softball series Saturday, suffered a 3-0 loss to No. 14-ranked LSU at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.
And it came on Senior Day nonetheless, where UF honored the team’s four seniors — Kayli Kvistad, Janell Wheaton, Nicole DeWitt and Ocasio — before taking the diamond.
“The cool part about Senior Day is I’ve seen these young ladies grow up,” UF coach Tim Walton said. “It’s pretty fun to be able to see the accomplishments that they’ve made on and off the field and the impact that they’ve made to our program. They’re very proud of the way they handled themselves and, again, 211 wins. That’s a ton of wins and I think today is our 32nd loss in their career. That’s a heck of a four-year run.”
Florida (43-8, 16-4 SEC) didn’t manage a hit until the fifth inning, when Jordan Roberts delivered a single, but the Tigers already held a two-run lead thanks to a two-run home run in the top of the fifth from Michaela Schlattman.
Attempting to make a comeback and clinch the series after a 7-0 win Friday, the Gators continued making solid contact at the plate in the ensuing innings but it wouldn’t translate it into runs.
Facing LSU starter Maribeth Gorsuch, Florida managed just three hits on the afternoon on 23 plate appearances. Gorsuch exited the mound in the seventh inning after allowing a hit and walking Roberts, making way for Allie Walljasper to come in and ultimately record the save. Meanwhile, the Tigers (37-12, 10-9) had little trouble making solid contact on Ocasio’s pitches, with three of seven hits going for extra bases.
“I felt like I was throwing a pretty good mix of pitches,” Ocasio said. “You can’t win a game if you don’t have any runs.”
Schlattman added her third RBI of the afternoon in the seventh inning when her single to left field scored Shemiah Sanchez, capping the scoring for the Tigers.
A comeback effort by the Gators would end up falling just short. With the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh inning, Hannah Adams came to the plate with the winning run on the plate. But Adams hit into a fielder’s choice, sealing just the third shutout loss for the Gators this season.
“We had a chance, and I think that’s one of those things you always look at,” Walton said. “That’s a huge moment. We’ve got to move runners and score runners. That’s what we do every single day, and we weren’t able to get it done.”
Florida and LSU return to Pressly Stadium on Sunday at 12 p.m. for the rubber match and the final home game of the regular season. The Gators will wrap up the 2018 regular season with a three-game series at Missouri, with first pitch scheduled for May 4 at 8 p.m.
“It’s a Senior Week, we didn’t make that big of a deal about Senior Day. We want to still figure out how to win the week,” Walton said. “And I think that’s the goal: win this week and make sure you maintain your confidence, work ethic and focus.”