Special to Gatorsports.com
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — No. 4 Florida managed only two hits Monday against No. 15 Alabama and freshman pinch-hitter Danielle Romanello made the most out of them in the Gators’ 3-2 win.
Freshman Kaylee Tow gave Alabama (25-11, 6-6 SEC) a 2-0 lead in the third inning with a two-run home run.
Not to be outdone, Romanello drilled a two-run double in the top of the fourth inning following three walks to tie the game at 2-all.
“She has really done a great job all year long,” said Tim Walton, now 700-143 in 13 seasons as the head coach of the Gators. “To be able to come off the bench and get a pinch hit in any situation is so tough and for her to do it regularly is just really impressive. For her to do it tonight, being down two – I was extremely happy for a kid who works really hard.”
Romanello, a St. Petersburg native who stayed in the game as the designated player, then put the Gators (34-6, 9-3) ahead 3-2 with her first home run in the sixth.
“Coach (Tim) Walton believes in me and I know when it’s my time to relax and be aggressive,” Romanello said of her plate approach against Tide standout pitcher Alexis Osorio (9-5).
Gators ace Kelly Barnhill struggled a bit, giving up four hits, the two earned runs, walked five and struck out four but was helped by strong fielding behind her to improve to 17-1.
Florida won the SEC series 2-1 to move back into first place in the SEC standings.
Over his 16 seasons as a head coach, Walton has a .799 career winning percentage, the highest mark among active NCAA Division I coaches.
“It obviously is a lot of wins in a Gator uniform, so I am very proud of not only this team, but all of our coaches and all of our former players,” Walton said. “I am proud of the way we compete and the condition of this program. The legacy that we have built shows that it truly is great to be a Florida Gator.”
Florida’s next game is scheduled for Wednesday at Florida State with a 7 p.m. start on ESPN2.