Gators run-rule Vols to advance to SEC tourney finale

    Florida infielder Sophia Reynoso (74) catches a fly ball during the semifinals of the SEC Softball Tournament at Mizzou Softball Stadium on Friday. [Hunter Dyke/Tribune]

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    COLUMBIA, Missouri — Nicole DeWitt hit back-to-back home runs Friday to power No. 4 Florida to a 10-2 win over No. 8 Tennessee in five innings and into the SEC softball tournament championship game.

    The top-seeded Gators (49-8), the SEC regular-season champions, will play third seed South Carolina (45-13), a 3-1 winner over Arkansas in Friday’s other semifinal, at 8 p.m. Saturday (ESPN2) for the tourney championship.

    Florida had only four hits against Tennessee, but took advantage of nine walks.

    “Nicole DeWitt obviously had a great day,” UF coach Tim Walton said. “We were very disciplined at the plate and had a lot of hitters doing good things.

    “Real proud of our team’s fight today.”

    DeWitt put UF up 2-0 in the bottom of the first inning after Amanda Lorenz walked with a two-run homer. Janell Wheaton hit a RBI single later in the inning to put the Gators up 3-0.

    Florida then put a four spot on the scoreboard in the second inning thanks to DeWitt’s three-run home run (13th of season) and Wheaton’s run-scoring double. It’s DeWitt’s first multi-homer game, with her career-high five RBIs tying an SEC Tournament record.

    Four seed Tennessee (45-12) cut into Florida’s lead when Ashley Morgan hit a two-run double in the third inning.

    Wheaton drove in her third run of the game with a RBI groundout in the fourth for an 8-2 Florida advantage.

    Hannah Adams belted a RBI double in the gap for a 9-2 lead in the fifth. Jordan Matthews then ended it via the run rule with a RBI single later in the frame.

    After being staked to the big lead, UF pitcher Kelly Barnhill (26-1) pretty much cruised, while UT pitchers Matty Moss (17-6) and Caylan Arnold struggled with control and were roughed up. Barnhill scattered five hits, walked two and struck out nine.

    Notes: UF is playing in its seventh SEC championship game … Barnhill’s record is the best in Division I softball …┬áSenior Kayli Kvistad walked three times in the game to become Florida’s career walks leader with 176.


    1. Great game. A tip for the writer of this recap; if you read closely you will see that the Gators had six hits in the game, not 4. Nicole DeWitt may be the most under the radar player in the SEC, as she has been terrific all season. Keep going girls and bring that 3rd NC back to Gainesville. You are the best!