Special to The Sun
The No. 2 Florida softball team blazed its way to a pair of wins Friday, beating Maryland, 7-2, and Illinois State, 10-1, on the first day of the Aquafina Invitational at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.
Jordan Roberts and Kayli Kvistad tallied the first two home runs at KSP Stadium this season in the win over the Redbirds in the final game of the day.
The Gators (12-1) wasted no time to plate their first runs of the game against Maryland (3-8). After a leadoff walk by Hannah Adams and a fielding error allowed Nicole DeWitt to reach on a bunt attempt, Amanda Lorenz belted a double off the left field wall to score the duo for the first runs.
Kvistad plated Lorenz via her second SAC fly of the season to give Florida a 3-0 lead.
Kelly Barnhill (5-0) threw her third complete-game of the season and struck out nine en route to the win.
The Gators served as the visiting team in the Aquafina Invitational’s nightcap against Illinois State (4-8).
Jordan Matthews put Florida ahead 1-0 in the top of the first inning with her RBI single that scored DeWitt.
Illinois State bounced back to tie the game 1-1 in the bottom of the second via a bases loaded walk issued by starter Katie Chronister.
Aleshia Ocasio relieved Chronister with one out in the bottom of the third after 2.1 innings pitched. The Gainesville native faced 12 batters on 47 pitches in the contest. Ocasio picked up the win with 1.2 quality innings pitched and improved to 5-1 on the season.
The long ball came into play in the fourth and fifth innings for the Gators. Roberts belted a two-run home run in the fourth to extend the lead out to 3-1 and Kvistad broke the game wide open in the fifth with her grand slam that pushed the lead out 8-1.
The Gators play Maryland at 2 p.m. and Iowa State at 4:30 p.m. today.
SEC Indoor Championships: At College Station, Texas, Florida, ranked No. 2 on the men’s side and No. 8 on the women’s side of the USTFCCCA National Team Rankings, opens postseason competition today and Sunday.
The Gators tied for third and finished eighth, respectively, on the men’s and women’s side of last year’s SEC Indoors. Florida’s men are chasing their eighth indoor conference title, while Florida’s women will pursue their ninth. The Gators last captured the men’s title in 2015—also winning the outdoor title later that year—and the women last secured the trophy in 2014.
KeAndre Bates (long jump, triple jump) and Grant Holloway (60-meter hurdles) are returning individual champions.
Women’s tennis: At Moraga, Calif., Florida returned to the court for the first time in 12 days and showed a little rust on the doubles court but regrouped for singles play and earned a 4-3 win against Saint Mary’s at the Timothy Korth Tennis Complex.
The win snapped a two-match slide for the Gators (4-4), while halting the Gaels’ four-match win streak.
Florida won the first individual match of the day with the doubles team of Anna Danilina-Victoria Emma. Saint Mary’s came back with a win on court three, setting the stage for the clincher at the No. 2 spot, as the hosts captured the tough 7-5 decision and the initial team point.
Florida came out fast and focused at the start of singles play, winning the first set on five of the six courts. Freshman McCartney Kessler got the Gators on the board with a 6-3, 6-3 win against Kareena Manji.
The Gaels kept the pressure on after taking court one and followed with another on court six for a 3-1 lead in the team scoring. Senior Josie Kuhlman began the Gator comeback with a 6-3, 7-5 win at the two spot, before freshman Victoria Emma earned a hard-fought 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 victory to even the dual match at 3-all.
That set the stage for UF senior Peggy Porter, who remained focused through the raucous crowd and produced the clincher in three sets, 6-4, 5-7, 6-2.
Florida continues its nine-match road swing at Stanford at 3 p.m. today.