When Florida fell behind 3-0 Sunday for the second straight day against LSU, nobody was louder than the player responsible for two loud homers.
Kelly Barnhill walked into the dugout after the top of the fifth inning and began pumping up her teammates.
“She hollered at the hitters, ‘Hey, pick me up!’ “ said Florida coach Tim Walton.
After Barnhill gave up two homers in the top of the inning, the Gators rallied for four runs in the bottom of the fifth, breaking a scoreless streak of 12 innings, and went on to beat LSU 5-3.
The win gave fifth-ranked Florida (44-8, 17-4) the series win and also gave the Gators a two-game lead in the SEC with three games to play. Georgia lost later in the day to Alabama 7-4.
No. 14 LSU dropped to 37-13 and 10-10 in league play despite out-homering Florida 3-0 in the series.
The two homers allowed by Barnhill (24-1) were the 13th and 14th she has allowed this season.
“It’s usually that she’s holding us up,” said senior Nicole DeWitt. “So it was nice to see it the other way around.”
DeWitt delivered the game-winning hit in the fifth, but a lot happened leading up to her at-bat.
Jordan Roberts led off the fifth with a single and Sophia Reynoso walked. LSU replaced starter Shelbi Sunseri on the mound with Saturday’s winning pitcher Maribeth Gorsuch (7-3).
Gorsuch struck out pinch-hitter Jordan Matthews, but walked freshman Hannah Adams to load the bases and bring up Amanda Lorenz.
“I felt awesome (to see Lorenz up with the bases loaded),” Walton said. “She’s been seeing the ball well the last few weeks. And then bring in one of the most clutch hitters (DeWitt) behind her.”
Lorenz launched a line drive that just missed being a Slam-anda, hitting high off the wall and all three runners scored on her triple.
“I thought it was out,” said Lorenz, who is now hitting .427 for the season. “I went up there just trying not to do too much, hit it hard and just keep passing the bat along.”
DeWitt then delivered a single to score Lorenz and give Florida a 4-3 lead.
“I knew I had to be calm at the plate,” she said. “I had been struggling this week. I needed to keep it simple.”
Florida manufactured an insurance in the sixth inning and Barnhill struck out the side in the seventh. For the week, the junior went 3-0 with 39 strikeouts.
“After Amanda’s hit I went and found Kelly and told her, ‘Hey, they picked you up now go and pick us back up,’ ” Walton said.
“We had some butterflies (this week). The senior weekend was a little bit much but the players came back and showed their resilience.”
The Gators now make a long trip to Missouri with a series in Columbia, Mo., followed by the SEC Tournament there.
They will take with them the momentum of an important series win, the Gators’ fifth straight in the league.
“This gave us a good feeling for what postseason is going to be like,” DeWitt said.