Gators salvage series finale behind Lorenz

Florida's Amanda Lorenz. [AP Photo/Gary McCullough/File)

Amanda Lorenz sensed something a little different about her Gator softball team Sunday.

“Much better vibes,” said the senior. “The want-to-win was cranked up a little today.”

So was Lorenz.

The reigning SEC Player of the Year ripped a pair of line-drive homers and knocked in five runs, as No. 4 Florida avoided a sweep by No. 7 Tennessee. As a crowd of 2,015 watched at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium, the Gators got a modicum of revenge for being run-ruled on Friday night with a run-rule win of their own.

Hannah Adams delivered the final blow with a single to make it 8-0 in the sixth inning and end the game. That came after Lorenz lined her second homer of the game and eighth of the year over the centerfield fence.

Lorenz was quick to give credit to junior Jade Caraway, making her only sixth start of the year, who twice singled to turn over the lineup and bring Lorenz in the leadoff spot to the plate.

“Jade was the reason for so many runs today,” Lorenz said. “I credit both big hits to her. I probably wouldn’t have been as locked in.”

Florida’s lack of hitting outside of Lorenz and junior Kendyl Lindaman was the theme of the first two games in the series. Those two players had four of Florida’s hits compared to one for the rest of the team in the first two games.

But while Lindaman got the Gators on the board early and Lorenz homered in the fourth and sixth, the rest of the Florida lineup did their part with six hits including the two infield hits by Caraway, an N.C. State transfer.

“I told the team the key to the game really was (Caraway) and Alex Voss as well getting a hit there (in the sixth),” said Florida coach Tim Walton. “It’s been a big problem this year getting the depth of the lineup, somebody else besides those two getting on base some way and somehow.”

Florida (22-4, 1-2) also got a more typical performance from senior pitcher Kelly Barnhill, who allowed only two hits and struck out 12 in the first four innings.

On Friday, Barnhill (13-2) gave up three home runs in a 9-1 loss.

“It was really hitting the spots and moving the ball around better,” said the All-American right-hander. “Friday night, my ball was flat and my form wasn’t as good. Saturday I went to work in the bullpen. I think you could see the difference today.”

Lindaman gave Florida an early 2-0 lead when she lined a homer into the new bullpen in left field, her third of the year and 43rd of her career.

“That ball was scorched,’ Walton said. “She hit that ball hard.”

In the fourth, Caraway beat out a grounder to short before Lorenz hit her opposite field homer to make it 4-0.

“It’s a lot more fun throwing out there when you have that run support,” Barnhill said.

She allowed only four baserunners in the six innings.

“The key is always the deception of Kelly Barnhill,” Walton said. “Taking pitches, gosh, you should have swung at and swinging at pitches, gosh, that you should have taken. She didn’t have that Friday night.”

In the sixth, Voss and Caraway reached base with infield singles and Tennessee (18-4, 2-1) chose to pitch to Lorenz with a base open after a wild pitch.

“Looking back, they probably should have put her on base,” Walton said. “That probably had to do with the score more than anything.”

Lorenz hit her homer to make it 7-0 and Adams ended the game with a single to score Jaimie Hoover, who had singled and reached on an error.

“There were probably a few more balls over the plate than there were Friday night,” Walton said.

Florida next plays Wednesday at home against UCF at 6 p.m.