[Updated, 11:11 a.m., 5-21-18] It was hardly a secret that senior Aleshia Ocasio was dealing Sunday night. Amanda Lorenz could see it all the way from left field.
“Phenomenal. Nasty,” Lorenz said. “When you can see the ball moving like that from left field, you know something’s going really good. I was really fired up.”
Ocasio threw her first regional no-hitter and Florida’s first seven-inning no-hitter in a regional, as the Gators beat Ohio State 4-0 to advance to the Super Regional.
It was the first time Florida (53-8) threw two no-hitters in a regional as well as Ocasio and Kelly Barnhill combined for one Friday.
“If you asked me to rank her wins, I’d have to rank the win against Michigan in the College World Series as a freshman at the top,” said Florida coach Tim Walton. “But that was the best stuff I’ve seen from her.”
Ocasio (21-6) struck out a season-high 12 batters and also had a pair of RBI on a ground out and a sacrifice fly.
“It feels really good to contribute on both sides of the plate,” she said. “I have to give credit to my defense, though.”
That defense made several sparkling plays on grounders, two of which deflected off Ocasio’s glove. The only thing really close to a hit was a shot by Niki Carver to left that was out by a couple of feet foul.
“I felt really good with all my pitches,” she said. “Obviously, my offspeed was working on all planes. I had a good bullpen and that’s where it starts.”
The only mistakes Ocasio made were three walks — two of them on eight pitches in the seventh — and forgetting her wristband when she took the mound.
Then again, she had to wait seven hours to get there.
The game was supposed to be played at noon, but a soft rain delayed the start until 7 p.m. The Gator players killed time in the clubhouse playing a game called “Signs”, eating and listening to music.
“You have to give them credit,” Walton said. “You get up at 7 in the morning, start stretching and it starts raining and you have to call it off and sit around waiting for someone to make a decision. You look at the map of Florida and it’s all green. They did a great job.”
Florida managed only two hits in the game, but they were back-to-back. Ohio State (36-16) pitcher Shelby McCombs (17-8) actually had a no-hitter of her own working into the sixth, but trailed 2-0.
Florida scored in the first when Hannah Adams walked with the bases loaded. Ocasio drove in another run in the fifth with a fielder’s choice.
McCombs walked 11 and hit four batters. For the regional, McCombs threw 438 pitches and walked 29 batters.
“Without the walks, obviously this game is more competitive,” said Ohio State coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly.
In the sixth, Jaimie Hoover led off with a triple to right, her fourth hit of the regional, and scored on Lorenz’s double. Ocasio later knocked in the final run of the game on a fly ball.
So all that was left in the bottom of the inning was to see if LeLe could complete the no-no.
“It’s hard for a pitcher to say they aren’t thinking about it,” she said. “Everybody thinks about it. But I was just trying to throw my best pitch on every pitch.”
Florida will face Texas A&M beginning at 7 p.m. Thursday, the Gators’ third straight Super Regional against an SEC opponent.
“It’s a win and we’re excited,” Lorenz said. “We’ve gotta be better for next weekend. We’re going to enjoy the win and focus on next weekend.”
What: NCAA Super Regional, best-of-three series
Who: Florida (53-8) vs. Texas A&M (43-16)
When: 7 p.m. Thursday, 7 p.m. Friday and if necessary — 5 p.m. Saturday
Where: Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium