Janell Wheaton

Catcher Janell Wheaton started a Gators rally with the team's first hit of the game in the fifth inning. 

Alligator File Photo

Florida put on a batting exposition on Sunday, defeating UAB 6-0 and South Florida 14-3 at the USF Softball Complex in Tampa to improve its record to 5-0.

Outfielder Jordan Matthews led the Gators with six RBIs on the day alongside a four-RBI performance by pitcher Aleshia Ocasio and a pair of three-RBI days by outfielders Amanda Lorenz and Jaimie Hoover.

“I think we did a good job spraying the ball around the whole field,” UF coach Tim Walton said.

However, UF’s offense got off to a quiet start against UAB (1-4).

Blazers pitcher Emily Kachel kept the Gators off the bases, allowing no hits and only one walk through the first four innings.

Left-handed pitcher Katie Chronister came out firing as well, striking out the side in the first inning and causing three ground balls to quickly get out of the second. She saw some trouble in the fourth inning — giving up three hits — but UF’s defense stood firm behind Chronister. Catcher Janell Wheaton threw out UAB’s lead runner at third base to prevent loading the bases with only one out.

Wheaton also found Florida’s first hit of the game. She knocked a double over the head of center fielder Destini England to lead off the fifth inning, starting a UF rally.

Designated player Jordan Roberts skied an infield pop up on the next at-bat, but reached on an error as the ball popped out of the glove of the fielding Kachel.

Kachel hit the next batter — shortstop Sophia Reynoso — to load the bases for Matthews.

The freshman then smacked the ball into left field, taking second on a UAB throw to home and driving in the first two runs for Florida in an eventual six-run inning.

Usual starting pitcher Kelly Barnhill closed out the game for the Gators, throwing two hitless innings in relief and striking out three batters in the process.

“(We) gave her some time early before the first game today to work on some things,” Walton said about Barnhill after the contest. “They did some video work, and (she was) a lot better.”

Ocasio started for Florida in its second match of the day against USF.

After a quick first inning, the senior saw Bulls’ third baseman Samantha Worrell crush a pitch over the left field wall to lead off the second.

It was the first run given up by UF in 2018. However, the Gators came back with a rousing response in the top of the third.

A leadoff single by second baseman Hannah Adams sparked an eight-run inning that featured 13 plate appearances, as well as RBIs from Lorenz, Ocasio, Matthews and Nicole DeWitt and two-RBI base knocks from Reynoso and Hoover.

The Bulls (4-1) began to inch their way back with an RBI single from Worrell in the bottom of the third and a solo home run by Amber Atkinson in the fourth to make it 8-3.

But Florida answered again with another backbreaking inning in the top of the fifth in which it scored six runs.

The frame began with a Hoover solo home run to left to make it 9-3.

Later in the inning with the bases loaded, Ocasio fizzed a single up the middle to score two runs and put the game in run-rule territory. Then, Matthews belted a deep three-run homer over the right-field wall to clear the bases and extend the lead to 11.

“Jordan Matthews is pretty good,” Walton said. “That’s all you need to say.”

Follow Mark Stine on Twitter @mstinejr and contact him at [email protected].

Mark Stine is a women's soccer writer for the Independent Florida Alligator. He's a junior at UF and has written men's tennis and cross country in the past.