Kelly Barnhill

Kelly Barnhill pitched her first perfect game – Florida's eighth in school history –against Georgia Southern. 

Alan Alvarez de Sotomayor / Alligator Staff

The sounds of about 1,600 clapping Gators fans resounded throughout Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium as Kelly Barnhill readied herself for her final throw of the day.

She took a deep breath and exhaled with a grunt as she fired the pitch from the circle.

Georgia Southern’s Hannah Farrell swung and missed, the ball finding its way into catcher Janell Wheaton’s glove.

Barnhill had just completed her first career perfect game and the eighth in program history.

“I wasn’t really thinking about that,” Barnhill said. “The rule is you never think about it while you’re doing it, you just really try to live in the moment and go pitch by pitch, and that’s what we did today.”

With the help of Barnhill’s perfect pitching against the Eagles, Florida’s softball team (16-1) swept its doubleheader on Sunday, defeating Iowa State 3-0 and Georgia Southern 8-0 on Day 3 of the Aquafina Invitational.

Barnhill shared the circle with utility player Aleshia Ocasio.

Ocasio threw 100 pitches against the Cyclones, allowing six hits and no runs, while Barnhill capped off her spotless outing with 11 strikeouts.

“(Barnhill has) been thinking a lot with her pitches and stuff,” catcher Janell Wheaton said. “But once she has her rise ball, she’s good and going. She had that today at all different levels.”

In the Gators’ matchup against Iowa State, Florida jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when left fielder Amanda Lorenz hit a double off the left field fence, allowing second baseman Hannah Adams to run home.

Sophia Reynoso then changed things up in the top of the fourth when she fielded a ball from shortstop.

Reynoso quickly scooped up the grounder, but instead of making a throw to first, she spun around and hurled it to second, retiring Iowa State baserunner Taylor Nearad.

As the game approached the end of the fifth, the home crowd got anxious as Iowa State’s Skyler Ramos rounded third base following a single to center field from Jackie Chairez.

Ramos sprinted toward home as the ball soared through the air. But as Ramos slid into the plate, Wheaton caught a laser from Alex Voss and tagged Ramos out.

“We practice this all the time, practicing all different types of angles and speeds of the runner,” Wheaton said. “It was pitched perfect.”

In the Gators' second game of the day against the Eagles, much of the action was saved for the bottom of the first and third innings, with UF scoring at least three runs apiece in both frames.

One of the game’s more memorable moments came in the third as UF’s Nicole DeWitt stepped up to the plate. With Adams on first base, DeWitt waited on a 1-2 pitch from Georgia Southern’s Kaylee Ramos.

Adams snuck away from the bag, stealing second before a throw from catcher Logan Harrell caught up with her.

Rattled by the previous play, Ramos couldn’t regain control on the mound and walked DeWitt.

Outfielder Amanda Lorenz was up next when a disheveled Ramos sent a 3-2 pitch to the batter’s box, Lorenz sent the ball flying toward right field.

The yellow sphere disappeared behind the blue tarp-covered fence, giving Lorenz her first home run of the season and putting the Gators up 8-0.

Overall, the Gators had a successful weekend at home, finishing the Aquafina Invitational with a 6-0 record, ending four of their games in mercy-rule wins and recording one no-hitter and one perfect game.

Florida will travel to Fullerton, California, early Tuesday morning in preparation for the Judi Garman Classic. UF begins the event on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. with a matchup against Loyola Marymount.

Follow Mari Faiello on Twitter @faiello_mari and contact her at [email protected].

Mari Faiello is a sports writer for the Alligator and covers the University of Florida's softball team. She has previously covered UF men's tennis, UF women's tennis and UF volleyball. She has worked at the paper since Fall 2017.