Florida’s softball team was back in action on Saturday, playing a doubleheader against No. 18 Michigan and unranked Georgia State. The Gators picked up respective victories of 2-0 and 11-0, pushing their record to 3-0.
The matchup with Michigan featured a pitching duel with limited offensive opportunity for either team.
The lone scoring play of the game came in the bottom of the fourth inning. Wolverine pitcher Meghan Beaubien struck out three consecutive Gators before catcher Janell Wheaton approached the plate with one out. Wheaton hit a single that went right back to Beaubien, who was unable to field it cleanly. Designated player Jordan Roberts then walked to put runners on first and second, both of whom advanced on a subsequent groundout by Aleshia Ocasio.
With two outs, shortstop Sophia Reynoso stepped into the box.
After battling back from a 1-2 count, Reynoso struck a single up the middle to score both base runners.
“You definitely don’t want to go to the snack bar… when she’s up to bat,” UF coach Tim Walton said.
Preseason All-SEC pitcher Kelly Barnhill started her first game of the year against the Wolverines, but her outing was short-lived. Barnhill allowed two hits and no walks, but Michigan’s batters kept putting the ball in play and were slowly honing in on her pitches.
Before the Wolverines (2-1) could cause Barnhill — who didn’t strike out a single batter — much trouble, Walton opted to bring in senior Aleshia Ocasio to start the third inning.
“Her stuff wasn’t Kelly stuff today,” Walton said. “I asked her a question after that second inning and she said ‘I don’t have it.’”
Ocasio picked up right where she left off against Illinois State on Friday, recording four strikeouts and allowing three hits in five innings to get her second win of the season.
The momentum of a top-25 victory carried into Florida’s second matchup against Georgia State (0-3).
A leadoff double from second baseman Hannah Adams and RBIs from first baseman Kayli Kvistad and Roberts in the first inning set the tone of the match as the Gators jumped out to a 2-0 lead.
Then, the floodgates opened.
After right fielder Jaimie Hoover drew a one-out walk, Adams reached safely on a first-pitch bunt. Reynoso then walked on four pitches to load the bases.
Panthers pitcher Amanda Chance couldn’t keep her command as she walked left fielder Amanda Lorenz as well, scoring Hoover and making it 3-0.
Kvistad followed Lorenz with a double down the left-field line, which scored two more and prompted a Georgia State pitching change.
Panthers reliever Mallory Parson got her first batter — third baseman Nicole DeWitt — to hit a pop fly, but left fielder Cassidy Faulk misjudged it’s flight, letting it drop behind her and allowing Lorenz to score. 6-0.
On the ensuing at-bat, Parson left a pitch over the plate for Ocasio, who crushed it over the right-field wall. 9-0.
With a healthy lead, Barnhill and freshman Natalie Lugo combined for five innings, allowing one hit and striking out four in the mercy-rule victory.
“We’ve gotten almost all of our players in the game,” Walton said. “So that’s a tremendous compliment to them and their hard work.”