When Nicole DeWitt’s powerful hit soared over right field, she brought her left hand to her lips and blew a kiss to the sky.
The two-run homer in the first inning, followed up with the clear emotion from DeWitt, showed just how crucial her hit was for the Gators.
It was the beginning of a swing in momentum that Florida desperately needed to stay alive in the NCAA Softball Regionals. A loss would be an end to its season.
And, for now, Florida is still alive.
The 5-0 win over Oklahoma State on Sunday afternoon advanced UF to the Super Regionals, which will be played next weekend.
After the Gators took the quick 2-0 lead, they tacked on another run in the following inning off a sacrifice fly from sophomore Amanda Lorenz, who ended with five hits on the weekend.
With runs continually added to the board in the third and fifth innings, the Gators made sure a comeback for OSU wasn’t in reach.
Florida converted on its eight hits in the game, forcing the Cowgirls to move through three different pitchers.
Both Kayli Kvistad and Sophia Reynoso each had a pair of hits in the win.
And on the defensive side, a toughness led by senior pitcher Delanie Gourley disrupted any offense for OSU.
The Lakeside, California, native threw a one-hitter, striking out 12 along the way.
But this dominance displayed by Florida wasn’t as present in its first game of the day against Oklahoma State.
OSU took down Florida 1-0 in a pitching duel between sophomore Kelly Barnhill and senior Brandi Needham.
Through the first three innings, neither team could convert any of its hits into runs due to talented defenses.
In the fourth inning, it looked as if Florida would add runs to the board when it loaded the bases with no outs. But a single by Reynoso forced a tag-out at third base to secure the first out, and then Chelsea Herndon’s groundout turned into a double play to get the Cowgirls out of the inning.
Needham and her defense quelled any momentum for the Gators, as Florida left seven players on base in the game.
While Barnhill recorded her second loss of the season, she was still impressive. The Marietta, Georgia, native struck out 13 while allowing three hits.
Two of those hits came in the sixth inning, which drove in the one run of the game to put Oklahoma State in the lead and eventually clinch the win.
No. 1 Florida (53-7) will either face Alabama or Minnesota in the Super Regionals, a best-of-three series which will be played in Gainesville next week.
Contact Cassie Amundson at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @camundson_.