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Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Florida softball finishes regular season with series sweep of Missouri

Kayli Kvistad

Kayli Kvistad hit a home run against Missouri that would give Florida the lead for good.

Tied at four apiece in the top of the seventh, senior first baseman Kayli Kvistad knew what it was going to take to finish Florida softball’s uphill battle against the Missouri Tigers.

With a 2-2 count, she stepped out of the right batter’s box, took a deep breath and stepped back to home plate. She set her feet and held her bat parallel with the ground right in front of her as she waited on a pitch from Danielle Baumgartner.

As the toss left the circle, she brought the bat behind her and swung in one fluid motion, giving her enough momentum to drive the ball into right field territory and behind the fence.

Kvistad’s three-run homer was the hit that sealed a 7-4 victory and series sweep over the Tigers at Missouri Sunday afternoon.

No. 4 Florida’s victory at Missouri (28-27, 6-17 SEC) marked the fifth SEC series sweep of its regular season.

The Gators (47-8, 20-4 SEC) were late to score in their third matchup against the Tigers, letting Missouri get a 2-0 lead before senior third baseman Nicole DeWitt sent a home run to center field in the top of the fourth.

Despite the burst of energy as DeWitt circled the diamond, it didn’t last long. With one out already on the board, Kvistad flied out to left field and freshman utility player Jordan Matthews grounded out to shortstop.

Missouri answered back quickly, securing a 4-1 lead in the bottom of the fourth with a two-run home run from Rylee Pierce.

Senior catcher Janell Wheaton and pitcher Aleshia Ocasio helped reduce the lead by scoring their own runs in the top of the fifth.

A single to center field from pinch hitter Danielle Romanello gave enough time for Wheaton to run around third base and make it to home plate safely, bringing the score up 4-2.

The Tigers tried to hold off the Gators with a pitching change from Madi Norman to Baumgartner, but it wasn’t enough to stop Ocasio who scored off a double to deep right field from freshman second baseman Hannah Adams.

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Things picked up in the seventh inning, as sophomore center fielder Jaimie Hoover scored off a single to center field by DeWitt.

Kvistad gave the Gators their first lead with a home run to right field. The hit also brought in two runs from junior left fielder Amanda Lorenz and DeWitt.

Freshman Natalie Lugo and Ocasio split time in the circle at Missouri, combining for two strikeouts and three errors on 90 tosses.

Florida will return to the diamond this week when they start the SEC Tournament in Columbia, Missouri.

Follow Mari Faiello on Twitter @faiello_mari and contact her at mfaiello@alligator.org.

 

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