With runners on second and third base deep into the seventh inning, Florida freshman outfielder Jordan Matthews had one job.
She stepped up to the plate, awaited a pitch from Illinois State’s Morgan Day and swung.
In her first collegiate game as a Gator, Matthews not only hit the pitch well enough to help teammates Aleshia Ocasio and Sophia Reynoso score, but she hit a home run to left field, UF’s first long ball of the year.
Her three-RBI blast pushed the Gators to a 9-0 lead in their season opener against the Redbirds on Friday.
“That just has to be a special moment to finally see her play college softball," coach Tim Walton said. "And for her to get a home run in her first collegiate game is really special.”
Coming off a solid weekend at the USF Softball Stadium, the Gators (5-0) will host their first home game of the season at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium tonight at 6 against North Florida (2-3). Tonight’s matchup is one of 29 regular season games they’ll host this season.
The No. 2 Gators are coming off an opening weekend that saw them record four shutouts in five games, a good start for a team that’s hoping to make up for its defeat in last year’s Women’s College World Series.
Matthews is just one reason the Gators have a lot to look forward to this season.
The Anaheim, California, native was one of their most impressive players during opening weekend. After hitting a home run in UF’s first game of the season, Matthews started the next four at either right field or designated player.
Overall, she recorded 10 RBIs, two home runs and 12 total bases in the five-game stretch, the most on the team for each of those categories.
Her slugging percentage so far this season isn’t something to scoff at either. She’s second behind sophomore utility player Jaimie Hoover (1.000), coming in at .923.
Matthews also ranks third on the team in batting average at .462, just behind Hoover and junior outfielder Amanda Lorenz, who are tied for first at .500.
“Jordan was out there playing a new position and looked good,” Walton said.
North Florida is on a three-game losing streak coming into tonight's game with the Gators.
Junior utility player Navia Penrod holds one of the highest batting averages (.526) and slugging percentages (.579) on North Florida’s roster and also has a team-high four RBIs.
With the help of Matthews, the Gators will look to extend their 7-0 all-time record against the Ospreys tonight.
“That’s all you need to say," Walton said. "Jordan Matthews, pretty good.”