Despite leaving Lafayette on Sunday with its first loss of 2018, the Florida softball team should be encouraged by its performance so far this season.
The Gators are 8-1 this year following their three-game series against Louisiana this past weekend, outscoring the Ragin’ Cajuns 16-4 as they continued to bat and pitch at an elite level.
Pitcher Aleshia Ocasio bent over and picked up some clay on the mound with her right hand.
It took a gutsy 11-inning, 185-pitch performance by Louisiana’s Summer Ellyson and a walk-off home run from outfielder Casidy Chaumont to defeat Florida 4-3 on Sunday at Lamson Park.
The Gators entered Sunday’s game averaging eight runs per game. Even though they couldn’t match that output, they put themselves in a position to win on multiple occasions.
They left a total of 10 runners on base, including two on in the second, third and 10th innings.
But Florida did come through in several scenarios.
Outfielder Amanda Lorenz singled in the second inning to score catcher Janell Wheaton and pitcher Aleshia Ocasio. Lorenz extended her hitting streak to seven games and leads the team with 14 hits this season.
After the Ragin’ Cajuns tied up the game in the fourth, neither team scored again until the 11th inning.
Second baseman Hannah Adams put the Gators up 3-2 with a single to score Ocasio from second in the top of the 11th, giving the senior pitcher an opportunity to close out the game in the bottom of the inning.
Instead Ocasio gave up her only two earned runs of the game and her third home run of the year, as Chaumont knocked a walk-off bomb over the fence.
The four runs scored by Louisiana on Sunday were the most Florida has given up in a game this season. It was only the second game where UF didn’t shut out its opponent.
Ocasio and junior Kelly Barnhill have also dominated the circle for the Gators in the early going, having pitched 86.5 percent of their team’s defensive innings with respective ERAs of 1.28 and 0.29.
On the offensive end, UF has received contributions from all over its lineup.
Among players with at least 10 at-bats, Florida has five players batting .300 or over, seven players with five or more RBIs and eight players with on-base percentages exceeding .400.
Entering the weekend, third baseman Nicole DeWitt was one of the Gators’ only starters not producing consistently on offensive, hitting .188 through the first six gamers. However, DeWitt knocked in two home runs and four RBIs against Louisiana to get her season back on track.
Florida hosts a double-header on Wednesday afternoon at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium against Oakland. UF is 6-0 in games this season that were played as part of a double-header.
Follow Mark Stine on Twitter @mstinejr and contact him at [email protected].