With a 1-1 count in the bottom of the first inning, Florida catcher Janell Wheaton got ready for a third pitch.
She pumped the bat once. Then twice. Three, four and five times before North Florida pitcher Morgan Blourne let one loose from the circle.
Wheaton swung hard, sending the ball toward the fence on a line drive deep into center field.
With runners on second and third base deep into the seventh inning, Florida freshman outfielder Jordan Matthews had one job.
The hit gave her a single, but more importantly, it gave first baseman Kayli Kvistad enough time to round third base and sprint to home plate, scoring the Gators softball team’s first run of the night.
The Gators won their home opener 9-0 against the Ospreys on Wednesday night at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium led by a no-hitter from junior pitcher Kelly Barnhill. Barnhill totaled 12 strikeouts on 55 pitches and only allowed one baserunner in five innings of work. It was the third no-hitter of Barnhill’s career, and the first no-hitter thrown by a Gators pitcher since Delanie Gourley shut out Florida A&M in last year’s NCAA Regional.
“I was just going out there and trying not to think,” Barnhill said. “I just went to bullpens these last few days and focused on my rise ball and I think it showed today.”
Despite a slow start offensively — scoring only two runs in the first three innings — the Gators (6-0) picked up speed in the bottom of the fourth, going through 11 hitters and scoring seven runs. Third baseman Nicole DeWitt had a particularly scrappy play, stealing home to give UF a 5-0 lead.
Another highlight play in the frame included the first collegiate hit from utility player and catcher Danielle Romanello. Romanello hit an RBI double down the left-field line that allowed outfielder Aleshia Ocasio to score the Gators’ final run of the night.
“We’re six games into the season already, and I think it’s been somebody new every time stepping up and getting a nice hit,” coach Tim Walton said.
This weekend, the Gators will hit the road for a double-header in Lafayette as they take on the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns twice starting on Saturday at 4 p.m.