It was a relatively quiet game offensively for the Gators, but little run support is necessary with Kelly Barnhill on the mound.
The senior ace did what she has seemingly grown accustomed to doing in big moments for her team, throwing a two-hit complete game shutout and notching an impressive 29th win on the season.
Sixth seeded Florida (43-15, 12-12 SEC) conjured up three runs offensively in support, more than enough to defeat No. 10-seed Auburn (39-19) Friday afternoon in the SEC Tournament semifinals in College Station, Texas.
The four-time defending regular season SEC champion Gators secured a second-consecutive trip to the conference final, a Saturday matchup against the winner of No. 4 seed Kentucky and No. 1 seed Alabama.
Barnhill was dominant from the first pitch, retiring her first eight batters before surrendering a harmless double to the Tigers’ Morgan Podany in the bottom of the third.
A lone single the next inning from Auburn’s Tannon Snow, as well as two walks were the only blemishes on an 11-strikeout performance from Barnhill.
The Gators provided support for Barnhill early offensively, with all three of their runs coming in the first three innings of play. Leading the effort for Florida was sophomore Hannah Adams, who went 2 for 3 with 3 RBIs. She was responsible for all of the Gators’ runs on the day.
A two-run home run to right center in the bottom of the first, her third of the year, drove in Kendyl Lindaman and gave UF an early 2-0 led.
Two innings later, Adams brought home Amanda Lorenz with a single to right center, extending the Gators’ lead to 3-0 in the bottom of the third.
Though the Gators failed to muster a hit in the remaining frames, Barnhill had all the support she needed.
UF is untested against a strong Kentucky team this season and was swept by the Crimson Tide on home turf less than a month ago, but despite that, history bodes the Gators well. Florida has won four-straight regular season SEC Championships as well as last year’s SEC Tournament.
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