There was no match for the Gators softball team.
Boston University, Stanford and Boise State each failed to muster up anything sufficient enough to challenge an elite Florida pitching staff this past weekend at the Gainesville NCAA Regional.
The No. 8 Gators (47-15) cruised to their 12th NCAA Super Regional in program history, and Gainesville will again serve as host this weekend to a three-game series against No. 11 Tennessee (42-15), the winner of the Knoxville Regional.
Three games into NCAA play, Florida looks prepared to make a strong Women’s College World Series run. The Gators blazed their way through all three NCAA Regional matchups, outscoring their opponents 16-0. Here’s how they did it:
Continued dominance in the circle
To say Florida’s pitching excelled would be an understatement. The Gators didn’t allow a single run in three games at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium, which included a combined no-hitter in Saturday’s game against Boise State.
Senior ace Kelly Barnhill (32-11) displayed her typical prowess in the circle, winning two of her three starts and fanning 14 batters in the process. She’s now only 34 strikeouts short of Stacey Nelson’s UF single-season strikeout record (363).
Sophomore Natalie Lugo (8-3) entered in relief for Barnhill in Saturday’s Boise State game and threw three perfect innings of her own, earning a win while getting her first postseason experience.
UF once again proved that it has one of the nation’s best pitching staffs, capable of carrying it deep into the postseason.
Bats trending upwards
While often an inconsistent aspect of the team, the Gators were effective offensively, scoring 16 runs on 20 hits in the three regional games.
The top of the order, consisting of first baseman Amanda Lorenz, designated player Kendyl Lindaman and second basemen Hannah Adams, continued to spark the offense — the trio combined for half the team’s hits.
The other players in the lineup also showed signs of life this past weekend. Right fielder Jaimie Hoover homered in the regional final, and left fielder Jade Caraway knocked in three RBIs in the game prior.
The pitching UF faced this week was less challenging than what it faced in the SEC Tournament a few weeks ago, and it was likely inferior to the pitching it will face throughout the rest of the postseason. The offensive production, however, was still encouraging.
Follow Jack Braverman on Twitter @jack_braverman and contact him at [email protected].