Nicole DeWitt

Infielder Nicole DeWitt socked a walk-off home run over the wall at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium on Saturday, capping off a sweep for Florida against South Carolina.

South Carolina center fielder Kamryn Watts stuck her arm out to feel for the wall.

She was tracking a high fly ball driven by UF third baseman Nicole DeWitt with a scoreless game in the bottom of the seventh.

Watts stumbled as she reached the wall and was unable to jump strongly for the ball, which barely cleared the barrier in dead center field.

The three-run, walk-off home run captured a series sweep for No. 6 Florida over the No. 11 Gamecocks on Saturday.

“I got a pretty good piece of the ball,” DeWitt said. “I was just trying to keep it simple and luckily the ball went out.”

It was DeWitt’s first walk-off home run as a Gator, and her five RBIs over both legs of Saturday’s doubleheader at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium led UF to respective victories of 7-0 and 3-0.

The Gators captured the first game behind a balanced offensive attack and a staunch effort in the circle from senior Aleshia Ocasio.

UF received hits from six players and an RBI from four different contributors. It went 10-for-14 with runners on base, while South Carolina only managed a mark of 2-for-6.

With runners on first and second and two outs in bottom of the second, designated player Jordan Roberts thumped line drive that took one hop and bounced off the wall, a two-RBI single that produced the day’s first runs.
Florida tacked on three more in the third.

Second baseman Hannah Adams, who went 5-for-8 on Saturday atop the UF batting order, led off with a single and advanced to third when left fielder Amanda Lorenz followed with a single of her own.

“Adams had probably the difference making at-bats in my opinion,” UF coach Tim Walton said.

After Lorenz stole second, DeWitt grounded a base knock up to score Adams and send Lorenz to third. First baseman Kayli Kvistad brought Lorenz home and DeWitt to third by belting a sacrifice fly to the warning track in center field.

On the successive at-bat, Ocasio laid down a sacrifice squeeze bunt to score the third baseman and push UF’s lead to 5-0.

Meanwhile, Ocasio proved her dominance in the circle, striking out 10 Gamecocks through her first four innings. The senior finished the day allowing only two hits and one walk in a complete game.

Saturday’s second matchup was a pitching duel between UF junior Kelly Barnhill and South Carolina freshman Kelsey Oh.

Neither pitcher allowed more than five hits, but the Gators were able to threaten by drawing walks, six in total.

In the bottom of the first, Adams led off with a single and was followed by walks from Lorenz in the two spot and Kvistad in the cleanup position to load the bases.

However, subsequent batters Janell Wheaton and Ocasio struck out and fouled out, respectively, to quell the threat.

Ocasio got aboard in the bottom of the fourth via walk. A sacrifice bunt by Roberts allowed Ocasio to advance to second and take third with nobody covering the bag.

Yet, a pop-up by shortstop Sophia Reynoso and a strikeout by pinch hitter Jaimie Hoover ended another scoring opportunity.

Barnhill efficiently navigated through seven innings of South Carolina’s lineup, allowing one hit and one walk to go along with eight punch-outs. Fifty-nine of her 84 pitches were strikes and she threw only 15 pitches in the final two innings combined.

Then with one out in the bottom of the seventh, another single from Adams was followed by another Lorenz walk, setting the table for DeWitt.

“She’s shown a lot of toughness and leadership skills,” Walton said about DeWitt. “What toughness is and what we described it as: the ability to perform at your best when it matters the most. That’s the key.”

Follow Mark Stine on Twitter @mstinejr and contact him at [email protected].

Mark Stine is sports editor for the Independent Florida Alligator. He's a senior at UF and has written softball, women's soccer, men's tennis and cross country in the past.