Ole Miss right fielder Kylan Becker raced to first base after her decent hit headed straight towards Gators third baseman Aleshia Ocasio. To those watching, it seemed like it would be an easy out for Florida.
But Ocasio couldn’t field the ball, which put Rebels on first and second base with no outs in the first inning.
This error by the Gator defense led to a two-run RBI double by freshman Dylinn Stancil to push Ole Miss ahead early.
No. 1 Florida could not make any sort of comeback after that, and lost 0-2 to the Rebels Thursday afternoon in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament in Knoxville, Tennessee.
It was the first time Florida has been knocked out of its first game of the SEC tournament since 2014 and the first time the team has been shutout since its 0-1 loss to Auburn in late March.
After sweeping the Rebels in regular season play, scoring ten runs and giving up none in that weekend series, today’s game seemed uncharacteristic for Florida’s typical dominant play.
While Gators pitcher Delanie Gourley took the loss in the circle, she didn’t have a poor game. After the first inning, she retired seven straight. And while she allowed seven hits through five innings, the only damage that came from that was in the first. She ended the day with seven strikeouts before SEC Pitcher of the Year Kelly Barnhill came in as relief.
The Florida offense, however, could only get two hits off Ole Miss pitcher Kaitlin Lee. Lee had a perfect game through four innings, retiring everyone in the Gators lineup before junior Kayli Kvistad eventually hammered a single to centerfield.
The only time there seemed to be any kind of momentum shift in Florida’s favor was in that fourth inning.
After a hard-hit RBI single from Ole Miss freshman Kaylee Horton and with the way Florida’s offense was playing, it looked like the game was out of reach. But the run was called back, due to runner Stancil leaving base early. The call-back seemed to give some life back to Florida, and with Kvistad connecting on the single, it looked like there might be a comeback.
But Lee remained calm, forcing a groundout and a fly-out to end the inning. That seemed to the pattern for Lee Thursday afternoon, forcing the defense behind her to make simple outs that would prevent any momentum shift. She ended with four strikeouts.
With the quick trip to Knoxville, Florida (50-6) will head back to Gainesville and wait for the NCAA Women’s College World Series Selection Show on Sunday to find out its seed in the NCAA tournament.
Contact Cassie Amundson at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @camundson_.