Gators ride dominant pitching to win over Tigers
The third-ranked Florida softball team plated a first-inning run Sunday and sophomore right-hander Kelly Barnhill made it stand up.
Barnhill threw a complete game, three-hitter as the Gators improved to 22-1 overall and 2-0 in SEC play with a 1-0 win over No. 24 Missouri before a Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium crowd of 1,412.
Both starters went the distance as Barnhill (9-0) outdueled the Tigers' Cheyenne Baxter, who allowed just five hits but fell to 2-2 on the season in a game that took just 1:35 to complete.
“I thought Kelly did a good job,” UF coach Tim Walton said. “She had really good stuff. She was able to throw rise balls in the zone and out of the zone. She got a lot of swings and misses, and I was really happy for her to get a shutout. In this league against good hitting teams, that's a very tough task. Give her credit for being able to do that.”
Florida, winner of 14 in a row, finished with just five hits to three for Missouri, but the Tigers (11-10, 0-2) never seriously threatened as UF clinched the series.
The Gators were again led by leadoff batter Amanda Lorenz, who was 2-for-3 and scored the game's only run.
“I think we were just ready right out of the gate, learning from yesterday,” said Lorenz, who is now 5-for-7 in the series.
“I think the fact that we just moved runners over in the first inning was big for us.”
Just as she did in Saturday's opening 6-0 win, Lorenz led off the UF first with a solid single, and then advanced to second on a bunt hit by Sophia Reynoso.
Unlike Saturday, UF was able to manufacture a first-inning run as both runners moved up on a double steal on a called third strike to Kayli Kvistad, and Lorenz then scored on a fielder's choice by Jaimie Hoover to stake Barnhill to a 1-0 lead.
It turned out to be the only run of the game but it was enough for Barnhill, who struck out 12 batters and walked just one.
“It was a really fun game today,” Barnhill said. “The defense was amazing. It just really pumps you up when you see your defense working that hard. It's really nice when you get up on that board early and kind of set the tone for the game.”
In posting back-to-back shutouts, UF has allowed just four hits and will go for the series sweep against the Tigers Monday night at 7.
“We've kind of coined a phrase in our dugout that if the pitchers don't give up any runs, we can't ever lose,” Walton said. “We try to score runs as early as possible and make that come true.”
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