Florida teammates Justine McLean (52) and Nicole Dewitt (23) congratulate each other in this file photo after McLean scored a run during a game against Missouri at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium in Gainesville Saturday March 11, 2017.
Complete effort nets big win
Third-ranked Florida broke open a tight game with a four-run fourth inning and starter Kelly Barnhill did the rest Saturday as the Gators posted a 5-0 win over 18th-ranked Georgia before a school-record Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium crowd of 2,497.
UF took an early lead with a single run in the bottom of the first, but the score remained the same until the Gators sent nine batters to the plate and scored four more times in the fourth to break things open and improve to 35-2 overall and 11-1 in Southeastern Conference play, while dropping the Bulldogs to 27-11, 2-8.
“I thought Kelly did a good job of settling the game,” Florida coach Tim Walton said. “On offense, we came out ready to play and found a way to catch a break, then got a little aggressive and did some things.”
UF second baseman Nicole DeWitt had a big day, going 3-for-4 at the plate and making several outstanding defensive plays to keep Georgia from getting anything going.
“I was just getting pitches and seeing the ball a little bit,” DeWitt said. “She (Georgia starter Brittany Gray) was doing a great job. I just got a couple of pitches and that's what happens. I think the team did a really good job today.”
Amanda Lorenz had two hits, scored twice and knocked in a run to back up Dewitt's solid game, and Aleshia Ocasio and Justine McLean also each had an RBI for the Gators, while sisters Cortni and Sydni Emanuel each went 2-for-4 in a losing effort for the Bulldogs.
“Overall both teams kind of came in with a little bit of a game plan, and I thought we executed our game plan offensively,” Walton said. “Defensively both teams probably go away from here today and say 'hey, we've got to be a little bit sharper.'”
Barnhill threw a complete game, striking out seven and walking two in improving to 14-0 on the season, while Gray (17-7) took the loss.
Georgia's best threat came in the first, when the Emanuel sisters, batting first and second, both reached on perfectly-placed bunts to put two runners on with no one out.
But Barnhill struck out the next two hitters looking before Cortni Emanuel was thrown out trying to steal third to retire the side.
“I was able to get the pitches to work when I needed to,” Barnhill said. “Those two girls are very, very fast, and it's hard to defend something like that. You just pretty much have to move on to the next batter and the next pitch, and that's what you do.”
The record crowd eclipsed the previous mark of 2,488 set against Kentucky on April 11, 2015.
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