Tim Casey / UAA Communications

Florida sweeps Aquafina Invitational

The Florida Gators softball team just keeps on winning game after game. After the latest weekend series, the Gators now boast a 22-0 record – the third best start for the Gators ever.

The Gators captured the Aquafina Invitational crown after beating FIU 3-1 on Friday, South Alabama 9-0 and FIU 10-0 on Saturday, and Illinois State 11-1 and FAMU 4-1 on Sunday.

Head coach Tim Walton was excited about his team’s hot start and was pleased the Gators could come back home to play in front of their fans.

"This weekend was a good opportunity to play at home, in truly our first real home-stand of the season,” Walton said. “It was a chance to get a lot of players some action and good looks in different situations. We really had some nice crowds this weekend. Every night was great and this weekend was awesome too. I was happy that we were able to get out there and try to be as fun to watch as possible for our fans. Overall, we had a good week."

Florida has been led by the dominant pitching of Aleshia Ocasio (0.41 ERA), Delanie Gourley (0.50 ERA) and Kelly Barnhill (1.05 ERA).

"Delanie [Gourley] had as good of stuff as she's had all year,” Walton said after Florida’s 3-1 win over FIU Friday night. “She had her rise ball going and was getting ahead of hitters, which enabled her to get swings and misses. Her movement was good and her changeup was solid all night long. She was able to make some adjustments to her rise ball later in the game and I thought that was the difference as she faced their hitters for the second and third time. I'm really, really happy to see her go out there and compete well. She set the tone for us tonight."

Three runs allowed across the five-game series is a true testament to how fantastic the Gators pitching and defense has been.

Although the offense seems to get flustered at times, the Gators know they have the firepower to keep up with and blow out anyone – as evidenced in Saturday’s contests. The key is to just keep it cool.

"I thought we just didn't try to do too much, as we took our walks when they were there,” said Walton. “We also hit the ball to right field, left field, up the middle and out of the ballpark. It was a combination of good placement and being under control with good swings."

The No. 1-ranked Gators are back in action Wednesday March 9 when they take on South Dakota at home for a double-header. First pitches are scheduled for 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.

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