Matt Ramirez / UAA Communications

Gators Sweep Vols in Weekend Series

Florida’s No. 1-ranked softball team improved to 30-1 after sweeping the No. 16 Tennessee Volunteers over the weekend.

In Friday’s game, the Gators were led by Aleshia Ocasio’s fantastic pitching. Ocasio threw a complete game and improved her record to 10-1. UF scored three runs in the first inning and never looked back in the 5-0 win.

Florida head coach Tim Walton was delighted with his starting pitcher’s performance.

“I thought Aleshia [Ocasio] came out and did a really great job. She really set the tone for us early,” Walton said after Friday’s game. “Defensively, the team made some really nice plays behind her, as they made all the routine ones look easy and they even made the hard plays look easy too. I thought we did a really good job. And then being able to get out of the gate and go up 3-0 was the key to the whole game for us."

Saturday’s game was a bit closer, but the Gators pulled out the win with a score of 4-2.

Kelly Barnhill pitched five solid innings and earned her tenth win on the season taking her record to a perfect 10-0. Barnhill was pulled after giving up two runs in the fifth, helping Tennessee tie the game at 2-2.

"I think Kelly [Barnhill] had some really good stuff today,” Walton said. “She got a little timid in the fourth and fifth innings, but I thought her stuff was good. She's got a really electric rise ball and did a good job setting the tone early in the game. Scoring runs early obviously helped set the tone too. That forced [Tennessee] to change their swings when they're down 2-0. We did give up two runs on a single but the way we came back and got the next run was huge."

The Gators scored on a walk in the bottom of the fifth to take the lead 3-2 and then Kayli Kvistad’s single added an insurance run in the sixth.

Aleshia Ocasio pitched a perfect final two innings for the Gators as she earned her third save of the season.

Even after locking up the series win on Saturday, the Gators knew they had to stay hot to get the series sweep. And so they did.

Delanie Gourley started and finished the game on the mound for the Gators. Gourley only allowed one hit as she picked up her tenth win on the season in the 3-0 win.

Florida’s offense didn’t kick in until the third inning when Kelsey Stewart scored on a wild pitch. Stewart drove in two insurance runs in the fifth, but one run was all the Gators needed behind Gourley’s impressive day.

After Sunday’s game, Tim Walton was extremely happy with his team’s effort, especially his three pitchers.

"I love sweeps. Sweeps are awesome,” said Walton. “They're hard to come by in this league. It says a lot about our ability to start three different pitchers in a weekend, which makes it really difficult for other teams to prepare for us. I thought all three of them did a very good job this weekend."

Florida’s 30-1 start to the season is tied for their best ever with their 2011 squad.

Up Next: The Gators will take on LSU in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on Friday April 1 in a double header and Saturday April 2 for the third game of the series.

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