College softball: No. 3 Florida downs No. 1 Florida State on walk-off
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Fresh from Florida Sunshine Showdown was truly a showdown as No. 3 Florida walked off to defeat No. 1 Florida State. Kayli Kvistad drove home Justine McLean for the most important and only run of the contest. The bottom of the seventh started with McLean as she reached with a one-handed bunt single, her first of the year, to start the inning and two batters later was plated via Kvistad's RBI single to right field.
The Gators (38-2) answered the bell against another Top 25 opponent (the 16th to be exact). Florida State (38-2-1) entered the contest as the top-ranked team in the country and with NCAA leading marks in both batting average and on base percentage. Not to mention the third best scoring offense in the country, as the Seminoles average 7.88 runs per game.
What Florida has brought to the table all season long showed up again tonight in front of a Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium record crowd of 2,547 – great pitching, solid defense and timely hitting. The Gators used all three facets to shut out Florida State for the first time in 29 games and record the Gators ninth shut out over a Top 25 opponent.
In the first inning, Florida State looked poised to burst onto the scoreboard first as the Seminoles posted three of their four hits in the frame. Morgan Klaevemann singled to start the contest but was charged with leaving the base early after trying to steal second when Alex Powers struck out.
Jessica Warren continued the threat and put Florida State into scoring position on a double to left center but that is where Florida put its foot down.
The Gators recorded their second outfield assists of the season and in as many games when sophomore Amanda Lorenz fielded an Ellie Cooper single to left field and threw out Warren at home plate for the final out of the inning.
From there starter Delanie Gourley settled into a groove in the circle. Gourley, a 2017 USA Softball Player of the Year finalist, settled down to retire 13 of the next 14 Seminole batters she faced. Klaevemann reached via a shallow single to left field in the third for the final Florida State hit of the game.
The nation's top fielding defense (.986 fielding percentage) provided stout backup to the great pitching performance as the Gators produced eight assists on the night. Gourley's night ended at the end of the fifth inning on 72 pitches and seven strikeouts with no walks.
Sophomore Kelly Barnhill (16-0), another 2017 USA Softball Player of the Year finalist and the nation's leading pitcher in ERA, relieved Gourley in the sixth inning of play and shut the door on the Seminoles. Barnhill struck out three and issued only one walk without giving up a hit through two innings of work.
Jessica Burroughs gave up two hits to Wheaton the first six innings of play before Megan King (17-1) relieved her in the final frame.