COLUMBIA, Mo. – The fourth-ranked Florida softball team claimed its fourth-straight Southeastern Conference Regular Season Championship after it defeated Missouri, 4-1, Friday evening at the Mizzou Softball Field. It's the eighth overall regular season league title for the program.
The Gators are only the second program in conference history to have captured four consecutive regular season titles. LSU accomplished the feat with championships in 1999, 2000, 2001 & 2002.
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Florida jumped out in front and took a 2-0 lead in the first inning over Missouri. After back-to-back walks to lead off the inning by Hannah Adams and Amanda Lorenz, Kayli Kvistad pushed the pair across with a base hit up the middle of the Tigers defense.
Missouri cut into the UF lead, 2-1, in the bottom of the second with a solo home run by Brooke Wilmes.
Kvistad produced her third RBI of the game when she put the Gators ahead 3-1 in the top of the sixth inning. The Lake City, Fla. native belted her fourth home run of the year to lead off the frame, while Janell Wheaton followed up solo homer to left center to extend the lead out to 4-1.
In the seventh, the Tigers attempted to rally after it struck for a single run thanks to Cayla Kessinger, but Florida would not be denied as starter Kelly Barnhill induced a pop fly to Adams at second and a grounder to DeWitt at third to secure the victory.
It's the 4th straight SEC regular season title for the 's! All the highlights from the clinching game! pic.twitter.com/jra3offlnJ— Gators Softball (@GatorsSB) May 5, 2018
The Gators will look to clinch the series against the Tigers tomorrow at 3 p.m. (ET)/ 2 p.m. (CT)
On the significance of winning four-straight regular season SEC titles…
"I'm very proud of our players, young and old, for maintaining the level of consistency and professionalism to go through this regular season and come out as champions. It says a lot about the way they prepare, how they take care of each other and just how consistent we've played all season long. It was a happy moment for me to watch our players celebrate after we won to clinch the regular season championship."
On this senior class winning four SEC championships…
"I've had a lot of really, really good teams and good players, but to win a SEC regular season championship as a freshman, a sophomore, a junior and a senior, is very impressive. My hat is off to these four young women for just how hard they work, how hard they compete, how well they compete and how well they prepare to be champions. No one is ever going to be able to take that away from them and to be a four-time SEC champion is something very few people get to do. I'm happy that I've had the chance to coach these four seniors, they've really been the backbone of our success day in and day out."
- With tonight's win the Gators clinched their fourth-consecutive SEC Regular Season Championship and eighth overall league title.
- Florida is now only the second program in conference history to have won four straight SEC regular season titles. LSU accomplished the feat in '99, '00, '01 & '02.
- Florida scored two runs in the first inning against Missouri.
- Florida now holds a record of 40-2 when scoring first.
- The team has now scored in the first inning 31 times.
- After drawing seven walks in tonight's game, the Gators now lead the nation with 268 walks on the season.
- Florida hit a pair of solo home runs by
and in the sixth inning to extend the lead out to 4-1.
- It's the eighth time this season that the Gators have hit two or more home runs in an inning.