No. 6 seed Florida softball completes epic week to win 2019 SEC Tournament championship

By Adam Silverstein
May 11, 2019
No. 6 seed Florida softball completes epic week to win 2019 SEC Tournament championship
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Image Credit: ESPN Images

Entering the 2019 SEC Tournament as an underdog seeded sixth in the field, Florida Gators softball completed an epic week on Saturday night with a 2-1 win over the top-seeded Alabama Crimson Tide to win its second straight league tournament title and the fifth in program history. The five SEC Tournament titles for the Gators tie the most in conference history as Florida picked up its second-straight such crown.

It should come as no surprise that two of the best players in Gators softball history were key in the program’s title-clinching victory.

Senior first baseman Amanda Lorenz (2/3, 2 RBI, BB) knocked in her team’s lone runs in the top of the sixth when she smacked a two-out double just over third base and down the left-field line. Florida was just 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position on the evening, and Lorenz — who could end her career as the team’s all-time leader in batting average and on-base percentage — came through in the clutch as she always seems to for UF.

Senior right-handed pitcher Kelly Barnhill may not have had a perfect night — her six walks were a sour note — but she struck out six, allowing just two hits and her lone earned run in 21 innings of SEC Tournament action as part of a complete-game victory. The win was No. 100 in Barnhill’s career, and she earned it in spectacular fashion with a two-out strikeout to retire Alabama for good, her 24th over three games in this year’s event.

None of this would have been possible for the Gators without the heroics of sophomore Jordan Matthews, who fueled Florida to a walk-off win in Game 1 of the SEC Tournament to complete the team’s largest comeback since 2015. UF trailed South Carolina 4-0 entering the sixth inning and 5-2 entering the final frame. The Gators rallied to score four runs in the bottom of the seventh with Matthews’ two-run double to left center allowing the team to advance.

Florida went on to blank LSU and Auburn in a pair of 3-0 victories before it took down Alabama, which swept the regular-season series in Gainesville, Florida, by a combined score of 12-2 in late April. The Gators actually entered the SEC Tournament just .500 (12-12) in SEC play despite being 28-3 against all other opponents on the season.

Now 44-15 with five straight victories, Florida should see a boost into the 2019 NCAA Tournament field from its No. 9 national ranking prior to the SEC Tournament. Once the field is announced, the Gators will surely host the Gainesville Regional and most likely be in line to host a Super Regional (should they advance) for the seventh straight season and 12th time in 13 years.

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