Florida softball blasts rival Georgia to open 2018 Women’s College World Series

By Adam Silverstein
May 31, 2018
Florida softball blasts rival Georgia to open 2018 Women’s College World Series
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Image Credit: ESPN Images

Three outs into No. 2 Florida Gators softball’s opener in the 2018 Women’s College World Series, it looked like head coach Tim Walton made a disastrous mistake. Three outs later, there was little doubt his team would be victorious on Thursday evening in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Florida routed the No. 7 Georgia Bulldogs 11-3 behind three home runs, including a three-run shot from senior right-handed pitcher Aleshia Ocasio in the bottom of the first that made up for a two-run blast she allowed in the game’s opening frame. That homer was part of a five-run frame for the Gators, which never relinquished the lead after gaining it in the first inning. UF improved to 41-0 when scoring 5+ runs this season.

Ocasio, who started over junior ace Kelly Barnhill in a surprise move by Walton, got rocked for three hits and a homer in the opening frame. She gave up another with two outs in the third and allowed seven hits on the evening but did an expert job getting out of jams, thanks in large part to Florida’s defense and seven key strikeouts.

In addition to crushing three homers on the evening, the Gators saw everyone in their lineup reach base.

Prior to Ocasio’s homer in the first, freshman designated player Jordan Matthews continued her hot streak with a two-run double off the left-field wall. Florida added a run on a fielder’s choice in the second and saw Georgia inch back with a solo shot of its own in the third, but the attempted comeback would be short-lived for the Bulldogs.

Sophomore Jordan Roberts, in as a righty pinch hitter for Matthews, jacked two-run bomb in the fourth that put UF up 8-3. Freshman second baseman Hannah Adams followed suit with a solo homer to lead off the fifth, and all that was left was to determine how much longer the game would be played. As it turns out, not much longer. Georgia loaded the bases via three straight walks, allowed a run to score with a fourth and hit a batter to put Florida up 11-3, clinching the run-rule victory for the Gators.

Florida actually set a new NCAA single-season record for walks when junior left fielder Amanda Lorenz took a base on balls in the second. The Gators received eight free passes on the evening and now have 356 walks on the season, surpassing Auburn’s old record of 349 with at least a couple games remaining.

UF will face the winner of No. 3 UCLA vs. No. 6 Florida State on Friday night at 9:30 p.m. ET in a game that will air live nationally on ESPN.

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