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No. 3 Gators softball defeats No. 1 FSU in walk-off fashion

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-Photos by Jordan McPherson

GAINESVILLE

Florida's Kayli Kvistad drove a two-out, seventh-inning pitch straight to right field. Teammate Justine McLean, standing on second in a scoreless game with top-ranked Florida State, knew it just needed to fall.

As soon as it hit the grass, the speedy McLean rounded third and darted toward home plate without a second thought. She ran past home plate and clapped twice. Her teammates ran out of the dugout. 

Kvistad's walk-off single scored McLean and clinched the Gators' 1-0 win over the Seminoles on Wednesday night in front of a Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium crowd of 2,574.

"Justine's one of our fastest players," Kvistad said. "... She can score on almost anything to the outfield."

After six innings dominated by both pitching staffs, the Gators (38-2) found life late.

McLean started it off with a one-handed bunt single down the third-base line, beating the throw by a half step and flipping the lineup. Amanda Lorenz moved her into scoring position with a groundout. After Nicole Dewitt drew a two-out walk, Kvistad battled FSU's Meghan King and ripped a 2-1 pitch to right field to clinch it.

"Honestly, if you ask me where I want to be at the end of the game, I want to be at the top of the lineup," UF coach Tim Walton said. "I thought it was huge."

Sophomore Kelly Barnhill earned the win after tossing a pair of scoreless innings to close out the game. She improved to 16-0 on the season, struck out three batters and dropped her ERA to 0.27. Her lone blemish was a two-out walk in the sixth.

Senior lefty Delanie Gourley opened the game with five scoreless innings, scattering just four hits while striking out seven.  

Gourley gave up three hits in the top of the first, but her defense and an FSU miscue kept the Seminoles  (38-2-1) scoreless.

DSC_5628First it was a double play. As Gourley threw a third strike to FSU's Alex Powers, Morgan Klaevemann left first base early and was ruled out.

Next, it was a throw home. With Jessica Warren on second after hitting a double and Ellie Cooper flaring a single to left field, Florida's Amanda Lorenz scooped up a ball and fired it home. Catcher Janell Wheaton grabbed the throw and tagged Warren for the inning-ending out. 

Gourley walked up to Lorenz. She was speechless.

"I couldn't even cheer afterward," Gourley said. "I was standing there as she threw it and was like 'Get her out. Get her out. Get her out.'"

Gourley allowed just one baserunner in her next four inning and only allowed one runner to make it into scoring position. 

Florida, on the other hand, squandered a pair of opportunities late.

In the fifth, the Gators had runners on second and third with two outs after a wild pitch. Kvistad flew out to left field to strand them both.

In the sixth, pinch-runner Jacqui Switzer made it from first to third after an Aleshia Ocasio groundout and a wild pitch. Chelsea Herndon hit a lineout to left field to keep the game scoreless heading to the seventh before Kvistad hit her game winner.

"Kayli saved the game once again," McLean said. "When I was rounding third, they were like 'up, up, up.' I was like, 'Yeah. We won.'"

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