Saturday, February 17, 2018
Colleges

Softball: USF falls 3-0 to No. 1 Gators

GAINESVILLE — For a couple of junctures Wednesday, USF appeared on the verge of cracking the seemingly indomitable veneer of two-time reigning national champion Florida. Bases-loaded situation here, couple of singles there.

But in the end, the Bulls squandered all their opportunities and the Gators squashed a couple of theirs, including one over the fence in left-centerfield.

Freshman Amanda Lorenz's solo home run triggered a three-run outburst in the bottom of the fifth inning — all with two out — that propelled Florida to a 3-0 victory before a Pressly Stadium crowd of 729.

The triumph for the Gators (42-3), ranked No. 1 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll, not only snapped No. 20 USF's eight-game win streak but ended a string of 41 scoreless innings by Bulls pitchers.

Until Lorenz sent Erica Nunn's 3-and-1 pitch into the netting in front of the scoreboard, the Bulls' senior left-hander had allowed only two hits and struck out six against the eighth-best offense —in terms of on-base percentage — in the country. Nunn opened the fifth by fanning the first two batters on called third strikes.

"She's a bulldog, man," Bulls coach Ken Eriksen said.

"(Nunn) was doing a good job," Lorenz said. "I think a lot of us were just not getting our timing well. We weren't jumping on good pitches early and just letting her get ahead, so I think it just took us a little while to get comfortable."

Kayli Kvistad and Kirsti Merritt followed Lorenz's blast with consecutive singles, setting up sophomore Nicole DeWitt's two-run double that chased Nunn (22-7).

USF (39-11) managed only four hits off a trio of Gators pitchers, but it loaded the bases with one out in the top of the first inning off a walk, fielder's choice and error. But freshman right-hander Kelly Barnhill struck out Nunn and forced shortstop Mo Santos to ground into a forceout at third.

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