TAMPA — Hair splitters will insist that the 2016 version of the Florida softball team technically isn't a defending national champion because no two squads are identical.
But the top-ranked one that steamrolled four opponents at the USF Softball Stadium over the weekend provided a pretty stunning likeness to the 2015 titlist.
Florida, its lineup boasting eight players who started in June's national title-clinching win against Michigan, exploited woeful Bulls pitching in a five-inning, 11-1 triumph against USF (1-4) before a standing-room-only crowd Sunday. Total announced attendance for the day's four games was 2,089.
"You've got to be able to attack a good team, you can't give them freebies," said USF coach Ken Eriksen, who watched four of his pitchers combine for 10 walks and two hit batters. "With a powerful lineup like that, you can't give them extras, you can't extend the innings offensively to them."
The mercy-rule rout capped a veritable four-game weekend clinic for the Gators (4-0), who defeated four teams in the USF-Wilson DeMarini Tournament by a combined margin of 38-1.
USF collected its solitary run in the third inning when freshman Lindsey Devitt walked, reached third on two wild pitches and scored on Juli Weber's single.
Gators sophomore Janell Wheaton, who finished the weekend with nine RBIs, collected five against USF. Wheaton hit a fourth-inning solo home run to left-centerfield, added a two-run double in the fifth and finished a triple shy of the cycle.