GAINESVILLE, Fla. — After Florida softball pitcher Delanie Gourley struck out Florida A&M’s Kenya Pereira to close out the Gators’ 9-0 win, she walked over to her teammates with an ear-to-ear grin. It came with good reason.
The senior left-handed pitcher shook off a 1 hour, 46 minute weather delay before the game by throwing the fifth no-hitter of her career and her second of the season. Gourley and the top-seeded Gators (51-6) routed Florida A&M (23-31-1) in 5 innings to begin NCAA Tournament play on Friday at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.
Gourley struck out 8 batters in the win. Her lone blemish was a leadoff walk in the third inning. She is now 19-4 on the season and her ERA dropped three points to 0.74. She only needed 58 pitches to secure the win.
“Everything felt really good,” Gourley said. “From the first warming up and then after the break warming up again, I felt good. It was all really smooth.”
Gourley now owns both of Florida’s postseason no-hitters. The first, coincidentally, was also 5-inning win over Florida A&M to open NCAA Tournament play in 2014. She was a freshman making her first career postseason appearance.
Florida’s offense gave its pitcher all the run support she needed in the first three innings. Sophomore outfielder Amanda Lorenz belted a leadoff home run in the bottom of the first.
Lorenz was initially ruled out during the at-bat when a Florida A&M defender caught a pop-up in foul territory, but the home plate umpire called an illegal pitch which kept Lorenz’s at-bat alive. Lorenz didn’t know it was an illegal pitch until assistant coach Sharonda McDonald told her as she jogged to first base.
“I was like, ‘Thank goodness,’ ” Lorenz said. “I was happy. I wish I could say I knew when I swung.”
One pitch later, she hit a shot to center field for her 10th home run of the season.
From there, the Gators scored 7 runs on 5 hits and 4 walks in the third inning to push the game into run-rule territory. Florida added a ninth run in the fourth on an RBI double from pinch-hitter Jordan Roberts, who scored pinch-runner Jacqui Switzer.
Lorenz and catcher Janell Wheaton both had 2 hits and 2 RBIs. Outfielder Justine McLean also drove in a pair of runs.
“Our at-bats were good,” Florida coach Tim Walton said. “We were very consistent, very poised. I thought the overall presence at the plate was really good.”
With the win, Florida advances to the winner’s bracket and will face Oklahoma State at noon on Saturday. The Cowgirls (36-23), led by second-year coach and former Florida assistant Kenny Gajewski, defeated Florida International 2-0 in the first game of the day.