GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Another NCAA Tournament game, another Florida softball shutout. This time, it was sophomore Kelly Barnhill going the distance in the top-seeded Gators’ 2-0 win over Oklahoma State on Saturday at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.
Barnhill allowed just 4 baserunners in 7 innings on a hit, 2 walks and a hit by pitch while striking out 15 batters to put Florida (52-6) one win away from advancing to the super regionals for the fifth straight year. She had a no-hitter through 5 2/3 innings before Oklahoma State’s Taylor Lynch ripped a two-out single that skirted the right-field line.
“Giving up 1 hit, it happens to everyone in the game,” Barnhill said. “So just coming back, you have to go pitch-by-pitch and get the next batter.”
With the win, Barnhill improves to 23-1 on the year and her nation-leading ERA is now just 0.31.
Barnhill’s performance followed up Delanie Gourley’s 5-inning no-hitter against Florida A&M on Friday to open postseason play and extends the Gators’ shutout streak in NCAA regionals to 12 games dating back to the 2013 season.
All of Florida’s offense came in the fourth inning. After loading the bases with two outs on a Nicole DeWitt walk, a Kayli Kvistad single and a Jordan Roberts hit-by-pitch, junior Aleshia Ocasio ripped a 1-2 pitch to left field for a 2-RBI single. It was 1 of just 3 hits the Gators recorded off Oklahoma State ace Brandi Needham, who threw a complete-game shutout against Florida International on Friday.
“Overall, we did enough to win,” Florida coach Tim Walton said. “We can all sit here and be critical about how many hits we had or how many runs we scored, but in postseason softball, the only thing that matters is the W.”
Oklahoma State (36-24) threatened to score in the sixth after a two-out walk and Lynch’s single, but Barnhill struck out Madi Sue Montgomery on 3 pitches to get out of the jam.
Florida will play Oklahoma State again on Sunday at noon ET for a chance to advance to the super regional next week. The Cowgirls advanced out of the loser’s bracket with a 5-0 win over Florida International later Saturday afternoon. UF needs just one win to advance. Should Florida drop the first game Sunday, a winner-take-all game will be played about 30 minutes after the first game’s conclusion.