OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Florida coach Tim Walton has a simple mentality when it comes to winning games – if the other team doesn’t score, his team can’t lose.
For the school-record 40th time this season, the Gators made his simple concept look brilliant. Kelly Barnhill threw a two-hitter with eight strikeouts in top-seeded Florida’s 7-0 victory over LSU on Friday night in the Women’s College World Series.
“I know it sounds silly, but it’s obvious,” he said. “When our pitching staff shuts people out, we win. I’m really proud of not only their preparation and their work ethic, but their confidence in not only themselves, their catcher, their defense and our pitching coach.”
Barnhill (26-3), USA Softball’s Player of the Year, helped put the Gators (57-8) within a victory Sunday of a spot in the championship series.
Barnhill threw four scoreless innings in an 8-0 victory over Texas A&M on Thursday. She was more relaxed against LSU.
“Didn’t have quite as many butterflies as yesterday with the first start in the arena with so many people out there, but I just really tried to go out there and just play pitch by pitch,” she said.
LSU coach Beth Torina said she liked how her team battled against Barnhill, who has pitched 11 scoreless innings at the World Series.
“I think we were excited about the opportunity to face Kelly Barnhill tonight,” Torina said. “We watch her on TV all the time. You’re excited for the opportunity. That’s why we came, right? To play the best. I think our team fought hard, and it just didn’t seem to happen or all come together for us.”
Chelsea Herndon doubled to score two in the top of the fourth. Janell Wheaton hit a solo homer in the top of the sixth and Kayli Kvistad hit a two-run homer in the seventh.
Aleshia Ocasio made perhaps the play of the game in the second inning when she ran into foul territory and caught a fly ball as she fell over a barrier.
Walton’s pitching staff is set up for the long haul. The Gators didn’t even use Delanie Gourley, an All-American who is among the nation’s leaders in earned run average. And the Gators would have to lose twice on Sunday to be eliminated.
“The greatest position to be in in the College World Series is be on an off day on Saturday,” Walton said.
LSU starter Carley Hoover (15-8) allowed two runs in five innings, and Allie Walljasper struggled in relief. The Tigers (48-21) will play in an elimination game Saturday.
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