No. 1 Florida softball's first win on Wednesday, a 7-1 rout of No. 5 Florida State in Tallahassee that featured two three-run innings, five extra-base hits, and 10 Delanie Gourley strikeouts, wasn't all that remarkable, because those wins have been a dime a dozen for the Gators in recent years. Florida entered Wednesday night with five wins over teams in the top eight of this week's RPI, after all.
The Gators' second win, though, was technically their first, a 12th-inning 1-0 triumph in the resumption of a game halted by rain in Gainesville back in April.
And it was a stirring one.
See, Florida had two runners on in the bottom of the ninth on April 13 in Gainesville when officials stopped play for rain that wasn't really impeding the scoreless game any more than it had already been for about 20 minutes until that point. That was seen as a reprieve for the Seminoles, who would get a fresh chance with a fresh pitcher at getting out of that jam.
And they did that on Wednesday night, with Jessica Burroughs — who had pitched on April 13, but was obviously working with a less-taxed arm in Tallahassee — striking out two batters after issuing an intentional free pass to walk the bases full to escape the ninth inning and .
FSU would also get the first runner in scoring position of the last three innings, as Carsyn Gordon took advantage of a fielder's choice to get on base, then stole second and took third on an extremely rare throwing error by Florida catcher Aubree Munro to set up the 'Noles with the go-ahead run on third and one out.
But, well, look at these two tweets:
T12: FSU has a runner on third with two outs......— Gator Softball (@GatorsSB) May 5, 2016
T12: ALESHIA!! Unfazed, Ocasio snares a line drive up the middle to end the inning!— Gator Softball (@GatorsSB) May 5, 2016
We're scoreless pic.twitter.com/y21FZXanYd
Aleshia Ocasio, who had been the holder of the nation's best ERA until last weekend, helped her cause with that sterling defense to keep the game scoreless headed to the bottom of the 12th.
Then, as the second hitter of that half-inning, she made herself its last.
Ocasio's walk-off homer to right gave Florida a 1-0 win over the 'Noles, and capped a fantastic game for her that also featured seven innings on the mound spread over two days almost a month apart in which she allowed one hit and one walk, . It was her first home run of the season and just the second of her Gators career, as Ocasio was used almost exclusively as a pitcher in her freshman season in 2015, posting a .212 batting average over 33 at-bats.
This year, however, Ocasio is hitting .389 in 18 at-bats, a clip that would be third on Florida's roster among regulars if she could sustain it. And given how she brought out the boomstick to broom the Seminoles, it stands to reason that she'll get a few more chances as the Gators roll toward what they hope will be a third straight national title.
A walk-off homer to beat the 'Noles — in Tallahassee, mind you, in a sport in which rules mean you usually can't walk off on the road — would probably seem far cooler and more relevant if this rivalry weren't of the hammer-and-nail variety: Florida has now won 16 of its last 17 softball games against FSU, and is 17-3 against the Seminoles under the stewardship of Tim Walton.
Yet Ocasio's homer made SportsCenter's Top 10 for Wednesday, sitting at No. 6.
So, yeah, it was a good night to be a Gator — much like every other one.