A weather delay only delayed the inevitable for Florida’s softball game Friday.
The No. 1-seeded Gators scored seven runs in the third inning and rode a five-inning no-hitter by Delanie Gourley to handle Florida A&M 9-0 in UF’s first game of the NCAA Gainesville Regional.
Lightning and rain caused the game to be delayed for 1:44 — longer than the 94 minutes it took to play the game — after both teams were introduced to the crowd of 1,151 at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.
“The frustrating part of that is to get through the whole entire warmup process and then — boom — you got a delay,” said Florida coach Tim Walton. “It’s frustrating but that’s the unique part of being an outside sport. You have to be ready for anything.”
FAMU wasn’t ready for Gourley (19-4), who allowed only one base runner on a third-inning walk.
“The change-up was backing up,” Walton said. “There were pitches that looked hard and fell off the table.”
Gourley struck out eight in pitching her second postseason five-inning no-no. The other came against FAMU in her freshman season. The shutout was the 11th straight in regional action for the Gators and Gourley became the third pitcher in NCAA history to throw multiple postseason no-hitters.
“The night of the selection show, we were watching it and we wanted that night to play,” said the senior lefty. “It seemed like a week that took forever.”
Florida will face Oklahoma State at noon today with the winner advancing to play Sunday in the winner’s bracket. The loser will have to return to play an elimination game later this afternoon.
Florida International (45-14) and FAMU (23-31-1) will play an elimination game today 30 minutes after the first game.
Florida (51-6) got a leadoff homer from Amanda Lorenz, her 10th of the year, to start out with a lead. Lorenz actually popped out in foul territory but FAMU starter Kenya Pereira was called for an illegal pitch.
“I didn’t (know the pitch was illegal), but once I got to first coach told me and I was, ‘Thank goodness,’ “ Lorenz said. “I wish I could tell you I knew it was an illegal pitch and that’s why I swung at it.”
Pereira had several more called on her before exiting with two on and no out for UF in the bottom of the third.
“We had to laugh it off to keep our composure,” Pereira said. “We thought, ‘Well, we know how the game was going to go.’ “
Once Pereira was pulled, it didn’t get better for the Rattlers.
New pitcher Veronica Burse gave up a two-run triple to Janell Wheaton, then walked the bases loaded. Justine McLean’s bouncing single up the middle scored two runs — one of them when FAMU catcher Miesha McBride was called for obstruction of home plate — and Lorenz brought another home with a sharp single to center.
Nicole DeWitt’s sacrifice fly off Pereira, who re-entered the game in the circle, put Florida in run-rule territory with an 8-0 lead.
Pinch-hitter Jordan Roberts ripped a double off the wall to score another run in the fourth.
“I thought our bats were really good,” Walton said. “It was good to get off to a start the right way.”
In the first game of the day, a former Gator beat a Gator.
Kenny Gajewski’s Oklahoma State team, now 36-23, scored two runs in the bottom of the sixth to top Gator Rebhan’s FIU team 2-0.
Gajewski was an assistant at Florida when the Gators won back-to-back national titles in 2014 and ’15.
“It’s been kinda cool (to be back),” he said. “I wanted to get these kids here as early as we could to get them acclimated. This is a special place to me. I wanted them to see that our time here was really cool but this is their time.
“It was neat to walk on the field for the first time. You see things on the outfield wall and it’s cool to have been a part of that.”
That win sets up today’s game against his former boss.
“I’m sure I’m not going to get any congratulatory text and see you tomorrow,” Walton said. “His dad already has though.”
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.