Ocasio hits, pitches Florida past Georgia in WCWS opener
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Aleshia Ocasio came through again, as she often has during her Florida career.
The senior hit a three-run homer and pitched a complete game to help Florida beat Georgia 11-3 in five innings Thursday in the Women’s College World Series.
Ocasio gave up three runs and seven hits and allowed Florida coach Tim Walton to save ace pitcher Kelly Barnhill. Hannah Adams had two hits, including a solo homer and Jordan Roberts had a two-run blast for the second-seeded Gators (56-9).
”I think, the one thing that I praise our coaches and our staff is to do the best job they can and know our personnel,” Walton said. ”We felt like Aleshia was the best match-up with Georgia swingers. Her athleticism in the circle, a lot of things led to that decision.”
Ocasio improved to 23-7 for the season. It was the 71st pitching win of her career.
Ocasio got help from her teammates. Roberts entered the game as a pinch hitter for Jordan Matthews and delivered the homer in the fourth inning.
”I’ve thought about this since I was a little girl,” Roberts said. ”It’s just awesome to be able to answer to the call. My dad texts me every day before the game and says just be ready, be ready to answer to the call. And that’s what I did. I’m just happy to be able to help out my team.”
Alyssa DiCarlo and Justice Milz hit home runs for Georgia (48-12). DiCarlo, whose homer was her 21st of the season, had three hits.
Georgia won two of the three games in the regular season in the series between SEC rivals.
”We see each other a lot, so it can be either good or bad,” DiCarlo said. ”It’s really just about who shows up to play on any given day. They had more moments than us today.”
Georgia led 2-0 before Florida responded with five runs in the bottom of the first, highlighted by Ocasio’s blast.
”I thought the tempo of that first inning was really important to be able to get us back confident out there on defense with a three-run lead,” Walton said. ”That was huge.”
Florida scored another in the second, two in the fourth, then three in the fifth to end the game.
Georgia used four pitchers and didn’t get more than 2 1/3 innings from any of them. The Bulldogs face elimination on Saturday.
”I do think there were some nerves that happened within the game,” Georgia coach Lu Harris-Champer said. ”You know, it’s over now. We move forward. Florida played a great game. You’ve got to give them credit, and we’ve got to do better and we will.”
Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP .