GAINESVILLE, Fla. –– The USA Softball Women’s National Team (WNT) defeated No. 5 Florida, 4-0, in their final game of the Clearwater, Fla. training session, which included seven games as part of the 2021 “Stand Beside Her” tour, presented by Major League Baseball (MLB). Despite a limited number of fans allowed in the stadium due to COVID-19 regulations, Gator alums Aubree Munro (Brea, Calif.), Kelsey Stewart (Wichita, Kan.) and Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) received warm welcomes from Gator Nation in their second return to Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium since their storied collegiate careers.
Cat Osterman (Houston, Texas) got the start in the circle for Team USA, totaling eight strikeouts in five innings before Ally Carda (Elk Grove, Calif.) took over pitching duties in the sixth inning and issued three strikeouts of her own. Ali Aguilar (Orangevale, Calif.) led the U.S. offense with a 2-for-4 performance at the plate, extending her hit-streak to four games with three RBIs. Also recording a hit was Amanda Chidester (Allen Park, Mich.), Janie Reed (Placentia, Calif.) and Hannah Flippen (San Diego, Calif.)
The offenses were stifled through the first three innings of the game with Team USA’s only base runners coming from two walks in the bottom of the second, while Osterman retired the first six Gator batters in order before allowing two runners to reach base in the top of third via a walk and a single. The U.S. offense came alive in the top of the fourth inning as Aguilar extended her hit-streak to four games with a leadoff single before advancing to second on a sacrifice bunt from Valerie Arioto (Pleasanton, Calif.) to put a runner in scoring position for Chidester. A laser down the left field line from Chidester would plate Aguilar, putting Team USA ahead, 1-0. The Florida offense looked to respond in the bottom of the frame with back-to-back singles putting runners in scoring position, but two fly outs and a strike out from Osterman would keep the Gator bats at bay.
Team USA tacked on three runs to their lead in the top of fifth as three-straight walks to Munro, Stewart and Haylie McCleney (Morris, Ala.) would load the bases for Aguilar, who blasted a ball off the center field fence to clear the bases and extend the U.S. lead, 4-0. Osterman kept dealing heat in the bottom of the frame, fanning two batters and forcing a fly out to send Team USA back to the plate. A leadoff walk from Moultrie followed by a double from Flippen would look to continue the offense, but two strikeouts and a ground out stranded the runners at second and third. The Gators looked to get on the board in the bottom of the frame as a single and back-to-back walks loaded the bases with two outs, but a strikeout from Carda, who entered the circle earlier in the inning, kept Florida scoreless.
A leadoff double from Reed in the top of seventh would put a runner in scoring position for Team USA, but two ground outs and a strikeout kept Reed from advancing, bringing Florida to their final at-bat of the game. Carda took care of the business in the bottom of the seventh, fanning two batters and forcing a ground out to seal the 4-0 shutout win for Team USA.