GEORGETOWN — Good Friday is a day off for many, but No. 15 Florence had to go to work.
The Lady Buffaloes showed up to the office early, did what they needed to do and went home to enjoy the remainder of their Easter weekend.
Emily Jo Gray threw a six-inning no-hitter while striking out 14, Bailey Owens and Hollie Ellis hit home runs, and Florence drubbed Georgetown Gateway 13-0 via the 10-run rule in the sixth inning.
“I told the kids this was kind of a trap game,” Lady Buffaloes head coach Brett Gola said, “being an away game on a holiday with an early start and everything. But any time we have Emily on the mound, we’ve got a good chance to win.
“All we’ve got to do is scratch one or two across, and we feel like we can win the ballgame. She was on today. She’s the queen of one-hitters, but for her to be able to pull a no-hitter here today, it’s a special thing.”
Only three runners reached for the Lady Gators — one on a walk and two on errors — and Gray started the game by striking out the first 11 hitters.
“I felt confident, and I just felt good,” Gray said. “Even though I was striking out people, there’s always that time when you don’t know if you’re going to strike out everybody. But you always have your team to back you up, and I always know they’re going to be there.
“I just try to go out there and do my best. I have the confidence that I can strike people out, but my teammates give me that boost, that confidence to go out there and do what I need to do.”
Hitting third, Gray also reached base all four times she stepped into the batter’s box. The senior singled three times and walked once, and the middle of Florence’s batting order took advantage.
Cleanup hitter Bailey Owens went 3 for 4 at the plate with a home run, two doubles, five RBIs and three runs scored.
“I had as much confidence as anyone could have today,” Owens said. “I knew we needed this win. I was here for my team.
“It was a good day, a good team win and everybody did good.”
Ellis’ home run, a two-run shot to left field in the top of the fourth, put the Lady Buffaloes (12-6-1, 9-1 District 25-3A) up 9-0. Ellis also walked and scored twice.
The runs started piling up in a hurry for Florence.
The Lady Buffaloes scored one in the top of first on an RBI double by Owens and two in the second on an error in right field off the bat of Madison Hill, which allowed China Galvan and Unique Rodriguez to score for an early 3-0 advantage.
Owens blasted a two-run homer to center for a 5-0 Florence lead in the third before the floodgates opened in the fourth.
Lexi Solis tallied an RBI groundout that allowed Hill to score, an error at third on a hard grounder by Owens allowed Bonnie Weidler to cross home for a 7-0 margin, and Ellis’ shot over the wall in left gave the Lady Buffaloes a nine-run cushion.
After going scoreless in the top of the fifth, Florence plated the final four runs of the game in the sixth.
Owens connected on a two-run double, Skylar Decker singled to right to plate Ellis, and Lainey Stone hit a sacrifice fly to right to score Owens.
The Lady Buffaloes entered the day tied atop the district with Blanco, whom they edged 13-10 on March 27. They are on a crash course to face one another Friday with the district title on the line, but Florence is focused on their game against Comfort on Tuesday at 6 p.m. first.
“Don’t get too comfortable,” Owens said. “I’m pretty confident about next week. We’ve got to come together and work hard, but I think we can do it.”
And Gola wants the team to stay focused.
“We need to recharge our batteries this weekend,” he said. “We’ve got a big night at home Tuesday against Comfort, which will be Senior Night.
“It’s always an emotional night with this special bunch we have, but we can’t overlook Tuesday and get too involved with the emotions of Senior Night.”