Florida softball (30-2, 7-1 SEC) was able to defend it’s home turf in a midweek battle against Bethune-Cookman (12-24, 3-0 MEAC) on Wednesday night. In what was possibly one of the longest lasting five inning games, the Wildcats brought their best to the game falling short, losing 15-7.
Freshman Katie Chronister got the start in the circle for the Gators for just the second time this year. In the first inning, the Gators played one of their sloppiest innings, giving up three runs and committing two errors. With one out and runners on second and third the Wildcats were able to strike first. Clean up hitter Kaitlin Alamprese hit a single to center field for the first RBI of the game. Runners were now on the corners for BCU with one out. On an attempted steal, shortstop Sophia Reynoso dropped the throw from catcher Jordan Roberts which allowed the second run to score. The next batter hit a grounder to second baseman Nicole DeWitt who committed her first error all season when she failed to field the ball. That error cost the Gators another run as they were down 3-0 to start the bottom of the first inning.
Florida responded with one of its strongest innings offensively, though. The Gators scored nine runs and each of them were scored with two outs. Roberts tied up the game with one swing as she hit a shot over center field that scored DeWitt and Kayli Kvistad. The freshman has five home runs on the season. Seniors Chelsea Herndon and Justine McLean each earned RBI with base hits at the bottom of the lineup to keep the inning alive. In her second at-bat of the inning, DeWitt hit a three-run home run to give Florida a 9-3 lead. Gator coach Tim Walton said he was proud with the way his team responded after being down in the first inning.
The Gators tacked on four more runs in the second inning. Roberts earned her fourth RBI of the night with a double down the left field line which allowed Aleshia Ocasio to score from first base. Kvistad also brought in a run with a single to right field as the bases were loaded with two outs.
Walton chose this game as an opportunity for many of the younger players to gain valuable experience. Sophomore Brooke Clemens got her first start of the season as the designated player. In the third inning, Clemens hit a line drive over the left field fence for her first career home run. Sophomore Lily Mann got her first hit of the season that inning when she came in the game for Herndon. Walton said that he saw promising things from the depth of his lineup in this game.
Just when it seemed like the Gator defense had settled in, B-CU caused more havoc, scoring four runs in the top of the fourth. The Wildcats produced a string of four singles in a row, followed by another error by Reynoso.
— Gators Softball (@GatorsSB) March 30, 2017
After giving up the potential run-rule lead, Florida earned it back in the bottom of the fourth. Jacqui Switzer led of the inning with a bunt, worked her way around the bases and was able to score on a passed ball which gave the Gators their 15th run.
Kelly Barnhill would relieve Chronister in the top of the fifth. Barnhill struck out the side, not allowing BCU any more chances for a comeback.
Florida will be on the road this weekend for their next SEC series; they will play Arkansas starting Friday night in Fayetteville.