Hailey Raulerson’s pitch was high and outside — level with the the orange “14” stitched on Jordan Roberts’ blue jersey. And a short time after it left the hand of Raulerson, the ball was sailing over the grass of Katie Seashole Pressley Stadium.
It left the yard and neared Museum Drive, the road that runs behind the centerfield wall.
As Roberts rounded the bases, lead-off hitter Hannah Adams and Charla Echols crossed home plate.
With the three-run homer, not only did Roberts crush her fourth home run in three days, but she also sparked the inning that blew the game wide open — the first inning.
Roberts finding her groove in the last stretch of games is no surprise to Tim Walton, who said she was “lighting up” Florida’s staff of pitchers in practice.
But on Wednesday night, it was Florida’s entire lineup who lit up UNF’s pitchers in a 10-2 run-rule victory to help the No. 8-ranked Gators improve to 5-1.
Following Roberts’ home run, pitching woes continued to plague the University of North Florida Ospreys.
Raulerson’s last pitch of the evening walked Jordan Matthews to first. And the Ospreys’ relief, Alyssa Dyhr, allowed her first batter, Jade Caraway, to knock a double over the head of third base.
With two runners in scoring position, freshman Julia Cottrill scored Matthews on an RBI-single to make the lead 4-0 in favor of the Gators.
Sophia Reynoso’s fly-out to left field allowed Caraway to score, followed by a base-hit from Cheyenne Lindsey to load the bases.
Hannah Adams would later earn a bases-loaded walk to score Cottrill and Kendyl Lindaman would ground out in sacrifice of Reynoso scoring.
When all was said and done and Charla Echols flew out for the final out to end the first inning, the Gators found themselves ahead 7-0.
Playing to entertain
Prior to the season, Walton admitted that in the past, his team might not have been the most entertaining to watch for the “casual fan”. A stingy defense and excellence in the circle was Florida’s focus. Now, the Gators are shifting their play-style to a more offensive-driven approach — evident by Wednesday’s lopsided victory over the Ospreys.
However, becoming entertaining doesn’t mean that that the Gators have to walk away from their bread and butter.
In Wednesday’s win, redshirt senior Sophia Reynoso intiated two double-plays that helped to keep her team energized.
From within the circle on Wednesday night, the Gators neither shined nor disappointed. But Rylee Trlicek and Elizabeth Hightower, who split pitching duties in the five inning game, got the job done.
Trlicek pitched the majority on Wednesay while giving up six hits and two runs while facing 14 batters. Hightower, who came in for relief in the top of the fourth, faced seven batters and allowed no hits.
But just as Walton and his staff prepared for this season, Florida’s busy bats are what ultimately stuck out on Wednesday night.
Alongside Jordan Roberts’ long shot in the first inning, freshman Julia Cottrill also went 3-3 from the plate with two RBIs. Cheyenne Lindsey also battled for two hits in the win.
— Gators Softball (@GatorsSB) February 13, 2020
Collectively, the Gators amassed 11 hits on 22 at-bats.
Coming up next for the Gators, they host the Bubly Invitational that stretches the course of Friday-Sunday this weekend. Florida will face North Dakota State on Friday at 4:30 in the opening game of the six-game slate.