Hannah Adams rounds the bases after her solo home run in the bottom of the seventh of the Gators 4-2 loss against Kentucky. Photo courtesy @GatorsSB Twitter.

Despite Late Comeback, Softball Falls To Kentucky 4-2 in Series Finale

The sixth-ranked Gators Softball, trailing 2-0 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning, was being dominated by Kentucky pitching. With only two hits in the first five innings, the Gators came up in the bottom of the seventh with one last chance to tie the game. The Gators delivered.

Hannah Adams led off the inning with an opposite-field solo home run, cutting the Kentucky lead to 2-1. After two singles from Charla Echols and Avery Goelz, and Jordan Matthews drawing a two-out walk, Emily Wilkie stepped up to the plate with a chance to tie the game.

On a 1-0 pitch, the ball slid under the glove of the Kentucky catcher, allowing Katie Kistler to score from third and tie the game at two apiece. Now, Kistler had a chance to complete the comeback and sweep the first SEC series of the year for the Gators. On a 3-2 count, Kistler lined a ball to left-field, but Kentucky left-fielder Rylea Smith laid out in the outfield to make the catch, sending the game into extra innings.

In the ninth inning, Kentucky broke through, scoring two runs in the top of the inning to avoid the sweep and handing the Gators their second loss of the season 4-2.

“The grit was there,” head coach Tim Walton said. “I thought the determination was there. Unfortunately, we just didn’t play very good softball today. We had a lot of miscues and on the other side, they made some really nice plays. They earned that victory today to me.”

Up-And-Down Day for Gators Pitching

Elizabeth Hightower started in the circle for the Gators after coming off her complete game Friday and her save in Saturday’s game. Hightower made a mistake in the first inning, giving up a two-run home run over the right-center field wall, allowing the Wildcats to take a 2-0 lead. Hightower would settle down, pitching until the sixth inning, being taken out with no outs in the top of the sixth. Her final stat line was five innings pitched, giving up two earned runs and striking out three batters.

Natalie Lugo came on in relief and was able to set down the Wildcats until the top of the eighth inning. She ran into trouble in the eighth, giving up two singles to lead-off the inning. However, Lugo was able to battle back and get out of a bases-loaded jam with two outs. She struck out Autumn Humes looking, sending the game to the bottom of the eighth.

After walking the first batter in the top of the ninth and making a throwing error on the next play, Lugo’s day was done in the circle and Katie Chronoster entered, hoping to get the Gators out of another jam. Chronister was able to get the first out of the inning, but a single and an error allowed Kentucky to take the lead in the ninth inning 4-2. This score would hold, as the Gators went down easily in the bottom of the ninth, pushing the team to 17-2 on the season. Lugo would get the loss on the day, pitching three innings, giving up two earned runs, and walking four Wildcats.

Gators Bats Struggle

The Gators’ offense struggled against Kentucky starter Autumn Humes. The team was only able to get five hits, with only two of them coming off Humes. The Gators bats heated up in the seventh inning when Miranda Stoddard entered the game, but Humes reentered in the bottom of the seventh inning, where she shut down the Gators for the rest of the game. Earning her ninth win of the season in the circle, Humes helped improve the Wildcats record to 20-2 on the season.

Cheyenne Lindsey, Hannah Adams, Charla Echols, Avery Goelz, and Julia Cottrill were the five Gators to record a hit today, each getting one hit apiece.

Up Next

The Gators will take on Team USA in an exhibition game Tuesday at 6 pm. Three Gators will return to Katie Seashole Stadium, as Michelle Moultrie (2009-’12), Kelsey Stewart (2013-’16), and Aubree Munro (2013-16) will return to Gainesville where they played their college softball.

“I’m looking forward to playing a team like that,” Walton said. “We have a learning opportunity in front of us and we need to play with confidence, play to win, play loose, and just get after it.”

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