Florida coach Tim Walton’s club seems to like to rally from behind in games. For the third-consecutive game, the Gators used an immediate comeback after falling behind. This time, it was to earn an SEC series victory over number nine Kentucky.
Gator starting pitcher Natalie Lugo dealt in her five innings in the circle. The senior gave up two hits. However, one of those hits was a blow to the chin of Florida.
Kentucky starting pitcher Grace Baalman blast over the Gator bullpen in left field provided the Wildcats an early 1-0 lead.
In the home-side of the third, a two-out rally by the Gators usurped the Wildcat lead. Avery Goelz’s single, Julia Cottrill’s double and Sarah Longley’s walk loaded the bases. Jaimie Hoover grounded into a fielder’s choice at home, but this brought the top of Florida’s lineup to the plate.
Cheyenne Lindsey pushed a slow ground ball to the Kentucky second baseman Lauren Johnson, but the ball skirted under the senior’s glove. Julia Cottrill and Sarah Longley scored and the Gators led.
Hannah Adams also contributed with a double to left field to plate Jaimie Hoover and give the Gators a 3-1 lead.
Katie Chronister relieved Natalie Lugo after five innings, but Chronister was not her automatic self. An error, a walk and a single loaded the bases with two outs in the top of the sixth. Last night’s winning pitcher, Elizabeth Hightower, entered the game to get the Gators out of the jam with a fly-out from Kentucky’s Autumn Humes.
The Gators would load the bases in the bottom half of the sixth with one out. However, Cheyenne Lindsey’s pop-out to third baseman Emmy Blane and Hannah Adams’s line drive to short prevented insurance runs.
The damage was done, and the Gators walked away victorious.
Rally from behind, again
Against Kennesaw State on Wednesday, a Charla Echols three-run homer propelled the Gators to victory after trailing in the third inning. Friday, in the series-opener against Kentucky, Kendyl Lindaman’s double provided a lead the Gators clung to after trailing 1-0. Today, it was an error.
The difference today was the back-end of the batting order. Usually, Hannah Adams, Charla Echols and Kendyl Lindaman provide the key hits to propel the Gators to a rally. Today, Florida’s five, seven and eight-hole hitters loaded the bases with one out.
Walton says in order for his team to meet their goals, everyone in the lineup needs to be consistent at the plate.
It also helps when the pitching shuts down the opposition to provide the bats time to wake up.
After giving up the home run, Lugo retired 10 consecutive batters to prevent any more damage on the scoreboard. The senior says she got in the right head space by trusting the powerful Gators offense.
Kentucky entered this series leading the SEC in a number of offensive categories. However, the Gators’ pitching staff limited the Wildcats to six hits in these two games.
Lugo says she and her teammates trust their stuff and the defense they have behind them to overcome opposition.
Series finale tomorrow
The number six Gators clinched their first SEC series of the season with today’s win. Also, they moved to 17-1 on the season. Number nine Kentucky now sits at 19-2 after their two games in Gainesville.
Tomorrow, the Gators look for the sweep and Kentucky looks for a consolation victory. First pitch is set for 1 p.m. from Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.