The softball exhibition between the Florida Gators and Team USA allowed the Gators to get a gauge on their season. Playing against a team that features three former Gators, Tim Walton’s club fell 4-0 on Tuesday night.
Any time you take on a team of former stars regardless of sport, it is tough competition.
Look no further than USA Softball pitcher Cat Osterman. Despite last playing college softball in 2006 with the Texas Longhorns, Osterman has not lost her touch or power.
Throughout the 5.2 innings pitched for Osterman in the exhibition, she allowed just four hits and a walk. To go along with that, eight Gators struck out facing the left-hander. Ally Carda replaced the starter in the bottom of the sixth inning, and allowed no hits on her four batters faced.
For the Gators batting, it was the usual suspects, just significantly subdued. Cheyenne Lindsey, Kendyl Lindaman, Charla Echols and Julia Cottrill each notched singles. However, the Gators never mustered anything on the bases.
Gator coach Tim Walton used the exhibition to try out different players and different pitchers. Rylee Trlicek started in the circle, but only pitched 1.2 innings. The sophomore did not allow a hit. Elizabeth Hightower then came in and pitched the bulk of the game for the Gators. Hightower yielded the first run in the fourth inning on Amanda Chidester’s double.
Haley Pittman replaced Hightower and struggled with two walks in the fifth inning. Natalie Lugo, another frequent starter, entered the circle for Pittman and gave up a heavy double. The bases-loaded double scored three and ballooned the lead to 4-0 in the fifth inning, a lead Team USA would not relinquish.
Technically, this is Florida’s second-straight loss. Officially, this game does not count against their record. This exhibition served as a test for Florida as they delve into the thick of their SEC schedule. For Team USA, this is the team that will represent the nation at the Olympics.
Fittingly, many of these players have played at the highest level for years. Team USA ranks number one in the world, whereas Florida ranks number five in college softball.
Florida’s lineup is full of players that could see themselves on that roster one day. After all, three former Gators were applauded during their at-bats on Tuesday despite playing for the opposition.
Even if the odds were stacked against them entering the game, Tim Walton liked the energy inside the dugout. Florida’s head coach usually resides on the third-base line while his team bats, but elected to remain in the dugout to gauge his players.
For one, the exhibition provides the opportunity for an already-dominant pitching staff to get more experience. This is especially important for underclassmen Rylee Trlicek and Haley Pittman. Walton says these players definitely have the talent, it is just a matter of getting innings under their belt.
The Gators can certainly grow from this exhibition. They struck out a season-high 11 times and only mustered four hits. But, at the same time, they only gave up five hits to the favorites to win Olympic Gold this summer in Tokyo. The Gators can build from this as their significant games become more frequent.
They can begin to make improvements Wednesday night when they host North Dakota. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. from Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.