The fifth-ranked Florida softball team led 6-5 going into the bottom of the seventh inning against the 22nd ranked UCF Knights. Elizabeth Hightower, the Gators’ star pitcher throughout the year with a 10-0 record coming into the game, looked to close out the Knights in the bottom of the inning. But Hightower ran into trouble in the inning, giving up the tying run on a RBI double to left-center field, tying the game at six apiece.
Looking to push the game into extra innings, Hightower was able to get a pop-up to the shortstop, earning the first out of the inning. However, Karrissa Ornelas spoiled the Gators’ chances for extra innings, hitting a walk-off home run on a 2-2 count, handing the Gators their third loss of the season and Hightower’s first loss in the circle. UCF won the game 8-6.
A Back-and-Forth Affair
The Gators and Knights battled it out for seven innings, with each team failing to pull away throughout the game. Both teams had high-scoring third innings, keeping the game close.
The Knights struck the scoreboard first, after Georgia Blair hit a run scoring double to right-center field, putting the Knights ahead 1-0. Both teams would remain scoreless until the third inning.
The Gators responded with a five-run third inning, allowing the team to take a 5-1 lead heading to the bottom of the third. Charla Echols and Kendyl Lindaman each had RBI doubles in the inning. Echols’s double scored one run while Lindaman’s scored two runs. A bases-loaded walk and a sacrifice fly were the additional two runs scored in the inning, giving the Gators a four-run advantage.
T3 | Cottrill gets ahold of the offering from White and that goes down the left field line for a two-RBI double that scores Echols and A. Goelz‼️
Gators 4 | UCF 1 pic.twitter.com/TNpKBv6DYx
— Gators Softball (@GatorsSB) March 24, 2021
But the Knights answered with a four-run inning of their own, tying the game at five apiece. Back-to-back home runs and a sacrifice fly highlighted the scoring for the Knights in the inning. The game would remain knotted at 5-5 until the sixth inning.
Gators Take Lead in the Sixth; Can’t Hold On in the Seventh
With the game still tied at five in the top of the sixth inning, the Gators came up to bat looking to take the lead. Julia Cottrill led off the inning with a single and Katie Kistler was brought in to pitch run for Cottrill. An error and single on the next two batters brought up Hannah Adams with the bases loaded and no outs. Adams was able to drive Kistler home on another sacrifice fly, putting the Gators in front 6-5. However, UCF was able to get out of the inning with only one run allowed.
T6 | Adams comes through with a SAC fly into foul territory to score Hoover and the Gators take the lead‼️ #GoGators
Gators 6, UCF 5 pic.twitter.com/wLdXDWftGK
— Gators Softball (@GatorsSB) March 25, 2021
A scoreless bottom of the sixth and top of the seventh brought the Knights to the plate with one more chance to tie or win the game in the bottom of the seventh. The Knights came through, as Jada Cody tied the game with a double, and Ornelas ended the game on the two-run walk-off home run. The game dropped the Gators to 21-3 (5-1 SEC) and improved the Knights to 20-6.
The Gators will continue SEC play this weekend, hosting the 13th ranked LSU Tigers in a three-game series. Game one of the series begins at 5 pm on Friday at home.