Ahead of his team’s game against UCF, Gator softball coach Tim Walton outlined several keys to the game. Among them was pitching. In their previous match up that UCF won on a walk-off home run, Walton said the Gators’ pitching was not at its best. He aimed for Wednesday night to be a turnaround game.
That did not happen. Conversely, it was the pitching for UCF that did the job. Combine a three-hit outing for Breanna Vasquez with an early, strong lead, this game was slanted from the jump.
In the end, number 23 UCF walked out of Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium 7-0 winners, completing the season sweep over fifth ranked Florida.
UCF Scores Early and Often
Beginning the game in the circle for the Gators was Katie Chronister. The left-handed fifth-year pitcher entered the game in solid form.
But four batters, four hits and four runs later, Rylee Trlicek replaced Chronister in the circle for the Gators. The damage came courtesy of a Shannon Doherty three-run home run in the first inning. Chronister forced no outs in the four batters she faced, with the Knights jumping on anything near the zone.
Trlicek would stop the bleeding, but UCF managed to bat around in the first inning.
Doherty caused more problems in the second inning with an RBI single to give UCF a 5-0 lead. Then in the following inning, Jazmine Esparza shot a ball over the left-field fence. UCF’s 7-0 lead through three innings made it clear that their win three weeks ago was no fluke.
The number 23 team in the nation pounced on a Florida pitching staff that entered the game in strong form. In fact, in their last five games on their record, the Gators conceded a total of six runs. Through three innings against the Knights, Tim Walton’s club conceded more.
Gator pitching gave up 10 hits to UCF, with Doherty accounting for three of them. Furthermore, pitching woes were not the only concern for Florida.
Breanna Vasquez Shuts Down Gators
Breanna Vasquez did not pitch for UCF when they edged the Gators in Orlando. Florida put up six hits and six runs in that game against the statistically better UCF pitchers. Vasquez came into Wednesday night’s game ranking third on UCF in terms of ERA, only starting three games.
She had undoubtedly her best game of the season against the Gators.
The significant number is obviously the zero in the run column. Notably, the Gators did not put a runner on third until the sixth inning. Charla Echols reached third only after a throwing error when UCF tried to turn a double play on a Kendyl Lindaman ground ball.
Vasquez only yielded three hits to Florida batters to go along with two walks and two hit batters. Still, nothing says dominance in the circle like eight strikeouts against a team averaging less than half of that per game (3.64 SO/game). Florida’s batters could not seem to figure out Vasquez’s off-speed pitching, yielding a handful of called strikeouts. The eight strikeouts are Vasquez’s season-high.
Walton called this week’s match ups his team’s toughest test of the season. UCF, despite being a top-25 team that already beat the Gators, was meant to be the easier of their two opponents.
Next up is a road series in Tuscaloosa against number three Alabama. Therefore, the road does not get any easier, and Florida has a tough task in bouncing back from this loss against UCF.
The first game in the Florida-Alabama series is scheduled for Friday night.