Charla Echols rips a double in Florida's 1-0 loss to Mississippi State Sunday. Courtesy: UAA

Florida Softball, Wallace Use Computer Lineup to Overpower UCF

Hannah Adams came into Wednesday having gone four games without a hit. In the sixth inning, she hit a home run to put down a final stomp over No. 20 UCF. The No. 7 Florida Gators won 10-3.

It all Began with a Delay

When the No. 7 Florida softball team (29-7) beat UCF 12-11 in late February, they were undefeated. Florida softball came into Wednesday’s rematch riding its first series loss of the season to Tennessee. One where they gout outscored 14-6.

Meanwhile, the Knights (27-5) entered Wednesday on an 18-game win streak. They also entered Gainesville via congested traffic on the way from Orlando. Hence, the game was delayed 45 minutes.

Seventeenth-year Florida head coach Tim Walton had told his team yesterday that they have to mentally prepare for anything.

He was happy with how his team adapted to the surprise delay courtesy of I-75.

Florida Gators Computer Generated Lineup

Something else different for Wednesday’s game is that Walton used a computer-generated lineup.

The lineup didn’t change personnel.

Skylar Wallace 30-for-30

Skylar Wallace served as the leadoff hitter Wednesday. After UCF pitcher Grace Jewell hit Wallace with a pitch to begin the game, Charla Echols soon batted her in with a double.

Something that helped get her home– she had already stolen second base. Wallace, who always has a green light to steal, moved to 30-for-30 on stolen bases this year.

Walton joked she receives the ESPN “30 for 30” nod.

Later in the first inning, Reagan Walsh earned herself a hit as the Knights centerfielder Johneisha Rowe attempted to save the ball in a diving catch but failed. Echols ran home.  Gators 2, UCF 0.

Scoring Spree

In the bottom of the second, Adams walked up to the plate with bases loaded. She didn’t get that illustrious hit, thanks to Rowe. Rather, she hit a sac fly that brought Avery Goelz (single) home.

She also set off a scoring spree for the Gators.

Cheyenne Lindsey got an RBI via an error. Soon, Katie Kistler and catcher Emilie Wilkie earned 2 RBIs apiece. Gators 8, Knights 1.

The chorus of la-la-la to the tune of “Deck the Halls” rang through the UCF dugout to begin the third inning. A few players got on base, but it wasn’t the Knights’ season– the Gators ended the effort courtesy of an Echols double play.

Come the bottom of the third inning, Adams got another chance for a hit. She hit an RBI, but again didn’t reach base, due to a fielder’s choice.  However, she batted in Wallace from the second base she stole… Gators 9, Knights 1.

Adams Finally Connects

Walton says Adams is a player who has her ups and downs– but she never stays down for too long.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, Adams finally got her hit. It was no less than a solo home over the 220-foot centerfield wall.

Florida Pitching

Starter Elizabeth Hightower said the delay changed preparation a little, but she was happy the Gators got to hang out in their locker room, rather than I-75.

The Knights first got on the board in the second inning when seventh-hitter Katie Burge hit a triple to bring Danali Schappacher (single) home.

Hightower walked two batters to start the fourth inning. Then sixth-hitter Danali Schappacher hit a triple to bring them home.

Walton said Hightower played well overall, but walking two batters in a row is an issue.

The senior pitcher said she’s enjoyed the midweek rivalry with UCF over the past four years.

Natalie Lugo took over for Hightower to begin the sixth inning. She made quick work of the inning via double play and a strikeout. Lugo and Florida collected three straight outs to end the game in the top of the seventh.

What’s Next

The Gators begin its third three-game SEC series on Friday at No. 17 Auburn. The first game will stream via SEC Network + at 7 p.m.

About Julianna Reichenbach

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