The Florida Gator softball team took care of Jacksonville University Tuesday night. Florida followed up a fantastic first weekend of the season with a 13-2 victory against the Dolphins. The Gators have now outscored their opponents 54-4 in their first four games.
Florida scored 13 runs on 10 hits and the Dolphins had two runs on just one hit. It was a very well-played game defensively as neither team had an error in the field.
With the win, Florida improves to 4-0 while Jacksonville falls to 3-2.
Gators Jump Ahead Early
The Gators were able to take an early lead on the Dolphins in their dominant victory. Jacksonville starting pitcher Ashlee Harwood struggled in her short outing. She surrendered four walks and one hit-batter in the opening inning. After a walk to Reagan Walsh, Harwood threw a wild pitch that allowed Baylee Goddard to come home for the first run of the ballgame.
On the other side, Florida’s starter, Elizabeth Hightower, had herself a night in the circle. In the bottom of the first, she retired the side in order, striking out two. She matched that line in the second, and had a perfect game through three. In four innings of work, Hightower gave up just one hit and struck out five without allowing a run.
B1 | Hightower retires the side 1-2-3 and strikes out a pair! #GoGators
UF – 1 | JU – 0 pic.twitter.com/Vl76vRTz6g
— Gators Softball (@GatorsSB) February 14, 2023
After a Sarah Longley walk and a Kendra Falby single, Goddard came to the plate with one out in the second. On an 0-2 pitch, she mashed a no-doubt three-run home run to left center field to put the Gators up four. Jacksonville pitching was unable to get Goddard out all night. In her four plate appearances, she went 1-1 with three hit-by-pitches.
The Dolphins went down one-two-three in the top of the third to bring Florida’s bats back to the plate leading 4-0. The Gators opened up a big lead in the bottom half. Skylar Wallace and Charla Echols hit back-to-back blasts to extend the lead to eight. Wallace finished the night with a team-leading four runs batted in. Echols also had a productive game a the plate, going 2-3 with the solo home run and a walk.
T3 | BACK-to-BACK‼️ Echols sends a towering shot over the wall down the right field line for a solo homer! #GoGators
UF-8 | JU-0 pic.twitter.com/jCftuVQdyv
— Gators Softball (@GatorsSB) February 15, 2023
Florida Cruises to Victory
After coming on for one out in the third, Jacksonville’s Shelby Harpe struggled in the next frame. She gave up back-to-back hits to lead off the inning, including a double from Avery Goelz. Harpe then allowed the next four batters to reach base with two walks and two hit batsmen. These free passes drove home four Gators and drove Harpe out of the game.
The Gators tacked on two more runs in the inning on an RBI fielder’s choice from Wallace and a sacrifice fly from Walsh. At the end of four, Florida led 13-0.
Florida was held scoreless in the top of the fifth as Jacksonville were down to their final three outs. The Gators brought in Samantha Bender to close it out. She did not see the same success Hightower did, however. Bender surrendered three walks in her inning of work, and also hit a batter.
After two runs scored for the Dolphins, Madison Reynolds came up as their last chance. She hit a rope to Sam Roe at second base, who made a diving stop and threw over to first to end the game and secure the 13-2 victory for the Gators.
Home Opener Wednesday
The Gator softball team will square off against Jacksonville again on Wednesday; this time in Gainesville. This will be Florida’s first game at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium this season. First pitch is set for 6 pm.