Scott Stricklin

Gator Softball Bounces Back in Victory Over UC Riverside

The number three Gator softball team took down University of California, Riverside on Friday 7-0 in a tournament out in California. This was Florida’s second game of the weekend in the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic in Palm Springs.

The Gators cruised to victory after scoring five runs in the first inning. Elizabeth Hightower threw a complete game shutout for Florida, allowing just five hits in seven innings.

This was a big bounce-back win for the Gators after being no-hit in their first loss of the season Thursday to top-ranked UCLA.

With the victory, Florida improved its record to 11-1 on the season while Riverside fell to 6-8.

Big First Inning for Gators

Hightower started off hot in the circle for Florida. After giving up a leadoff single to Riverside second baseman Lauryn Garewal, the right-hander got the next three batters out, stranding Garewal at third.

The Gator bats came to life in the bottom of the first. Left fielder Kendra Falby led off the inning with an infield single. She stole second base and advanced to third on a throwing error from Highlanders catcher Jackie Alday. With Falby in scoring position, Sam Roe lined one into center for an RBI single and put the Gators on the board first.

Charla Echols was then walked and Reagan Walsh was hit by a pitch. This loaded the bases for Gator designated player Olivia Gigante, who drew a walk to bring home Florida’s second run. Avery Goelz was up next and extended the Gator lead. She hit a liner to left field that scored Echols and Walsh to give Florida a four-run advantage.

In the inning, Florida brought 11 batters to the plate and five of them scored. They had four hits, two walks and a hit by pitch to lead 5-0 after one.

Florida Adds More

After Hightower got Gianna Araki to ground into a double-play to end the top of the second, the Gators came to the plate hungry for more.

Echols led off the home second for Florida with a base hit to left field. Walsh followed with an opposite-field single. She had a big night at the plate, going 3 for 3, all singles, and reached all four times up.

After the Walsh single, Gigante drew a walk to load the bases with nobody out. Goelz then reached on a fielder’s choice as she grounded back to the pitcher who got Echols out on the force at home.

With the bases still loaded, Kaila Pollard drove a double down the right field line that plated two.

After two innings, the Gators led 7-0, which was the score at the end of the game.

Hightower Shines

Hightower has been dealing the first two weeks of the season for the Gators and was no different against Riverside. She allowed no more than one hit in any inning as she shut down Highlander hitters all night.

She struck out two in seven shutout innings, giving up five hits and two walks on just 85 pitches.

Hightower is now 6-0 on the season. She’s thrown 27.1 innings, given up just one unearned run, struck out 25 and walked eight in her six appearances.

Gator Doubleheader Saturday

After the 7-0 victory over Riverside, the Gator softball team will play two games on Saturday to close out the tournament.

Florida will take on Oregon at 1 p.m. and Cal State Fullerton right after at 3:30.

About Hugh Green

Hugh is a third year student majoring in Journalism: Sports and Media at the University of Florida.

Check Also

SEC Softball Midseason Overview: League Is Dominant

Elite teams have started to separate themselves from the competition entering the halfway point of …