Gators head coach Tim Walton gives a thumbs up to his team from the dugout during the series against Mississippi State. The Gators took the series against the Bulldogs. Credit @GatorsSB via Twitter

Gator Softball Beats UAB as Tim Walton Gets 900th Win at Florida

The Gator softball team defeated the UAB Blazers Friday night 9-0 in Birmingham, giving Tim Walton his 900th win as the coach of the Gators.

Elizabeth Hightower tossed a complete-game shutout in the circle for Florida. This was the 18th such game of her illustrious career. Skylar Wallace had herself a night at the plate as she went 3 for 3 with five RBI, including a three-run home run. Four other Gators combined for the rest of the nine runs batted in.

After a tough weekend in California, the Gators bounced back in a big way on Friday. This was the first of a three-game series at Mary Bowers Field. Florida took this one quickly as they won in a five-inning run rule that lasted just over an hour and a half.

With the win, the Gators improved their record to 12-3 on the year while the Blazers fell to 10-8.


Walton’s 900th Gator Win

Walton, who is in his 18th season as the head coach at Florida, has had an unbelievable tenure with the Orange & Blue. He now has a record of 900-204 (.815) as Florida’s coach and a 1,023-268 (.792) overall record as a head coach, which includes his three seasons with Wichita State from 2003-2005.

Last season, Walton became the second fastest in NCAA Division 1 history to reach 1,000 wins as a head coach.

He has led Florida to eight regular season SEC titles, 11 Women’s College World Series appearances (four No. 1 seeds) and back-to-back national championships in 2014 and 2015.

Walton’s players have earned many honors while at Florida. This includes 33 All-SEC selections and three SEC Player of the Year awards (2012 – Michelle Moultrie, 2015 – Kelsey Stewart, 2018 – Amanda Lorenz).


Gators Breeze Past Blazers

As for Friday night’s game itself, Florida handled UAB with their ace in the circle.

Hightower tossed a gem for the Gators. The graduate right-hander threw all five innings, giving up just four hits, walking three and striking out one. She now has a 7-2 record on the season. In her seven wins, Hightower has not allowed an earned run.

On the offensive side, Florida was hot all night long.

In the top of the first, Charla Echols came to the plate with runners on second and third and one out. She flew out to left field that drove home Kendra Falby to give the Gators an early advantage.

Florida blew the game wide open in the second inning. Sarah Longley got it going with a double down the left field line that chased in Katie Kistler to make it 2-0. Two batters later, Wallace stepped up with runners on the corners and blasted one over the left field fence for a three-run shot that gave the Gators a five-run lead.

Florida poured it on in the fourth. The first six batters of the inning reached base. Falby walked with the bases loaded to bring home the first run of the inning. Wallace then added to her huge night with a single up the middle that drove in Longley and Kaila Pollard. These were her fourth and fifth RBI of the night and her 18th and 19th RBI of the season, which leads the team.

Hightower closed out the Blazers in the bottom of the fifth. She allowed one hit in the inning, but stranded the runner at first to end the game.

Florida won by a final score of 9-0.

Two Games Left in UAB Series

The Gator softball team will face off against UAB twice more in their three-game series. Florida is now 5-0 all-time against the Blazers. First pitch in Game two is set for 1 p.m. Saturday and Game three on Sunday at 11 a.m.

About Hugh Green

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

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