Gators pitcher Lexie Delbrey (16) struck out 9 pitchers in 4 innings in Wednesday night's game against Jacksonville University on Feb. 16, 2022. (Photo by Hannah White, Floridagators.com)

Gators Softball Tops UCF 3-0

Florida softball hosted UCF at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium on Wednesday night. The Gators outscored the Knights 3-0 in a fight to the finish.

On The Board

The Gators showed potential in its first time at the plate. Skylar Wallace walked, Charla Echols reached base and Olivia Gigante walked to load the bases.  Unfortunately that mojo was lost as three runners were left on base, leaving the game scoreless.

It wasn’t until the third inning that Echols contributed to Florida’s first hit of the game, a single up the middle. That momentum carried into the fifth as Wallace executed a perfect stand up triple into the left center gap, her fourth of the season. She scored sophomore Kendra Falby to make it 1-0 Florida. Wallace contributed her success in that at bat to her consistent mindset no matter the situation at the plate. Though pitcher for the Knights Sarah Willis hurled heat in the circle for five innings, most notably a 69 mph fastball and 46 mph changeup sequence, Wallace made sure to simplify things the best she could.

Echols came up next and singled to center. She extended the lead, scoring Wallace. With Florida up 2-0, the Knights made a pitching change to junior Angelina DeVoe.

The string of hits continued in the sixth, as freshman Kaila Pollard hit a bomb up the middle that nearly went over the fence. The ground rule double scored Avery Goelz from second base, who walked prior. The Gators leading the game 3-0 initiated a second pitching rotation for UCF. Freshman Katelyn Cochran was up next against Florida’s hot bats.

Delbrey Returns

Freshman Lexie Delbrey hadn’t pitched a full inning since last year’s World Series matchup against UCLA due to being banged up. After a few surgeries, the Georgia native came back, hurling seven full innings in front of a lights out defense. She tossed her second-consecutive complete-game shutout. Delbrey emphasized the importance of having confidence in the players behind her, knowing they have her back. In Wednesday evening’s match up, Florida’s defense turned a pair of double plays in the second inning and fifth inning to keep the Knights off the board.

A Word From Walton

Gator coach Tim Walton acknowledged the talent in Knights starting pitcher Sarah Willis. He said adjusting to a someone in the circle who can move their ball speed by 20 or so miles per hour is a personalized process. Walton showcased players other than Wallace who got a hold of Willis’s sequence, including Gigante, Echols and Falby.

Walton said it’s his players that keep him motivated as he looks into the rest of the season. The girls who want to get better after their mistakes and those who play for the name on the front of the jersey is who make him the most proud.

What’s Next

Florida will host the Bubbly Invitational at Katie Seashole Pressly stadium from Friday through Sunday, March 12. The Gators will take on Mercer, Louisiana and Rutgers. First pitch on Friday is set for 3:30 p.m.

About Lauren Halpern

I'm an undergraduate student in the College of Journalism and Communications working towards a Bachelor of Science in Journalism. With a specialization in sports and media, my involvement in ESPN Gainesville, Reptile Report, and The University Athletic Association has given me good introductory experience in the sports media industry. I'm seeking a sports broadcasting position as a reporter where my high energy personality and passion for athletics is communicated to the public. As an athlete myself, it's important to me to work on a supportive and hard-working team. I look forward to connecting with you!

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