The eighth-ranked Florida Gator softball team crushed the Mercer Bears 14-3 Friday afternoon in the Gators’ first game of the Bubly Invitational. Florida run-ruled Mercer in just five innings.
The Gators were scheduled to play Louisiana in the second game. However, it was postponed to Sunday because of weather complications in Gainesville.
Florida’s offense was hot early and often on Friday as they had 14 hits. They scored in all four innings they came to the plate, including five runs in both the second and third.
Charla Echols led the charge going 3 for 4 with a career-high seven RBI. Olivia Gigante also went 3 for 4 as she hit home runs in her first two at-bats. The Bears couldn’t get Kendra Falby out as she went 4 for 4 from the plate, and scored all four times.
With the victory, the Gators improve to 16-3 while Mercer falls to 6-16.
Gators Get Ahead Early
Florida’s ace, Elizabeth Hightower, set the tone early in the circle. She set down the Bears one-two-three in the first thanks to a sliding catch from Katie Kistler to end the inning.
The Gators got on the board in the bottom half after a throwing error by Mercer catcher Sophie Sumner allowed Falby to stroll home. Freshman designated player Gigante then blasted a two-run homer to straightaway center to give Florida a 3-0 lead.
Hightower got out of a jam in the top of the second. She retired three straight batters, including two strikeouts, after giving up two hits to start the inning.
Florida extended its lead in a big way in the bottom of the inning as they batted around. After an RBI groundout from Skylar Wallace, and Echols pulled a three-run shot over the right field wall to put the Gators up 7-0.
After Echols’ blast, Florida went back-to-back as Gigante hit her second home run of the game to the same spot as her first. At the end of two, the Orange & Blue led by eight.
Florida Closes it Out
After Mercer put two on the board in the top of the third, the Gators continued their offensive onslaught in the bottom half. With the bags loaded, Echols drove one into left-center for a bases-clearing double to extend the lead.
Gigante then singled up the middle to score Echols. To end the inning, Pal Egan lined a pinch-hit double down the line that brought home the fifth run of the inning.
In the fourth, Echols closed out her amazing day at the plate with an RBI single for the Gators’ 14th run of the game.
Graduate right-hander Samantha Bender came in the game to close it out in the fifth. She set down the side on three straight groundouts. Florida won by a final score of 14-3.
Bubly Invitational Continues Saturday
This was the first of five games Florida will play this weekend. The Gators will face off against Mercer again on Saturday in Game 1 of a doubleheader starting at 11 a.m. Florida will then play Louisiana in Game 2 at 1:30 p.m.