The No. 8 Gators softball team fell to the No. 12 Razorbacks Sunday afternoon at Bogle Park to lose the series 2-1. Arkansas was able to outscore Florida 14-1 in five innings. Two home runs by junior Rylin Hedgecock set the tone for the Razorbacks offensive show.
Arkansas Attacks Early
The Razorbacks wasted no time coming back from their 11-4 shutout the night before. Elizabeth Hightower, in the circle for the Gators, gave the Arkansas offense two base runners right off the bat. Both Raigan Kramer and Hannah Gammill reached for Hedgecock to hit her 13th home run of the season and first of the day.
Up 3-0 in the second inning, senior Chenise Delce shut out what is usually an outstanding Gator lineup. Sam Roe, Olivia Gigante and Sarah Longley were all guilty of the rise ball strikeout for the Razorback’s bats to add four more to the board in the bottom of the second.
Second baseman Kristina Foreman started the show with a 10-pitch at-bat to reach on a walk. Ataylia Rijo tripled down the right field line to score Foreman, making it 4-0. On the next at-bat, Kendra Falby misplayed a short pop fly to left field, looking up to find Rijo too soon.
She allowed a standup double for Reagan Johnson and another run to score, making it 5-0. Kramer stepped in the box next, earning herself an RBI double to deep center right over Katie Kistler’s head. Johnson scored with no question, making it 6-0 Arkansas. Hedgecock was due next and did her job once again with an RBI single scoring Kramer. At this point, Hedgecock drove in four of the Razorbacks seven runs.
And so it continues
The Gators defense was pushed to the limit again in the bottom of the third inning. Freshman Lauren Camenzind singled and Foreman walked to start off the rally. Once a wild pitch got passed Roe behind the plate, runners were in scoring position for Johnson to slap to the right side of the field, running out the close play and scoring Camenzind to make it 8-0.
On the Razorbacks third time through the lineup, Kramer earned herself another RBI, scoring Foreman to push the score to 9-0. Hedgecock challenged the run rule, making it 12-0 with her second three-run home run of the game. She scored Johnson and Kramer and that marked seven of the Razorbacks 12 runs thanks to Hedgecock.
The fourth inning began with a punch from Skylar Wallace. Wallace was the first one due after the third-inning rally and homered for the eighth time this season. Unfortunately, she was the Gators only run in the competition. In the bottom of the fourth, the Razorbacks spoke back with a double earned by Camenzind followed by a two-run homer by Foreman, making it 14-1. Foreman’s ball was launched to the deepest part of the park up the middle. This marked her fifth of the season.
Wallace gets us on the scoreboard with her 8th home run of the season! #GoGators pic.twitter.com/CHD9ipoJh5
— Gators Softball (@GatorsSB) March 26, 2023
The Gators Pitching Rotation
All five of Florida’s pitchers gave it a good shot against the Razorbacks offense. Hightower was pulled in the second for Lexie Delbrey to enter the game. Delbrey has more spin than speed compared to Hightower, making it an obvious choice for Florida in hopes of getting the walk numbers down. Delbrey was replaced in the third once the score hit 7-0 with Sam Bender, the hardest thrower on the Gator rotation. It was clear the Razorbacks adjusted to her speed quickly, putting up two more in the third.
Gigante finished the third inning, replacing Bender. Gigante throws mostly down in the zone, so she was put in to limit the elevated balls out of the park from Arkansas. To no avail, this was when Hedgecock launched her second home run of the game and challenged the run rule 12-0 Rylee Trlicek was used as a final effort from the Gators in the bottom of the fourth. Though she did not allow any more runs to score, the Florida offense couldn’t pull through in the fifth.
Final #GoGators | Presented by @WellsFargo pic.twitter.com/6iUa6tMEXQ
— Gators Softball (@GatorsSB) March 26, 2023
Outside The Game
The Gators brought the second-largest crowd in Bogle Park history. There were upwards of 3,000 spectators at each game in the series. All in all, that makes for about 9,500 ticketholders over the span of the weekend.
The competition preceding Sunday’s matchup was under the lights, beginning at 8 p.m. Saturday. Florida didn’t get back to its hotel until at least midnight that night, which challenged the team mentally with lack of rest.
The Gators, now 24-7 and 3-3 in the SEC, will take on Stetson at home in Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium Wednesday at 6 p.m. The team will resume SEC play on the road Friday, marking the start of a three-game series against South Carolina.