The Florida Gator softball team took down the Auburn Tigers at home Friday night 6-3. After Thursday’s walk-off victory, this win gave the Gators their second SEC series victory of the year.
Gator ace Elizabeth Hightower started in the circle for Florida. She got the win despite not having her best stuff. She threw four innings, giving up all three Tiger runs on five hits, three walks and two strikeouts. Rylee Trlicek was brought on in relief and got the save.
On the offensive side, Charla Echols and Pal Egan both had big nights. Echols went 2 for 4 with a team-high three RBIs. Egan hit her first home run against an SEC opponent. It was a two-run shot that gave Florida the lead in the third.
With the win, the Gators improve to 28-9 overall and 6-5 in the SEC while Auburn falls to 28-12, also 6-5 in conference play.
— Gators Softball (@GatorsSB) April 8, 2023
Gators Jump Out in Front
In the top of the first, Hightower walked the Auburn leadoff hitter, Nelia Peralta, and gave up a base hit to Denver Bryant. She got out of the inning unscathed though as she struck out two, including Icess Tresvik, to retire the side.
Skylar Wallace led off the home half of the first with a double off the left field wall. The Gators’ batting leader came around to score on a hard-hit RBI single by Echols that gave Florida a 1-0 lead. Auburn starter Annabelle Wildra gave up a walk and one more hit in the inning but got the Gator left fielder, Katie Kistler, to fly out to end the inning so only one run scored.
Wildra had a good bounce-back inning in the bottom half as she threw a scoreless inning.
Both Teams Flex Their Muscles
Peralta led off the third with a solo blast that landed on the bullpen roof in left field. This tied the game at one. Hightower got the next three batters out to keep the game tied going into the bottom of the third.
With a runner on, Egan launched a missile over the center field wall to give the Gators their lead back. This was the grad transfer’s fifth homer of the year. At the end of three, Florida led 3-1.
After the game, the Gators’ head coach, Tim Walton, talked about Egan’s work ethic and journey to get to UF.
Hightower breezed through the fourth, giving up just one walk in the inning.
The Tigers called on Emmah Rolfe out of the bullpen to start the bottom half. Avery Goelz greeted her rudely as she bounced one into left field for a leadoff single. Rolfe walked the next two batters, which brought up Echols with the bases loaded. She lined a base hit into center field that drove in two Gator runs. The next batter, Reagan Walsh, hit a sacrifice fly to right that extended Florida’s lead to 6-1.
In the fifth, Peralta drove her second home run of the game out to left field. This two-run shot cut the Gator lead to three and forced Hightower out of the game. Trlicek came out of the bullpen and got Florida out of the inning as she retired three straight batters.
Rolfe set down Florida in order in the bottom of the fifth to keep the score at 6-3 with two innings to play.
Gators Close Out Auburn
Trlicek pitched well in the top of the sixth. She gave up one hit but nothing else as the Gators came up to bat in the bottom half.
Shelby Lowe came into pitch in the bottom half for the Tigers. She threw a one-two-three inning as Florida went down quietly. The Gators were up three as Trlicek came back out to finish off the victory.
Millie Roberts led off the seventh with a pinch-hit single through the left side for Auburn. Wallace then made a nice play in the hole to get the runner at second for a fielder’s choice. After a strikeout of Jessie Blaine, Trlicek got Lindsey Garcia to pop out to first as the Gators won by a final score of 6-3.
Walton talked about Trlicek’s performance and impact on the team after the game.
Florida Goes For the Sweep
The Gator softball team will look to take all three games from Auburn as they face off again Saturday. First pitch is set for 1 p.m. at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.