Skylar Wallace in the Gator softball team's loss to Auburn on Saturday. Photo courtesy of Hannah White.

Gators Softball Takes A Tumble In Series Finale Against Georgia

The Florida Gator softball team held the Georgia Bulldogs in check for most of their weekend series. But in the series finale, the Bulldogs got the last laugh.

The Gators suffered a 7-2 loss to the Bulldogs on Sunday afternoon. Florida took the first two games of the weekend with impressive performances in the batter’s box. On Sunday, however, it was Georgia who dominated at the plate.

Florida struggled mightily in the circle early on in their game three match up. Elizabeth Hightower got the start, but she could not keep Georgia contained. She surrendered four hits, two walks and four runs in 4.0 innings. Hightower also allowed a pair of home runs to Sara Mosley and Jayda Kearney in the first and third inning, respectively.

Rylee Trlicek relieved Hightower in the top of the fifth inning, and she managed to quiet Georgia’s offense down for a while. However, the Bulldogs did not stay down for long, as they added on three more runs in the sixth inning. Eventually, Kearney knocked out her second homer of the day to put the cherry on top of Georgia’s stellar day.

In three innings pitched, Trlicek allowed three hits, zero walks and four runs (one earned). Hightower and Trlicek combined for four strikeouts on the day as well.

As the Bulldogs continued piling onto the scoreboard throughout the game, the Gators could not respond at the plate. Florida’s only runs of the game came on a two-RBI single from Reagan Walsh in the fifth inning. With UF’s offense remaining stagnant for most of the afternoon, Georgia rode their early surge on the bats to victory to avoid the series sweep.

Georgia Comes Out Swinging

The Bulldogs immediately took command of Sunday’s game. In just the second at-bat of the afternoon, Mosley sent a ball flying over the left field wall and into the neighboring Southwest Recreation Center fields. Her early solo shot gave Georgia all the momentum they needed for a dominant afternoon.

In the following inning, Sydney Kuma led off for the Bulldogs with a walk and a stolen base. Two at-bats later, Marisa Miller cracked a single down the left field line to bring Kuma home.

Still not yet satisfied with their lead, Georgia tacked on another two runs in the third inning. Mosley walked to start off the inning before Kearney blasted a ball into the heart of center field and over the fence. As Kearney rounded the bases, Georgia had jumped out to a 4-0 lead.

Meanwhile, Florida could not muster a response of their own in the batter’s box. The Gators only recorded two hits in the first four innings. Pal Egan nailed a single into center field in the second inning, while Walsh blasted a double deep into left field in the fourth. Neither runner made it home, as the subsequent batters went down 1-2-3 in both innings.

Gators Show Brief Signs Of Life

For a moment in the fifth inning, it looked like Florida was primed to make a comeback. Sarah Longley, Skylar Wallace and Charla Echols all walked to load the bases with two outs on the board. Walsh then stepped back into the batter’s box with the entire crowd now on their feet.

After hitting out back-to-back foul balls, Walsh belted a ball into right field that landed fair. Longley and Wallace scored, while Echols pulled into third base safely. Echols ended up stranded at third, but the Gators now only trailed 4-2.

“I was just looking for a pitch to drive in the gap and score the runners,” Walsh said. “I was trying to not do too much, I was just trying to get it done for my team.”

Interestingly enough, Wallace’s walk earlier in the inning marked her third consecutive base on balls of the day. Wallace, who had been tearing it up against the Bulldogs all weekend long, took note of Georgia’s strategy against her on Sunday. She had to rely on her discipline at the plate more than usual.

“I don’t think they wanted to give anything too much over the plate,” Wallace said. “They were just trying to make me get out, making myself swing at a pitch that wasn’t a pitch I could drive… I was just being really selective, and I knew they didn’t want to put anything close.”

“It was a mindset of, ‘if they walk me, that’s fine, because it’s pretty much a double at that point,’ because I’m going to make you throw me out at second,” Wallace continued. Sure enough, she finished with two stolen bases on the afternoon as well.

Bulldogs Seal The Win In The Final Two Innings

Trlicek got it done in the circle for the Gators in the fifth inning. She came out looking strong, forcing back-to-back groundouts before sitting down the third batter she saw on strikes. However, things quickly soured for Florida on defense in the following inning.

In the top of the sixth, the Bulldogs landed two runners in scoring position on a pair of errors from the Gator infield. Two at-bats later, Florida snagged a ground ball and attempted to tag out a Georgia runner at home plate. Instead, the Gators found themselves in an awkward run-down at third base that ended with failed tags at both second and third. The Bulldogs now had the bases loaded, and no runner had been tagged out.

Georgia then knocked in a single and a double in their next two at-bats to add three more runs to their lead. Trlicek struck out the next batter and forced a fly out to center to retire the side. Although the inning had finally ended, the lead was now once again out of reach for the Gators.

Florida went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the sixth. In the top of the seventh, Kearney blasted out another home run to effectively kill off any last hopes UF had of coming back. Wallace and Falby both came up with singles in the bottom of the inning to give the Gators their first multi-hit inning of the game. However, Charla Echols grounded into a double play in the next at-bat to finish off the afternoon.

The Gators will return to Katie Pressly Seashore Stadium for a double-header with the University of South Florida Bulls on Wednesday, April 19. First pitch in game one is set for 6 p.m., while game two will kick off at 8:30 p.m.

About Jack Meyer

Jack Meyer is a third-year student at the University of Florida. He is majoring in Journalism and specializing in Sports and Media.

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