During the Gators' game against the Stetson Hatters on Wednesday, March 29, 2023 at Katie Seashole Pressly Softball Stadium in Gainesville, FL / UAA Communications photo by Ashley Ray

Gator Softball Falls to Ole Miss on Senior Day

The Florida Gator softball team was defeated by the Ole Miss Rebels 7-2 Saturday afternoon in the second of a three-game Florida home series. The Gators outhit the Rebels 12-7 but could not capitalize on their opportunities as they left 11 runners on base.

Before the game began, Florida recognized its seniors as they play in their final regular season home series of their careers. Each of the seniors’ mothers got to throw out the ceremonial first pitches.

As for the game, senior Elizabeth Hightower started in the circle for the Gators and suffered the loss. She threw 4.1 innings, giving up three earned runs while striking out a season-high six batters and giving up just one hit. She is now 14-10 on the season. On the offensive side, Emily Wilkie hit her seventh home run of the season and Kendra Falby went 2 for 3 with an RBI single.

Catelyn Riley got the win for Ole Miss. She gave up 11 hits over 6.1 innings, but allowed just one run. Brooke Barnard and Paige Smith led the way at the plate for the Rebels. Barnard went 2 for 3 with a bases-clearing triple in the fifth and Smith launched a three-run homer in the seventh to put the game to bed.

With the loss, the Gators fall to 33-16 overall and 9-11 in the SEC while Ole Miss improves to 28-22 on the season and 7-13 in conference play.

Pitcher’s Duel Early

Hightower started strong with a three-pitch strikeout of leadoff batter Tate Whitley. She struck out two in the first inning to bring Florida to the plate for the first time.

The Gators went down quietly in the bottom half. Riley got two ground outs and a fly out to set Florida down one-two-three.

Mikayla Allee began the second with a comebacker that went off Hightower’s face mask for a single. Hightower got the next batter to bounce into a 5-4-3 double play to erase Allee. She then had another comebacker from Jalia Lassiter, but she was able to get her out to put an end to the inning.

Pal Egan came up to bat with one out in the bottom of the second. She bounced one through the middle for Florida’s first hit of the game. Sarah Longley followed it up with a base hit of her own to put runners on first and second with one out. In her first start of the season, Kinsey Goelz came up and grounded into a double play to finish off the inning.

Hightower continued her dominance in the third as she struck out two batters and set down the side in order. This brought the Gators back to the plate with the score still tied at zero.

With two outs in the bottom half, Skylar Wallace drove one into the left-center gap for a double. Riley then walked Charla Echols on four pitches and Reagan Walsh was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Wilkie fought through an 11-pitch battle but grounded it back to the pitcher for the final out of third.

Offenses Come Alive

It was another great inning in the fourth for Hightower as she got Keila Kamoku to strike out to end the frame. This was the eighth straight batter set down by the Florida righty.

Egan led off the home half of the fourth with a hard grounder that snuck past the first baseman for her second hit of the day. Later in the inning, Avery Goelz lined one over the first base bag for a double to put two runners in scoring position with two outs. Falby then hit a chopper to the left side that bounced off the glove of shortstop Allee and rolled into left field. This allowed the runner to score from third to give Florida the first run of the ballgame.

The Rebels brought in Aynslie Furbush to relieve Riley with the bases loaded. She got Echols to fly out to end the inning. Florida led 1-0 through four.

Hightower struggled to start the fifth. She hit two batters and walked one to load the bases with one out. This forced her out of the game after giving up just one hit. Left-handed pitcher Rylee Trlicek came into the game to relieve her. Barnard greeted her with a liner into right field that got past Egan. This cleared the bases and allowed Barnard to get all the way to third with a triple to put the Rebels up 3-1.

With one out in the Gator fifth, Wilkie flew one high down the left field line that snuck inside the foul pole for a homer that cut the deficit to one. Riley re-entered the circle for Ole Miss and got out of the inning. After five, Florida trailed 3-2.

Ole Miss Pours it On

Trlicek got herself into trouble in the top of the sixth. She gave up a walk and a single to put runners on second and third with two outs. However, she was able to work out of it as she got Lassiter to ground out to third to end the inning.

Falby got the bottom half going for Florida as she lined one up the middle for a one-out single. After a fielder’s choice ground out that moved Falby up to second, Echols came up with two outs. She grounded one to the second baseman, who bobbled it. Falby attempted to score from second, but was thrown out at home by Kamoku to end the inning.

After getting the first out in the seventh, Trlicek allowed four straight hits. The third was a double off the left field wall from Savana Sikes that brought home Barnard to extend the Rebel lead to 4-2. Then Smith blasted a three-run homer that bounced off the bullpen roof in left field to give Ole Miss a five run lead. The Gators came to bat with their last chance down 7-2.

The first two got on to begin the bottom of the seventh. Walsh lined one into left field for a single, and Wilkie was hit by a pitch. Egan then struck out and Longley lined out to third. This brought up pinch-hitter Katie Kistler as Florida’s final hope. She bounced one into center field to load the bases and Avery Goelz came up and grounded out to second to put an end to the game.

The Gator softball team lost by a final score of 7-2 to Ole Miss.

Gators Go for Series Victory

After its loss on Saturday, the Gator softball team will try to complete a series victory over Ole Miss in its final regular season home game of the year. First pitch is set for noon Sunday.

About Hugh Green

Hugh is a third year student majoring in Journalism: Sports and Media at the University of Florida.

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