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Kendra Falby. Photo courtesy of Arnav Barpujari.

Gators Softball Takes Series Against Ole Miss In Dominant 12-2 Victory

After some turbulence in conference play throughout the 2023 season, the Florida Gator softball team got back on track with their third SEC series win of the year. The Gators took home a 12-2 win over the Ole Miss Rebels on Sunday afternoon to clinch the series victory in their final weekend at home this regular season.

Florida dominated Ole Miss in the batter’s box all day long. The Gators finished the afternoon with 10 hits and six walks. Pal Egan and Charla Echols led the way with a pair of 3-for-3 performances at the plate for UF. Egan and Echols each finished with two runs scored and two RBI. Kendra Falby and Avery Goelz also combined for four RBI on the day while Falby and Reagan Walsh went on to chip in with two hits each.

Lexie Delbrey earned the nod in the circle for Florida on Sunday afternoon. Despite a rocky start early in the game, Delbrey hung on for an impressive performance to keep the Rebels in check. Through five innings pitched, she allowed one hit, four walks and two runs (one earned). She finished the day with four strikeouts as well.

Plenty Of Runs To Go Around Early On

The Rebels hopped onto the board early on in the afternoon. Tate Whitley bunted for a leadoff single, and Savana Sikes reached first on a hit-by-pitch. Both runners then advanced into scoring position on a wild pitch from Delbrey. Eventually, Whitley scored on a sacrifice fly, while Sikes scored on another wild pitch.

Delbrey initially struggled to keep Ole Miss under wraps. However, she managed to keep herself composed and remained focused on the task at hand.

“I reset, and then I told myself, ‘throw a good pitch’,” Delbrey said. “It was a rough first inning, so I had to reset a lot… the more good pitches I threw, the more confident I got.”

Florida immediately responded with plenty of offensive action of their own in the bottom of the first. The Gators managed to load the bases on a single and a pair of walks with just one out in the inning. Egan then knocked in an RBI single for Florida’s first run of the inning. UF then secured back-to-back bases loaded walks to go up 3-2.

But the Gators were still not done. With the bases still loaded and two outs Falby drove a single up the middle to tack on another two runs. By the end of the first inning, Florida had jumped out to a 5-2 lead.

While Florida’s offense quieted down a bit in the second inning, Delbrey kept the Gators in control in the circle. She sat down all six batters she faced in the following two innings to keep the Rebels off the board. By the middle of the third inning, the Gators still held their 5-2 lead, and they were ready to do more damage at the plate.

Gators Blast Off In The Bottom Of The Third

In the bottom of the third inning, Florida managed to load the bases right away with no outs. Egan knocked a leadoff single, while Sarah Longley and Kaila Pollard made it on base via a hit-by-pitch and a walk, respectively.

With a perfect opportunity to tighten UF’s grip on the game, Avery Goelz stepped into the batter’s box. After letting the first pitch fly by for a strike and hitting a foul ball on the second pitch, she faced an early 0-2 count. In spite of the less-than-ideal situation, Goelz remained locked in and cracked a line drive into left-center to bring Egan and Longley home.

The Rebels secured two outs in the subsequent two at-bats as they looked to retire the side without any more damage. Echols and Walsh had other plans. Echols nailed a line drive single into left field to score Katie Kistler, who pinch ran for Pollard. Walsh followed her up with an RBI single up the middle to score Goelz.

Emily Wilkie then joined in on the fun with a perfectly hit knock into left field. Both the third baseman and shortstop bobbled the ball as it flew past them, but neither could secure it. Echols scored on the play, while Wilkie safely landed on first with a single. Pal Egan followed her up with a hard ground ball into right field to score Walsh.

With hit after hit in inning number three, by the time the dust had settled, the Gators had taken a commanding 11-2 lead.

Florida Clinches The Run-Rule Victory

With Florida already having surpassed the margin needed to clinch a mercy rule win, all they needed to do was maintain their lead. Delbrey pitched another strong inning in the top of the fourth, with the Rebels going down 1-2-3 in the inning.

Echols then gave the Gators one last boost at the plate in the bottom of the inning. After a two-out single from Skylar Wallace, Echols blasted a double into right field to drive in a run and give the Gators a 12-2 lead.

The Gators had taken a 12-2 lead after four innings of play and now had an opportunity to put Ole Miss to bed for good. Initially, the Rebels looked to potentially cause some trouble, landing two runners on base with a pair of walks and only one out. However, Delbrey forced a fly out to center and a ground out to third to prevent any more runs from scoring. Ballgame.

Florida will return to Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium on May 3 for their final home game of the regular season. They will take on the Florida State Seminoles in a highly anticipated Sunshine State showdown. First pitch is set for 6 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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