It was the softball version of Tinder: a bunch of singles.
In the first inning of Florida’s contest against Auburn, the Tigers couldn’t stop UF at the plate. Not even a personnel change in the circle could help AU’s futile attempt to steal the third game of the series. The Gators completed a sweep of the Tigers in dominating fashion, run-ruling Auburn 11-0 at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium on Sunday.
Auburn pitcher Lexie Handley began the game in the circle for AU (14-11, 0-3 SEC). She struggled mightily, giving up five hits, a walk and six runs in the first inning. The brutal performance early was enough to convince coach Mickey Dean to change up the look at pitcher. During the first inning, he put senior Ashlee Swindle in to disrupt No. 7 Florida’s (21-4, 3-0 SEC) hitting rhythm.
The right-hander fared marginally better than her left-handed teammate, but not enough to halt the bleeding. She allowed two more runs before the inning mercifully came to a close.
With the exception of UF shortstop Sophia Reynoso and catcher Julia Cottrill, every batter in Florida’s lineup got a hit in the inning alone. In turn, every batter besides Reynoso found home plate.
That gave coach Tim Walton’s group a healthy 8-0 advantage by the time the Tigers finally collected their first three outs. Just over 30 minutes into the contest, there was already a possibility of a run-rule.
While Auburn’s senior pitcher looked completely lost, Florida’s freshman, Rylee Trlicek, looked like the one with circle experience. The Hallettsville, Texas, native gave up six hits, yet zero runs. And her coach likes the heat she throws even with runners on base.
“She gives up hits and doesn’t give in,” Walton said. “She pounds the (strike) zone and she’s fun to watch.”
When this series began on Friday, the Gators didn’t run-rule the Tigers, but they still handled AU with relative ease, winning 6-0. Saturday’s game was much different, however. Walton’s squad barely squeaked out that game in extras.
It took 11 innings to nudge Florida ahead 2-1 to make the series 2-0. But due to the dominant first inning in Sunday’s contest, Game 3 looked more like Game 1 of this series.
Florida’s hitting came and went throughout the series, but the defense was there all weekend. Throughout Auburn’s visit to Gainesville, it only scored one run.
And it gave the Gators a clean sweep in this series against the other SEC squad that wears orange and blue. UF doesn’t have much time to enjoy this series, however, as it battles Pennsylvania on Tuesday at home, but Walton has confidence in his group.
“I think this team’s very mature,” Walton said. “They like each other, and they want to see each other do well.”
You can contact Graham Marsh at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @GrahamMarshUF.