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Friday, April 16, 2021

Florida looks to improve to 9-0 as it hosts UNF

The Gators went 5-0 in the Bubly Invitational against Charlotte and Georgia Southern

<p>Elizabeth Hightower Junior Elizabeth Hightower has an ERA of 0.74 entering Thursday’s game. </p>

Elizabeth Hightower Junior Elizabeth Hightower has an ERA of 0.74 entering Thursday’s game.

The Gators softball season is less than two weeks old, and yet it feels like Florida has found its groove.

After needing a walk-off to beat Jacksonville on Feb. 17, UF dominated Charlotte and Georgia Southern this past weekend in the Bubly Invitational, outscoring them 30-6 across five games.

It’ll look to keep it going Thursday night as it welcomes North Florida to Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.

It’s difficult to determine if the Gators’ offense or pitching was more dominant against the 49ers and Eagles. Florida knocked in 30 runs on 40 hits and hit .323 for the series. The team’s batting average (.351) ranks fourth in the SEC.

Senior Hannah Adams ranks second in average (.458) and has already delivered clutch moments, such as the walk-off double against Jacksonville.

“When you get into those moments, the last thing you want to do is start overthinking things,” Adams said. “I think, for me, the biggest thing is to not let the moment get too big.”

In the lineup, Adams is followed by senior Kendyl Lindaman and junior Charla Echols. Both were named preseason All-SEC selections, and Adams said their ability has made her more confident at the plate.

“I know if I can get on base, they’ll easily drive me in,” Adams said.

In the circle, fifth year Katie Chronister has been nearly perfect thus far. The lefty won two games in the Invitational and led the team in wins at four.

She was sensational in Sunday’s 4-0 win over Charlotte, pitching her second career complete game shutout. Chronister was rewarded with the SEC Pitcher of the Week recognition.

Chronister has faced issues with her control, but this season she has only allowed one walk in 16 innings pitched.

“When you don’t walk people, and you are constantly in the zone, you’ll be able to get people out” coach Tim Walton said. “She’s put a lot more attention on her body, she’s gotten stronger and her mechanics have gotten better.”

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Chronister isn’t the only Gator pitcher who has excelled this season. Junior Elizabeth Hightower has an ERA of 0.74 and sophomore Rylee Trlieck has yet to allow a run in five innings of work.

The Ospreys enter with a 1-4 record, with their lone win coming against Boston College. However, half of their scheduled games have been postponed or canceled, including their series last weekend versus Auburn and South Carolina.

Offensively, North Florida has struggled. Redshirt junior Kayla McGory leads the team in RBIs with just two and no player has hit multiple home runs. The two teams met last February, and UF won 10-2 . Florida is 10-0 all-time against the Ospreys.

First pitch is at 6 p.m. and can be streamed on SEC Network +.

Contact Noah Ram at nram@alligator.org and follow him on Twitter @Noah_ram1

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Noah Ram

Noah is a third year journalism-sports and media student from Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. He has been with The Alligator since Spring 2019 and has covered men’s and women’s tennis, gymnastics and volleyball. When he isn’t on his beat, Noah is usually sadden over his beloved South Florida sports teams, such as the Heat and Dolphins.


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