UF’s offense was expected to be a force to be reckoned with this season, with third baseman Charla Echols and first baseman Kendyl Lindaman both earning preseason All-SEC selections.
However, it was anything but that in a 1-0 win over Jacksonville Wednesday evening.
The Gators were held without a run until senior Hannah Adams’ walk-off RBI double in the bottom of the seventh. However, UF preserved its perfect record against the Dolphins and will now have five opportunities to reinvigorate some life into that lineup.
Florida will welcome Charlotte and Georgia Southern into Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium for the Bubly Invitational. The three-day tournament begins Friday and concludes Sunday through five games in a three-day span.
While UF’s bat may have frozen against the Dolphins, its pitching only heated up. Junior Elizabeth Hightower got her second start of the season and delivered a gem. She went 4.1 innings and held Jacksonville to two hits.
Lefty Katie Chronister entered in the fifth and allowed only one hit, keeping the superb pitching going. The fifth year got her second win of the season after she supplied a similar performance last Saturday in Florida’s season-opening 6-3 win over USF.
Echols went 2-3, and her 8-9 start is the best offensive start in UF’s history. Adams hit 2-4, including the game-ender, but outside her and Echols, Florida’s offense nagged only five baggers.
The Gators left the bases-loaded twice, but coach Tim Walton isn’t too worried.
“I think it's about trusting the process,” Walton said. “We’re not somebody that’s going to make a bases-loaded adjustment. Pressure is usually on the pitcher in that situation, so we aren’t going to make changes.”
Georgia Southern will play its first games of the season after its first four against Western Kentucky and UNC-Wilmington were postponed. Charlotte, meanwhile, won two of three in its first series against Appalachian State.
Walton said he would like for many members of the team to see action this weekend.
“It’s about mixing things up,” he said. “We got five more games, so it’s an opportunity to see five of our pitchers and hopefully all 21 of our players.”
UF is 2-0 all time against the Eagles, knocking them off during their previous meetings in 2001 and 2018. It has never faced the 49ers.
Action will begin Friday at 6 p.m. against Georgia Southern. More games will follow Saturday with GSU lined up at 1 p.m. and Charlotte at 4 p.m. Play will wrap up Sunday at noon against the 49ers and 3 p.m. against the Eagles. All games can be streamed on FloridaGators.com.
Contact Noah Ram at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @Noah_ram1
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.