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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Gators look ahead to rematch against Jacksonville

Florida will take on Jacksonville for the second time after a narrow 1-0 victory

<p>Elizabeth Hightower winds up in the pitcher’s circle against FSU March 3.</p>

Elizabeth Hightower winds up in the pitcher’s circle against FSU March 3.

After a dominant weekend sweep against a top-15 LSU team, the Gators look to continue their dominant form against a pesky Jacksonville team Wednesday. 

Florida matched up with the Dolphins in its fourth game of the season and eked out a 1-0 victory after a walk-off single from infielder Hannah Adams.

But while Adams continues to thrive in the clutch, the UF bats woke up from an early-season slumber. Over the weekend, the Gators tagged the LSU pitching staff for an impressive 31 hits across the three-game series and averaged seven runs across their three victories. 

The Gators also embraced success from more unlikely contributors against the Tigers. Julia Cottrill corked her first career home run down the left-field line Friday night, and Cheyenne Lindsey turned in a 4-4 performance Sunday with a home run and a double. 

Florida has enjoyed consistent success at the plate throughout this season -- five Gators enjoy a batting average over .300 and four bolster an OPS greater than one. 

However, Jacksonville looks poised to provide the Gator offense with a stiff challenge. JU’s trio of starting pitchers, headlined by senior Alyssa Bilodeau, all boast ERA’s under two. Bilodeau maintains a staggering 1.04 ERA and allowed just one run through six innings the last time these two teams met. Bilodeau should start against the Gators Wednesday, as she enters the contest on a full four days of rest after a regrettable performance against Florida Gulf Coast. 

The Eagles managed six runs against the Maryland native, which could provide the Gators with a blueprint past Bilodeau.

JU’s pitfall against Florida last time was its woeful hitting, as a combined effort from Elizabeth Hightower and Katie Chronister yielded just three Dolphin hits. Jacksonville has managed just one run in four games against SEC competition, a number unlikely to budge against UF’s elite pitching staff. 

Florida’s hurlers post a collective 1.43 ERA, and the Gators have surrendered just 13 runs in 12 games against non-Power 5 competition. Coach Tim Walton also notes that his team’s success on the defensive end stems from a team-wide effort. 

“None of them are strikeout pitchers,” Walton said in reference to his pitchers. “They’re all only as good as what our defense provides for them.” 

A rivalry weekend against the Georgia Bulldogs awaited the Gators in two days time, but Walton ensured that Wednesday’s matchup holds his players’ attention.

“I thought Jacksonville was a good team,” Walton said. “A team that could have beat us on that day and a team that could certainly beat us tomorrow. I think that’ll have the attention of our players when we step out into practice today.”

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First pitch will fly in Jacksonville at 6 p.m. and stream on the JU Athletics YouTube channel

Contact Declan Walsh at dwalsh@alligator.org and follow him on Twitter @declanaw



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