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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Echols’ home runs lead series comeback against Georgia

The Gators outscored the Bulldogs 24-2 in the last two games of the series

<p>Charla Echols and Elizabeth Hightower during a game against Florida State March 3, 2021.</p>

Charla Echols and Elizabeth Hightower during a game against Florida State March 3, 2021.

Florida pitcher Natalie Lugo struck out Georgia first baseman Lacey Fincher. Fincher turned toward her dugout but stumbled as the lights at Jack Turner Stadium blacked out. Almost half an hour later, the lights illuminated Florida’s series comeback over Georgia. 

The Gators danced through a power outage and notched an 8-1 win over No. 20 Georgia to rally a series clinch Monday. 

Florida’s Charla Echols saddled up and took the reins of Florida’s offense early. 

Echols squinted through golden sunlight and throttled a two-run homer over the right center wall to establish Florida’s 2-0 lead.

In the third inning, the third baseman launched a second two-run homer, this time over the left center field wall, and stretched the Gator lead to 4-0. 

Georgia infielder Savana Sikes responded to Echols’ second homer with a bomb over the back wall to put the ‘Dawgs on the board for the first and last time. 

In the fourth, Florida second baseman Hannah Adams scored shortstop Sarah Longley and advanced Cheyenne Lindsey to third on a sacrifice grounder.  

With Lindsey on third, Kendyl Lindaman chipped a hopping grounder into Fincher’s glove. Fincher sent the ball right back to catcher Payden Bordeau as Lindsey darted into home upright. She dodged the tag and Lindaman scampered to first as Florida went up 6-1. 

Once the lights returned, Lugo closed out the sixth inning, and the Gators added two more runs to their commanding lead. A Lindsey sacrifice fly scored Avery Goelz, and an Adams single scored Longley for the night’s final run.

The Gators started left-handed pitcher Katie Chronister but didn’t opt for the five-infielder defense typically tied to Chronister’s presence. Chronister allowed five hits through four innings. Lugo relieved Chronister two pitches into the fifth inning.

Georgia’s Mary Wilson Avant returned to the pitching circle after she allowed a hit and a run Saturday. Avant saw the minimum in two innings but couldn’t repeat her game-one stand as she allowed seven hits and four earned runs. 

Florida improved to 27-4 overall and 10-2 in the SEC after its series win over Georgia. It will take a break from conference play and host South Florida in a double header Wednesday at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium. 

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