Hannah Adams was the exact batter Florida’s softball team wanted at the plate in this situation.
It was the top of the seventh inning, and the scoreboard read 2-0 Missouri. Florida had runners on first and second.
Adams delivered in this situation twice before.
On Feb. 17, Adams clobbered a walk-off double to beat Jacksonville 1-0. Feb. 28, she bashed a home run in the eighth inning to knock off McNeese State 1-0.
Sunday, she was presented with another opportunity to be a hero. The count stood at 3-2. Adams stared down Tigers’ freshman Laurin Krings and came through once more.
The senior smacked Krings’ pitch over the left-center field wall, the same wall left fielder Jaimie Hoover slugged her go-ahead bomb over on Friday night. When Adams touched home plate, Florida led 3-2.
Lefty Katie Chronister finished Mizzou off in the bottom of the inning, and the Gators edged out the Tigers 3-2 Sunday afternoon in Columbia, Missouri.
UF (37-8, 16-5 SEC) remained a game and a half behind conference leader Arkansas, while UM (35-13, 13-8 SEC) fell farther behind with the season close to its final act.
Florida’s pitching struggled mightily in Saturday’s 10-2 loss, so coach Tim Walton returned to righty Elizabeth Hightower, who allowed just two runs in Friday’s 5-2 win. Mizzou went in the same direction and started sophomore Jordan Weber to duplicate Friday’s mound matchup..
The game began in eerily similar fashion to game one of the series when the Tigers grabbed an early lead. Missouri catcher Hatti Moore doubled to drive in a run in the opening inning. Two frames later, shortstop Jenni Laird kicked off the third with a solo home run.
Hightower failed to make it past the fourth inning, as Walton pulled her in favor of Chronister in the fourth. Hightower relinquished five hits and two walks, but only those two runs.
Weber dominated for the Tigers. Florida seemed asleep at the wheel and left just four runners on base. UF remained hitless until the sixth, when first baseman Kendyl Lindaman and catcher Julia Cottrill singled to put runners on first and second and force Weber out of the game.
Krings entered and struck out freshman Emily Wilkie and Hoover, Friday’s saviors, to end the inning.
Florida’s final three batters in the order were due up in the seventh. The Gators struggled all season down at the bottom of the lineup, and Krings seemed on her way to a win when she struck out lead-off pinch hitter Kinsey Goelz on three pitches.
But then shortstop Sarah Longley doubled and Krings hit sophomore Baylee Goddard with a pitch to set the stage for Adams’s heroics.
With the win, the Gators keep their SEC dominance intact. Florida has yet to lose a series against a conference opponent in 2021.
Prior to this weekend, Florida maintained a 5-7 record when its opponent scored first, but both wins in this weekend’s series came when Mizzou drew first blood.
The Gators look to keep pace with Arkansas and begin to wrap up their regular season schedule Thursday when the Texas A&M Aggies come to Gainesville. First pitch flies at 6 p.m. and the game will stream on SEC Network +.
Contact Noah Ram at email@example.com 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.