Non-conference tournaments can be a drag.
Multiple games per day usually spell doom for logistics in the relatively fast sport of college softball. It’s rare for a whole weekend’s slate to run as scheduled.
Florida felt that pain Sunday, starting its third game of the weekend against James Madison 65 minutes late.
Hannah Adams must have been chomping at the bit to play. She took out any potential frustration on the ball.
UF (15-0) survived JMU (3-5) 6-2 in a Sunday afternoon matchup between teams that went deep in last year’s postseason. Adams and the Gators did most of their scoring by spraying softballs over and out of the UCF Softball Complex. Home runs made up four of Florida’s six runs.
The game appeared to be tracking towards a run-rule ending halfway through, but the Dukes scored two runs in the fifth and the seventh frames to make it interesting.
Adams crushed her first four-bag shot of the day and of the season to right center to open the scoring in the top of the first.
Batters three and four also had runs on their mind.
Skylar Wallace tripled to continue her perfect Gator career in games reaching base, and Charla Echols dropped a sacrifice fly to center to score her, giving Florida a 2-0 lead.
Two innings later, Adams and Echols continued the reign of terror with two bombs to put the Gators up 5-0 in the third.
Senior pitcher Natalie Lugo was dominant out of the gate but shaky toward the end, giving up five hits in six innings of work on a season-high nine strikeouts in her win.
Kendra Falby was caught stealing early in the game for the first time in her Florida career. Later, she reached on a fielder’s choice and stole two bases. Falby and Adams catalyzed UF’s final run on a double steal that scored Falby in the fourth to make it 6-0.
The Dukes avoided the shutout in the bottom of the fifth, although not at Lugo’s fault. JMU center fielder Isabelle Fishman was walked, and her and second baseman Jasmine Hall both crossed the plate after an errant throw from Gator shortstop Reagan Walsh eschewed the double play and rolled to the outfield. JMU had cut the lead to 6-2 .
That set up the trouble in the final frame for Florida. Graduate pitcher Marissa Mesiemore took over for Lugo to start the seventh, and chaos ensued.
She walked pinch hitter Lily Romero, and later third baseman Hallie Hall, to put two Dukes runners on. Coach Tim Walton then opted for freshman stud Lexie Delbrey to try to clean up the inning and the game.
Yet, Delbrey could not find the strike zone either, walking three more James Madison batters and bringing around two runs that slimmed the Gators’ lead to 6-4 with the bases loaded.
With UF’s perfect record on the ropes, the third call to the bullpen was the charm. Junior Rylee Trlicek struck out catcher Lauren Bernett and got Reed Butler out on a game-ending fielder’s choice for the save and a sigh of relief.
Florida concludes action at the UCF Knights Classic in the second game of Sunday’s doubleheader against the hosting Knights.
Contact Caleb Wiegandt at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @CalebWiegandt.