It was an eventful 48 hours for the Florida softball team.
The No. 4 Gators traveled more than 80 miles Tuesday to play the first of a two-game series against the Jacksonville Dolphins and won 13-1 via run rule.
Florida defeated Jacksonville 8-0 Wednesday in the season opener at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium. The Gators run-ruled the Dolphins for the second-consecutive night thanks to a five-run sixth inning.
“We've never played back-to-back like this,” said head coach Tim Walton, who compared the series to baseball’s usually tight schedule. “It’s the first time we’ve ever done that.”
Florida pitcher Lexie Delbrey, who was coming off a one-hit complete game performance against Michigan on Feb. 12, struggled to find the strike zone early in the game. The freshman retired the first batter she faced but walked the next two.
Following Delbrey’s second walk of the inning, pitching coach Mike Bosch came to the circle to reassure her. The pep talk was effective and she, after giving up another walk, struck out JU’s Madison Reynolds with bases loaded and two outs.
“I think what happened today was (that) it’s my first home game and there's so many people,” Delbrey said. “It got me excited and I have to stay at a mid-level instead. I can't go high and low. I have to stay in the middle (performance-wise).”
Despite striking out nine batters, Delbrey battled a high pitch count through four frames to earn her second win of the year. In total, she threw 83 pitches — just one more than she did against Michigan.
The Gators finally got the offense going in the third inning with two runs.
Freshman Kendra Falby hit a lead-off single, stole second base and reached third on a throwing error. She then scored as infielder Hannah Adams tried to steal second.
In that same inning, infielder Skylar Wallace had a walk and a steal before scoring on a sacrifice fly by freshman Reagan Walsh.
Falby’s aggressive base running gave the Gators a 3-0 lead in the fifth. She reached first on an infield error and stole second base for the second time in the game. Falby got home with two groundouts by Adams and Wallace.
In the sixth, Jacksonville got runners on first and second base with one out. However, UF pitcher Elizabeth Hightower, who came on in relief in the fifth inning, kept a zero on the board.
The final strike came soon after.
Pinch-runner Katie Kistler, who was on second after a Walsh lead-off double, scored on a RBI triple by outfielder Cheyenne Lindsey. Outfielder Avery Goelz proceeded to bring in Lindsey from third with a single to make it 5-0.
Later that inning, Adams hit a sac fly with bases loaded to bring in catcher Emily Wilkie. Wallace then doubled to right-center bringing in Goelz and Falby.
The Gators will be back in action Friday as they host the Duke Blue Devils at the Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium for the first game of the T-Mobile Tournament. First pitch will be tossed at 6 p.m.
Jose Tovar is a fourth-year journalism student at the University of Florida specializing in sports and media. He has covered softball and soccer as a beat writer and aspires to work in the sports media industry.