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Friday, January 27, 2023

No. 4 Florida romps No. 14 Duke to open T-Mobile tournament

The Gators keep it rolling early in the season remaining undefeated through seven games

<p>Members of the Florida softball team celebrate after a victory over USF May 21, 2021. Florida fell to UCLA Sunday, ending its season.</p>

Members of the Florida softball team celebrate after a victory over USF May 21, 2021. Florida fell to UCLA Sunday, ending its season.

Duke graduate student Jameson Kavel stood firm in the batters box as Florida freshman pitcher Lexie Delbrey prepared to sling the ball in play at the top of the first. 

Kavel’s veteran experience took over as she created a stellar double between the gaps in center, sending sophomore Kelly Torres and freshman Ana Gold home to put the Blue Devils ahead two.

No. 14 Duke entered Friday’s matchup with No. 4 Florida fresh off a 4-2 victory against Villanova to open up its T-Moblie tournament play in Gainesville. 

The Gators found themselves in uncharted territory, giving up the most runs to an opponent so far in 2022. 

Florida was able to respond due in large part to a booming centerfield home run by redshirt junior Skylar Wallace at the bottom of the first. Senior Cheyenne Lindsey also made her presence known early with a double to centerfield bring .in in freshman Reagan Walsh and senior Charla Echols to score one unearned run apiece. The Gators jumped into a 3-2 lead.

Florida pitcher Elizabeth Hightower replaced Delbrey at the top of the second and shut down any momentum Duke had generated offensively. The Blue Devils would end the second inning with zero runs and zero hits, while UF sophomore Katie Kistler scored on a Wallace single.

Following a quiet and scoreless third inning for both teams, Echols and outfielder Kendra Falby scored in the fourth to increase Florida’s lead to four. Hightower continued throwing off Blue Devils batters with decisive and powerful throws. 

Duke, on the other hand, began walking Florida batters, leading to conspire clutch scoring opportunities. Blue Devils pitcher Lillie Walker walked Wallace, forcing in another Kistler run and setting up Falby on third base, where she would eventually run all the way home following a heads-up play by Echols to ground a ball to second base. 

Florida’s three-run performance in the fifth decisively sealed the game, as the Blue Devils were only able to muster a single run by Kavel in the sixth inning falling, 9-3.

The T-Mobile tournament continues at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium as the Gators face a doubleheader Saturday, starting off with an 11:30 a.m. showdown against Villanova and ending with a 2 p.m. matchup against Louisville. 

The Wildcats look to redeem their early losses to the Cardinals and Duke to open up their tournament play, while Louisville looks to leave Gainesville with a sweep.  

Contact Brenda Bogle at Follow her on Twitter @bogle_brenda.

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Brenda Bogle

Brenda Bogle is a UF journalism senior with a specialization in sports and media. She joined The Alligator in the Fall of 2021.

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