At the top of the second inning against the South Florida Bulls, Florida senior Charla Echols saw a perfect opportunity to complete an impressive tone-setting play.
With the highlighter-yellow ball heading dangerously towards foul territory, Echols sprang into action from third base to lay out for a diving one-handed grab.
This highlight reel from the third baseman set the tone for the rest of the contest, as the Bulls would have to work hard to take the win in Gainesville, Florida.
A win for the Bulls, however, never materialized.
The No. 8 Gators (35-9, 11-7) defeated USF(35-12, 5-4) Wednesday evening in a close matchup, 1-0.
The last time these two teams took the field against one another, Florida captured a dominant early-season victory, 12-0.
Florida's victory this time around was a matter of discipline and keeping errors to a minimum. Neither team made game-changing mistakes, and both looked prime to take over at any moment.
The moment finally arrived at the bottom of the sixth inning, as redshirt junior Skylar Wallace stole second base and was able to generate a run off a miscalculated USF throw.
With 37 stolen bases on the year, Wallace now holds the program record for steals in a single season. Following the momentous achievement, Wallace couldn't help but mention the competitive drive she had at a young age that got her where she is now.
“I always think about racing with the little boys, and I was so competitive and I just wanted to find a way to win,” Wallace said. “For some reason, that's just translated to softball and just made me the base runner and competitor I am today.”
With the score at 1-0, Florida relied on senior Elizabeth Hightower’s veteran presence in the circle to ice the game in the top of the seventh. Head coach Tim Walton said he was proud of Hightower’s performance and expected nothing less from the pitcher.
“She's had really good success against South Florida in the past, but I do expect that out of her and that's her role,” Walton said.
Florida freshman Sam Roe looked poised as she filled in for senior Hannah Adams at second base. Adams is unavailable for three weeks due to a hand injury.
Florida now turns its attention back to conference play with a series against Arkansas beginning Friday at 8 p.m. at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.
The Razorbacks are fresh off an impressive series win against No. 9 Kentucky, claiming the final game in a shutout, 8-0.
Florida’s matchup against Arkansas can be watched live on ESPNU.
Contact Brenda Bogle at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @bogle_brenda.
Brenda Bogle is a UF journalism senior with a specialization in sports and media. She joined The Alligator in the Fall of 2021.