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Thursday, December 01, 2022

Florida softball advances to NCAA Super Regionals with massive win over Wisconsin

An impressive 10-run first inning sent the Gators to another NCAA Super Regional

<p>The Florida Gators softball team avoided the sweep Monday night by handing No. 5 Alabama a 2-1 loss.</p>

The Florida Gators softball team avoided the sweep Monday night by handing No. 5 Alabama a 2-1 loss.

Florida ran rampant, sealing Sunday’s game against Wisconsin by the end of the first inning.  

The Gators (45-16, 13-11) dominated in the Gainesville Regional Championship game over the Badgers (30-20, 12-11), forcing a mercy rule en route to a 11-0 victory.

Florida wreaked havoc on offense, running the score up 10-0 in the first inning. Ten runs are the most the Gators have ever put up in a single inning in an NCAA Regional matchup in program history. 

Freshman outfielder Kendra Falby got the bats going for the orange and blue with a lead-off single. Redshirt junior shortstop Skylar Wallace roped a single to plate Falby, the first run of many.

“It all starts with Kendra at the top of the lineup, starting the momentum from the very beginning of the game,” fifth-year second baseman Hannah Adams said. “Anytime she gets on base it's huge momentum for us already because she's super hard to defend. It just gives us more opportunities to drive her in.” 

Senior third baseman Charla Echols dropped a bunt to load the bases with no outs. Wisconsin head coach Yvette Healy relieved sophomore pitcher Gabi Salo with junior Tessa Magnalmo.

It didn’t matter to the Florida batters who took to the circle, a no-out rally was happening regardless. 

Freshman Reagan Walsh shot a grounder to Badgers second baseman Ellie Hubbard who couldn’t come up with the play. Walsh was safely aboard at first base while Adams and Wallace strutted home to take a 3-0 lead.

Three more runs were scored for Florida before Wisconsin struck out sophomore first baseman Avery Goelz for the first out of the inning. 

The Gators freshman came to play as catcher Sam Roe laid down a textbook bunt that let Kistler steal home to put UF up 7-0. 

Wallace came up with a fielder’s choice RBI single to score Roe. Once on the base path, she took off from first base, snagging her 50th stolen base of the season. 

A two-RBI single from Echols up the middle pushed Falby and Wallace across home plate to record the ninth and 10th run of the first inning before the Gators were retired. 

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“We just kept scoring over and over again with no outs,” Adams said. “I was like, ‘This is what I like to see, this is what our offense is capable of.’” 

Adams recorded a hit during all four of her at bats Sunday, tying the career-high she set in a 7-4 win over Louisiana State March of last season. 

Florida scored one more time in the fifth inning with a groundout to Badgers shortstop Lauren Foster from Wallace that Falby sprinted home on. 

Freshman pitcher Lexi Delbrey issued only one walk through four innings. Florida head coach Tim Walton relieved Delbrey in the fifth with senior Natalie Lugo.

With one out remaining, senior Kinsey Goelz checked into the game at second base to replace Hannah Adams. The seniors received a standing ovation from fans, saluting the seniors for their contributions to the program. 

As Lugo worked two strikes on Wisconsin senior Morgan Kummer, Gators fans rose to their feet applauding the right-handed pitcher. 

“The thought didn’t even cross my mind, ‘Oh shoot this could be my last pitch [at home],” Lugo said. “It’s just bittersweet.” 

With this win, Florida advanced to the NCAA Super Regionals May 26-29 in Blacksburg, Virginia.

Contact Madeline Lawson at mlawson@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter @MadsLaws.

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