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Friday, August 19, 2022

Florida softball advances to SEC Semifinals with an explosive 9-3 win over Kentucky

Gators’ offense was unstoppable with nine runs and 11 hits in a dominant victory

<p>Skylar Wallace drilled a home run in Florida&#x27;s 9-3 quarterfinal win over Kentucky.</p>

Skylar Wallace drilled a home run in Florida's 9-3 quarterfinal win over Kentucky.

Skylar Wallace barreled up an off-speed pitch on the outside corner of the plate, driving it more than 220 feet past the center-field wall. 

The redshirt junior shortstop blasted the 0-1 offering from Kentucky pitcher Alexia Lacatena to earn her sixth home run of the season. The bomb ties her with freshman Reagan Walsh for the team-high in homers. 

The Gator fans were given more than just a solo homer to cheer about, though. 

Walsh showed off more of Florida’s young talent, going 3-4 on the day and plating three of the Gators’ runs. 

The No. 5 Gators (42-15, 13-11 SEC) dominated No. 4 Kentucky (35-17, 13-11 SEC) in the Southeastern Conference Tournament quarterfinal matchup Thursday, posting nine runs on 11 hits. 

Wallace, who has struggled recently at the plate, going 6-26 in the previous 10 games, proved she hasn’t lost her touch. 

“I was just telling myself to really sync up my hands and my legs,” Wallace said. “My swing’s good, just got to get on time.”

Kentucky pitchers struggled early to find the zone. With three pitching changes in the first two innings, UK head coach Rachel Lawson had a revolving door of pitchers and made five pitching changes total. 

After giving a deep Wildcat pitching staff a difficult showing, Walsh feels confident facing more SEC opponents. 

“It [pitching changes] definitely gives me a lot more confidence, Walsh said. “Just being around college softball your confidence goes up and down, but getting these moments with your team, celebrating everything, definitely boosts your confidence.”

Kentucky sophomore Erin Coffel and senior Renee Abernathy combined for 30 home runs on the season compared to Florida’s team total of 30. 

UF senior pitcher Elizabeth Hightower only allowed one home run from the powerful Wildcat bats. Junior left-handed pitcher Rylee Trlicek checked into the circle in relief for Hightower in the bottom of the fifth and secured the win for Florida. 

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Trlicek now has the lowest ERA on the team with an impressive 1.86.

UF head coach Tim Walton praised his players for being resilient and putting pressure on its opponent.

“We won every single inning tonight,” Walton said. “We pretty much hang our hat on our defense.”

The orange and blue look ahead to the Semifinals Friday evening at 5:30 against the winner of No. 8 Ole Miss and No. 1 Arkansas. 

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

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