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Monday, March 20, 2023

Florida softball blows past UC Riverside in Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic

Hightower closes out game with a shutout

Florida pitcher Olivia Gigante swings her bat in the Gators' 11-0 win against the Jacksonville Dolphins Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023.
Florida pitcher Olivia Gigante swings her bat in the Gators' 11-0 win against the Jacksonville Dolphins Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023.

The Gators swept past the Highlanders quickly during the first inning after Florida scored five-straight runs to move into the second inning.  

The No. 3 Florida Gators (11-1) blew past the California, Riverside, Highlanders (6-8) 7-0 Friday afternoon in Big League Dreams - Fenway Sports Park. This marked the Gators’ first win in the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic after their first loss of the season against the California, Los Angeles, Bruins Thursday. 

Junior shortstop Skylar Wallace wasn’t on the field Friday due to an illness, but the Gators still showed out with a seven-run win. 

Graduate student right-handed pitcher Elizabeth Hightower opened the game on the circle and left the Highlanders scoreless at the top of the first. UC Riverside senior utility player Lauryn Garewal was left stranded on third base and never found her way home. 

The Gators scored their first run after sophomore catcher Sam Roe hit a single to center field that allowed sophomore second baseman Kendra Falby to score. Freshman right-handed pitcher Olivia Gigante walked with the bases loaded, and Roe scored to extend the lead to 2-0. 

Junior first baseman Avery Goelz singled to left field to bring in two runs batted in. Graduate student third baseman Charla Echols and sophomore infielder Reagan Walsh crossed home plate to up the score to 4-0. 

Florida junior utility player Sarah Longley reached on a fielder's choice, and with the bases loaded, Gigante scored to extend the lead to 5-0 to end the first inning. 

Hightower and the Gators' defense kept the Highlanders scoreless, even after they picked up a walk. However, the walk was quickly erased with a 6-4-3 double play.

Freshman in-fielder Kaila Pollard doubled down the right-field line, which allowed both Gigante and Walsh to score. UF held a 7-0 lead at the bottom of the second. Florida continued to smash hits down the right-field line to sweep past UC Riverside. 

The Highlanders couldn’t get past the Gators' defense.They had multiple outs and a batter left on first base, but couldn’t score at the top of the third. Hightower ended the top of the fourth with a 1-2-3 inning. UC Riverside senior pitcher Briza Blanco didn’t allow a run in the bottom of the fourth.

The Highlanders had runners on first and second base with two outs in the fifth inning. Falby made a diving grab to keep UC Riverside off the scoreboard. Both teams failed to score in the sixth inning. Hightower finished her second shutout of the season to close out the game.  

UF is set to continue its time in Palm Springs, California, at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic at 1 p.m. Saturday against Oregon. The game will be streamed on FloSports. 

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Contact Alyssa Britton-Harr Follow her on Twitter @abrittonharr.

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Alyssa Britton-Harr

Alyssa Britton-Harr is a first-year journalism major and the softball reporter for The Aligator. When not writing, you can see her cheering on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, going to country concerts, and spending time with her friends.

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