The Gators’ offense defeated the Huskies with its six-walk third inning that produced six runs.
“The number of walks we had, we’re not looking to walk, we’re not looking to get hit by pitches, we just took what was given to us, " Florida head coach Tim Walton said.
The No. 3 Florida Gators (6-0) dispatched the Connecticut Huskies (2-3) 9-1 at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium Friday night.
At the top of the first inning, graduate student pitcher Elizabeth Hightower was on the mound when Huskies freshman second baseman Savannah Ring hit a popup into center field to advance to second base. Hightower ended the top of the first with a strikeout to keep UConn scoreless.
Florida sophomore infielder Kendra Falby stole second base and advanced to third after a throwing error by Huskies catcher Grace Jenkins. Gators junior shortstop Skylar Wallace grounded out to first base, which brought Falby home. UF led 1-0 to end the first inning.
Hightower and the Gators’ defense kept the Huskies scoreless through the top of the second inning.
Hightower’s strong pitching performances give the Gators the chance to win a lot of games, Walton said.
“I think her veteran experience, her positivity, her friends on the team, and people you can trust help her communicate,” he said. She is always rooting for everyone on the team.”
UF sophomore second baseman Reagan Walsh scored after junior first baseman Avery Goelz flied out to center field to up the score to 2-0 to end the second inning.
Hightower finished the top of the third with another strikeout against Ring.
Wallace then singled up the right side, which allowed both Falby and junior center fielder Katie Kistler to score.
Walsh walked, which allowed right fielder Baylee Goddard to score and extend the lead to 5-0. Sophomore designated player Sam Roe then walked, and Wallace scored with all three bases covered to push Florida’s lead to six.
Goelz reached on a fielder's choice with the potential for Florida to score, but graduate student third baseman Charla Echols got caught out on home base.
Kistler walked, and Walsh scored. Falby drew the sixth walk of the inning, and Roe scored to push the lead to 8-0 at the bottom of the third.
Hightower shut down the Huskies in the top of the fourth; she didn’t allow a run or error and kept them scoreless.
UConn sophomore pitcher Delaney Nagy kept the Gators scoreless for the first time in the bottom of the fourth.
Ring singled to left field, where sophomore right fielder Lexi Hastings scored for the Huskies’ only run of the game to end the top of the fifth inning.
Falby singled to left field where Goelz scored to up the lead to 9-1 in favor of Florida to end the fifth inning.
UF will take on Bowling Green at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium in Gainesville.
Alyssa Britton-Harr is a second-year journalism major and a sports reporter for The Alligator. In her free time, she enjoys cheering on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and spending time with her friends.