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Monday, March 20, 2023

Florida suffers run-rule loss to UCLA for first defeat of season

Bruins’ stellar pitching kept Gators hitless

Florida pitcher Rylee Trlicek prepares to pitch the ball in the Gators' 11-0 win against the Jacksonville Dolphins Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023.
Florida pitcher Rylee Trlicek prepares to pitch the ball in the Gators' 11-0 win against the Jacksonville Dolphins Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023.

Gators softball was originally slated to travel to Palm Springs, California, Tuesday for the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic. The plane had issues, and the team flew out of Tampa Wednesday.

UF arrived on time for its first game of the classic but left its offense in Gainesville.

The No. 3 Florida Gators (10-1) suffered a 10-0 loss — their first of the season — against the No. 1 UCLA Bruins (13-0) after four and a half innings Thursday. UF didn’t record a single hit and had three different pitchers in the circle.

UCLA redshirt senior pitcher Megan Faraimo started the first inning on a hot streak against Florida. She struck out three-straight Gators swinging to end the top of the first in less than 10 minutes.

Bruins sophomore utility player Savannah Pola was the first at-bat for UCLA against UF senior left-handed pitcher Rylee Trlicek. She smacked the ball deep into right field and made her way to third base. 

Bruins freshman utility player Megan Grant doubled to left to bring Pola home for the first run of the game.

Bruins freshman infielder Jordan Woolery pounded the ball to center field, and the Gators struggled to collect the ball. Grant scored, and UCLA finished the first inning up 2-0.

Florida got on base for the first time with a leadoff walk by Gators sophomore infielder Reagan Walsh to start the second inning. However, UF was struck out three-straight times to end the inning.

The No. 1 team in the nation continued to extend its hit count. Bruins redshirt junior catcher Alyssa Garcia scorched a ball between the first and second bases and claimed first.

Trlicek struggled in the circle. She threw a wild pitch that gave UCLA redshirt senior utility player Anna Vines the opportunity to advance to second base.

Florida head coach Tim Walton took a trip to check on his pitcher after Trlicek threw four balls to walk Bruins redshirt junior outfielder Janelle Meono.

UCLA redshirt junior utility player Maya Brady tripled two batters later to allow Pola and Vines to score.

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Trlicek didn’t finish the inning. Walton made another trip to the circle and called in Gators’ graduate student pitcher Samantha Bender as UF trailed 4-0 in the second inning.

Florida freshman infielder Kaila Pollard smacked the ball to right field at the top of the third, but the ball didn’t have enough air time to leave the ballpark. Meono caught the ball, and two quick outs immediately followed.

Bender brought consistency to Florida’s defense for the first time in the bottom of the third inning. She forced a ground out by Vines to close the inning. The ball rolled toward Gators graduate student third baseman Charla Echols, who fired the ball to first base for the out.

UF’s batting rotation made its first full cycle in the fourth inning. The first three batters of the rotation — sophomore catcher Sam Roe, Echols and Walsh — were called out one after the other at the top of the inning.

Bender threw a pitch to Brady, who hit the ball over Bender’s head and into center field.

The hit brought Meono, who was on second base, home to boost UCLA’s lead to 5-0 in the bottom of the fourth inning. Meono’s score was the first run UF’s right-handed pitcher allowed through 1.1 innings.

Grant went to bat after the run and opened the game up for the Bruins. She advanced to first after her hit grounded past Florida’s defense and into the outfield grass. Pola scored, and Bender exited the game.

Gators freshman right-handed pitcher Olivia Gigante replaced Bender in the circle for her fifth appearance of the season. The California native started her day in a bases loaded situation against UCLA fifth-year infielder Rachel Cid in the bottom of the fourth.

Gigante struck out Cid swinging. However, she later walked Garcia, which resulted in a run by Bruins junior outfielder Lauryn Carter.

UF couldn’t stop UCLA’s hitting power as it faced a potential run-rule defeat. Bruins freshman infielder Ramsey Suarez singled to the shortstop and brought in two runners. UCLA outfielders redshirt senior Kelli Godin and sophomore Lauren Hatch scored to give the Bruins a 9-0 lead.

Gigante allowed another run with two outs on the board. Ramirez smacked the ball to open grass in left center field to send Pinedo in for a run. Pola then grounded out toward Walsh, who threw to first to retire the inning.

Florida needed to score three runs to stay alive in the top of the fifth inning.

Gigante grounded out to the pitcher, who threw her out at first to escape a 3-2 count. The freshman’s at bat was the closest UF came to scoring a run in the inning.

Gators junior first baseman Avery Goelz struck out looking, and junior catcher Emily Wilkie allowed a changeup past her and struck out swinging.

The Gators were shut out through five innings and suffered their first loss of the season.

Florida will continue its time in the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic against California, Riverside, at 4 p.m. Friday. The game will be streamed on FLOSPORTS.

Contact Brandon Hernandez at Follow him on Twitter @BranH2001.

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Brandon Hernandez

Brandon Hernandez is a student at the University of Florida studying journalism. He is a writer for The Alligator, Gator Country and for PlugTalkSports. You can find most of his work on his Twitter (BranH2001) and on his podcast, “The Courtside Podcast,” on Spotify.

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