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Saturday, June 10, 2023

Falby, Echols lead Florida softball past Mercer

Echols batted in seven runs, Falby had four

Florida left fielder Kendra Falby swings her bat during the Gators' 3-0 win against the Central Florida Knights Wednesday, March 8, 2023.
Florida left fielder Kendra Falby swings her bat during the Gators' 3-0 win against the Central Florida Knights Wednesday, March 8, 2023.

Freshman right-handed pitcher Olivia Gigante hit the first home run of the game in the bottom of the first inning. However, her early success didn’t end there.

She hit another homer in the next inning to contribute to the Gators’ five-run second inning. The Mercer Bears were unable to overcome the second-set deficit, and Florida secured the home victory.

The No. 8 Florida Gators (16-3) defeated the Mercer Bears (6-16) Friday afternoon in Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium. Mercer head coach Lindsay Fico returned to Gainesville to play her former college team.

Graduate student third baseman Charla Echols tallied seven RBIs against Mercer. The total tied for the third-most RBis produced in a single game in program history. 

Sophomore center fielder Kendra Falby had a career day herself. She was 4-4 at the plate and scored four runs in Friday’s game.

Graduate student right-handed pitcher Elizabeth Hightower started in the circle for Florida. 

Hightower and the Gators' defense kept the Bears scoreless through the top of the first. Junior center fielder Katie Kistler caught a ball lined out to the center field by Bears senior designated hitter Kylie Helm to end the half inning. 

Falby singled to Bears senior catcher Sophie Sumner. She advanced to third after graduate student third baseman Charla Echols reached on a fielder's choice. 

Fably then scored after Sumner committed a throwing error to give UF a quick 1-0 lead. 

Gigante homered to left center and brought Echols home for two runs batted in. Her home run extended the Gators’ lead to 3-0 to end the first inning. 

Hightower ended the top of the second with a pair of strikeouts to keep the Bears scoreless. 

Kistler singled up the middle, and junior catcher Emily Wilkie walked. Falby singled toward Sumner and drew the bases. Wallace grounded out to second base, and Wilkie scored to push the lead to 4-0. 

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Echols homered to right field for three RBIs — bringing in Falby and Kistler — to give Florida a seven-point advantage. Gigante then homered to center field to tack on another run to end the second in mercy-rule victory territory. 

Helm flied out to center field and brought home junior center fielder Alyssa Woods for the Bears’ first run. Senior second baseman Bailey Ledvina singled through the left side, and senior shortstop Rebeca Laudino scored to bring Mercer within six runs to close the top of the third. 

Wallace was hit by a pitch and advanced to load the bases. Echols doubled to send Wallace, Falby and Kistler to home plate and secure an 11-2 lead. 

Gigante singled up the middle, and Echols scored to push the lead to 12-2. Graduate student utility player Pal Egan doubled down the left-field line to score senior utility player Bryn Thomas. 

UF led 13-2 to end the third inning. 

Laudino grounded out to Hightower, and sophomore outfielder Morgan Hall scored to bring the Bears within 10 to end the top of the fourth. Echols singled to shortstop, and Falby scored before Mercer took over in the top of the fifth. 

Graduate student right-handed pitcher Samatha Bender replaced Hightower on the circle to close the game. Bender successfully closed the game and didn’t give up a run to beat the Bears 14-3. 

Florida will continue their time in the Bubly Invitational Saturday with another doubleheader against Mercer at 11 a.m. and Louisiana at 1:30 p.m. The game against Louisiana Friday was suspended due to weather and will be rescheduled for 11:30 a.m. Sunday. 

Contact Alyssa Britton-Harr abritton-harr@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter @abrittonharr.

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Alyssa Britton-Harr

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 attending country concerts. 


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