Florida redshirt junior infielder Skylar Wallace got all of the ball as she homered deep to right field in the bottom of the fourth inning.
The ball landed in the hands of a spectator wearing a highlighter orange shirt. The Gators ran around the diamond to add two extra runs to UF’s lead over Stetson.
“Putting a good swing on the pitch — can’t complain about that,” Wallace said. “I wasn’t even trying to hit a home run, it just happens.”
The No. 11 Florida Gators (25-7, 3-3 SEC) defeated the Stetson Hatters (18-16, 2-4 ASUN) 8-0 via run rule through six innings at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium Wednesday. Florida homered four times and earned its 11th shutout of the season.
Stetson sophomore outfielder Haley Fox grounded to third and was thrown out to start the in-state matchup.
Gators sophomore pitcher Lexie Delbrey began the opening frame on the wrong foot. She walked Stetson senior outfielder Alyssa Gilman and junior infielder Evette Morgan after Fox’s out.
UF’s defense stepped up to finish the top of the first inning. Wallace caught a ball outside the foul third-base line in stride to end the half inning.
Junior pitcher Lauren Hobbs started in the circle for the Hatters.
After Stetson’s defense forced two consecutive outs, the power hitting of UF graduate student Charla Echols and sophomore infielder Reagan Walsh combined for a one-two power punch.
The Gators hit back-to-back home runs to center field.
Florida left the first inning with two hits and a 2-0 lead.
Stetson junior infielder Briana Robinson singled to the left-field wall for the Hatters’ first hit in the top of the second inning. The single was the only hit Delbrey allowed in the inning.
Gators senior utility player Sarah Longley whacked the ball on a straight line past the left-field wall for UF’s third solo home run of the game in the bottom of the second.
Florida was back at the top of the order after junior first baseman Avery Goelz was thrown out. Wallace — who batted first for the Gators’ — pop flied out to left field to end the second.
UF’s defense produced two outs through two Hatter batters in the top of the third inning. However, Stetson left the inning with a hit via a Morgan single.
Hatters senior infielder Marissa Baxter grounded to third base and was thrown out to first for the final out of the half inning.
In the bottom of the third, Gators sophomore outfielder Kendra Falby and Walsh were on base with graduate student utility player Pal Egan at-bat. She beelined the ball to the left-center field wall for a double and scored Falby from second base.
Stetson didn’t allow any more hits after the run and struck out Longley looking to end the third inning; UF led 4-0.
Delbrey — who pitched two strikeouts and walked three Hatters through 4.1 innings — walked Hatters freshman outfielder Annabella McClerren with one out in the top of the fourth inning.
McClerren took advantage of a wild pitch by Florida’s right-handed pitcher and stole second base. The Gators’ defense came to her aid and grabbed an out off a pop fly by Hatters sophomore infielder Dylan Anthony to end the top of the fourth.
Hobbs struggled throughout the day in the circle. With UF junior catcher Emily Wilkie at first, Wallace ripped the ball deep to right field and past the wall for a two-run home run to extend Florida’s lead to 6-0.
The left-handed pitcher was replaced by a righty. Stetson freshman pitcher Caitlyn Kulczyski went in the circle for Hobbs. She finished the inning allowing no runs and one hit off a Falby single.
The Gators switched it up in the circle and brought in senior pitcher Rylee Trlicek with one out in the top of the fifth inning. She struck out Gilman swinging to finish the top of the inning and kept Stetson hitless.
The Hatters returned the favor and stopped UF from scoring a run within an inning for the first time. Gators freshman first baseman Olivia Gigante struck out swinging in her first at-bat to end the fifth inning.
Florida’s infielders kept Stetson from advancing to second base after Trlicek allowed Baxter to reach first off an error. Hatters junior outfielder Gianna Niemer hit a ground ball to third base, which resulted in a double play to end the top of the sixth.
UF redshirt sophomore outfielder Christina Wellen — who pinch hit for Wilkie — found herself pacing around the diamond after a single in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Wellen stole second base after her single. She then strolled to home plate after Falby singled to boost the Gators’ lead to 7-0.
Florida didn’t let Stetson leave the inning. Walsh singled to bring Falby home for the final run of the game.
UF beat the Hatters 8-0 in six innings due to the run rule. The victory marks the first time Florida won through six innings since March 5 against Bucknell.
“I thought it went all good,” Florida head coach Tim Walton said about the Gators’ defensive performance. “Lexie (Delbrey) did a good job, but the tone was set up obviously tonight by the offense.”
The Gators will pack for the road to face the South Carolina Gamecocks in Columbia, South Carolina, at 6 p.m. Friday. The game will be streamed on SEC Network+.
Contact Brandon Hernandez at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @BranH2001.
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.