Florida junior shortstop Skylar Wallace changed the game's momentum in the fifth inning. She tripled to center field to score sophomore center fielder Kendra Falby for the first run of the game.
Wallace focused on getting the ball into a good spot and into the zone, she said. Her triple sparked the Gators’ offense as two more runs were scored within the next inning.
“It was just controlling what I can control,” Wallace said. “Just keeping it really simple.”
Graduate student third baseman Charla Echols singled to center field moments later to score Wallace and give Florida a 2-0 lead against Central Florida.
The No. 8 Florida Gators (15-3) defeated the Central Florida Knights (10-13) 3-0 Wednesday night in Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.
Sophomore right-handed pitcher Lexi Delbrey started in the circle for Florida and kept the Knights scoreless through her five innings of action.
“Lexie Delbrey came back, and we really started to pick up the innings,” Florida head coach Tim Walton said.
She didn’t pitch at all last year, and with a few surgeries, she’s getting back to where she used to be, and stronger, he said.
Wallace walked to first base and then advanced to second after Echols reached on a fielder's choice. Knights junior first baseman Shannon Doherty caught the ball and threw it to second base. Wallace and Echols for the call to be safe. However, the Gators were left scoreless to end the bottom of the first.
Delbrey and the Gators kept the Knights scoreless with a 6-4 double play by Wallace and sophomore second baseman Reagan Walsh to end the top of the second. Freshman right fielder Kaila Pollard came close to a home run, but UCF caught the ball, and UF left the second inning without a run.
The Knights failed to score in the top of the third. Echols singled up the middle for the first hit of the game, but Florida ended the third inning with no runs scored.
Delbrey and the Gators’ defense left the Knights without any runs in the top of the fourth. Wallace forced freshman second baseman Aubrey Evans to ground out to shortstop to close the inning.
Knights junior right-handed pitcher Sara Willis kept the Gators from crossing home plate in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Florida started the top of the fifth with a 4-6-3 double play from Wallace to Walsh and then to junior first baseman Avery Goelz to keep UCF scoreless.
Wallace tripled to center field, and sophomore center fielder Kendra Falby; the center fielder previously reached on a fielder’s choice and stole second. The Gators took a 1-0 lead.
Echols singled to center field, and Wallace scored to push the lead to 2-0 in favor of Florida to end the fifth inning.
Delbrey stranded a pair of Knights with a strikeout to end the top of the sixth.
Pollard doubled to center field, and Goelz scored to extend the Gators’ lead to 3-0 to end the bottom of the sixth.
The Gators ended the game with a 3-0 advantage against the Knights and left them scoreless through seven innings.
Florida is set to play Mercer at 3:30 p.m. and Louisiana at 6 p.m. Friday to open the Bubly Invitational with a doubleheader in Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.
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.