Florida graduate student third baseman Charla Echols doubled to right center for the first hit of the game. Her double set sophomore infielder Reagan Walsh and graduate student utility player Pal Egan up with an opportunity to take an early lead.
Walsh and Egan hit back-to-back home runs to give the Gators a first inning lead South Carolina failed to overcome.
The No. 13 Florida Gators (26-8, 4-4 SEC) blew past the South Carolina Gamecocks (25-9, 2-6 SEC) Saturday afternoon at Carolina Softball Stadium in Columbia, South Carolina.
Gamecocks freshman pitcher Jori Heard started in the circle Saturday. Heard began the top of the first with a strikeout to Florida junior shortstop Skylar Wallace.
Echols doubled to left field after Wallace’s strikeout. Walsh brought Echols home after she homered to left field to put the Gators up 2-0.
Egan’s hit flew out of the ballpark for Florida’s second home run of the game to push UF’s lead to 3-0.
The Gamecocks replaced Heard with senior pitcher Karen Ochs in the top half to try and keep UF from scoring any more runs. Ochs induced Florida senior utility player Sarah Longley into a popup to end the top of the first.
Gators graduate student right-handed pitcher Elizabeth Hightower left the Gamecocks scoreless to end the bottom half of the frame. Hightower stranded two runners after she hit South Carolina junior catcher Jen Cummings with a pitch.
Wallace singled to center field. She was later caught out at second after sophomore outfielder Kendra Falby hit a pop-up that ended the top of the second. Florida held South Carolina scoreless to end the inning.
Hightower and the Gators' defense didn't allow any runs even after the Gamecocks drew a two-out walk. Longley threw to Walsh to catch a runner stealing and end the third inning.
Hightower and the Gators kept South Carolina off the scoreboard through the first three innings.
Egan advanced to first after a pitch hit her to begin the top frame. Roe hit a sacrifice bunt and reached on a throwing error by Ochs. She advanced to second on another error from Ochs to graduate student catcher Jordan Fabian. Longley flied out to center field and brought Egan home to extend Florida's lead to 4-0.
Gators junior first baseman Avery Goelz singled to shortstop. Junior outfielder Katie Kistler singled up the middle to load the bases. Wallace singled to right field and brought Roe home to up the score to 5-0.
Falby walked with the bases loaded and brought Goelz home to push the Gators' lead to 6-0. Echols grounded into a double play, and Falby was caught out to end the top of the fourth.
Hightower started the top of the fifth with a strikeout to Cummings. South Carolina picked up its first hit of the day with a double to deep left field, but Echols erased the runner and left one stranded to end the top half.
Gamecocks sophomore infielder Brooke Blakenship reached on a fielder's choice to shortstop. The fielder’s choice brought sophomore outfielder Marissa Gonzalez home for South Carolina’s first run of the game in the fifth inning.
Wallace tripled to right center. Falby then singled to second base to bring Wallace home and extend Florida’s lead to 7-0 to end the half inning. South Carolina was held scoreless through the sixth inning.
Walsh singled to third base, and redshirt sophomore infielder Christina Wellen pinch ran for Walsh. Egan singled through the left side, and Wellen advanced to second. Roe then reached on a fielder's choice to shortstop, and Egan and Wellen advanced.
Longley brought Wellen home after she fouled out to right field. Her sacrifice fly pushed the Gators’ lead to 8-1 in the top of the seventh.
Hightower retired the side 1-2-3 to end the game with an 8-1 victory.
UF will finish the weekend series against the Gamecocks at 1 p.m. Sunday. The game will be streamed on ESPN+.
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.