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Sunday, September 24, 2023

Florida fell to Kentucky in second game to even weekend series

Echols set new career-high with 61 RBIs in 2023 season

Florida outfielder Kendra Falby jumps and catches a ball in the outfield in the Gators' 8-7 win against the Georgia Bulldogs Saturday, April 15, 2023.
Florida outfielder Kendra Falby jumps and catches a ball in the outfield in the Gators' 8-7 win against the Georgia Bulldogs Saturday, April 15, 2023.

Kentucky graduate student pitcher Kennedy Sullivan walked redshirt junior shortstop Skylar Wallace as the Gators trailed by four in the top of the fourth.

Florida graduate student third baseman Charla Echols then homered to left-center to bring Wallace home for the Gators’ first two runs of the game. She set a new career-high of 61 RBIs in a single season, but her efforts weren’t enough to lift UF to victory.

The No. 16 Florida Gators (35-18, 11-12 SEC) lost to the No. 23 Kentucky Wildcats on the road Saturday afternoon in John Cropp Stadium. The Wildcats’ win evened the weekend series against the Gators.

Sullivan started in the circle for the Wildcats. Wallace singled to third base for Florida’s first hit of the game. Echols then lined into a double play, and Wallace was caught out to end the top frame of the first.

Wildcats graduate student catcher Kayla Kowalik singled up the middle and advanced to second after junior infielder Erin Coffel was walked by UF sophomore right-handed pitcher Lexie Delbrey. Sophomore outfielder Taylor Ebbs grounded out to third base via a sacrifice bunt to advance Kowalik and Coffel.

Delbrey let up a walk with the bases loaded after she hit junior infielder Grace Lorsung with a pitch. Kowalik scored, and the Wildcats took the lead to end the first inning.

Sullivan held the Gators scoreless through the top frame of the second after Florida hit two groundouts and a fly out to end the half. Kentucky junior outfielder Vanessa Nesby singled through the left side and advanced to second when sophomore infielder Margaret Tobias grounded out via a sacrifice bunt.

Delbrey walked Coffel and then gave up another walk to Ebbs to load the bases, but the Wildcats failed to score when Sullivan struck out swinging to end the second inning.

Florida was held scoreless again in the top frame of the third by Sullivan. Lorsung singled through the left side, and senior outfielder Rylea Smith pinch ran for her. Smith was then brought home by redshirt freshman Jenna Blanton for the Wildcats’ second run when she reached on a fielder's choice.

Delbrey then hit freshman utility player Karissa Hamilton with a pitch; she advanced to second after Nesby singled to the catcher. UF senior left-handed pitcher Rylee Trlicek replaced Delbrey in the bottom to keep Kentucky from reaching home.

Moments after the switch, Kowalik flied out to left field, and Blanton scored to extend the Wildcats’ lead to 3-0. Coffel singled up the middle, Nesby advanced to second, and Hamilton scored to push the lead to 4-0 to end the third inning.

Sullivan walked Wallace to begin the top frame of the fourth; she was brought home by Echols after she homered to left-center to bring Florida within two, 4-2. Sullivan gave up another walk to junior catcher Emily Wilkie, but senior utility player Sarah Longley failed to bring in another run to end the top half.

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Lorsung singled to right field and advanced to second when Blanton reached on a fielding error by Gators sophomore second baseman Reagan Walsh. Both Lorsung and Blanton advanced on a wild pitch from Trlicek. Harrison grounded out to second base, and Lorsung scored to extend their lead to 5-2 to end the fourth inning.

UF junior outfielder Katie Kistler singled up the middle and advanced to third after junior first baseman Avery Goelz singled up the middle. Sophomore center fielder Kendra Falby tripled to left field and brought Goelz and Kistler home to end the half down by one run. Trlicek and the Gators’ defense held Kentucky scoreless to close out the fifth inning.

Florida and Kentucky were left scoreless through the entire sixth inning.

Falby tripled to center field to start the top frame of the seventh, and Wallace brought Falby home after she flied out to center field. The Gators were in the lead, 6-5, for the first time in the game.

Trlicek was replaced by graduate student right-handed pitcher Elizabeth Hightower to begin the bottom half. Tobias singled up the middle and advanced to third when Kowalik doubled to left field. Hightower walked Coffel and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Kowalik advanced to third, and Tobias scored to tie the game at six.

Ebbs flied out to right field, and Kowalik scored to give Kentucky a 7-6 victory and even the series against the Gators.

UF will finish its series against Kentucky at 2 p.m. Sunday. The game will be streamed on ESPN2.

Contact Alyssa Britton-Harr 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 spending time with her friends. 

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