On a 1-1 count in the bottom of the third inning, senior shortstop Skylar Wallace was in familiar territory. With the Gators softball team in a scoreless tie with the Oregon State Beavers, Florida needed a big hit.
Wallace, who has dozens of clutch hits in her collegiate career, broke the scoreless tie by launching a ball over the right-center field wall for a solo home run.
The home run put the Gators on top 1-0, and that’s all they needed to bring home their first win of the 2024 season.
The No.17 Gators (1-0) defeated Oregon State (1-1) 1-0 in Tampa at the USF-Rawlings Invitational.
The Gators’ starting lineup included returning junior outfielder Kendra Falby, Wallace, freshman third baseman Ariel Kowalewski and second baseman Mia Williams.
Freshman right-handed pitcher Ava Brown was in control for the Gators in her collegiate debut on the mound. Opening the first inning, Brown retired the side going 1-2-3.
Florida loaded the bases via a pair of walks and a fielding error in the bottom of the second, but could not bring a runner home. Beavers right-handed pitcher Logan Hulon struck out two Gators to get out of the jam.
Despite getting into trouble in the top of the fourth, Florida's defense converted a huge double play with the bases loaded to keep the Beavers off of the scoreboard.
Freshman right-handed pitcher Keagan Rothrock entered in the top of the sixth and made her collegiate debut. Rothrock recorded back-to-back strikeouts and forced an infield popup to work an easy inning.
In the bottom half of the inning, freshman Korbe Otis hit a line drive to the right-center wall for a double, getting her first collegiate hit. However, Otis was left on base as Hulon got her sixth strikeout and forced a flyout to left field.
Rothrock returned to the circle for the top of the seventh looking to earn the save. She did just that, getting the final two outs with back-to-back strikeouts. In two innings, Rothrock had four total strikeouts.
Florida improved to 5-0 against Oregon State.
UF will continue the USF-Rawlings Invitational on Saturday with a doubleheader. Florida faces Michigan at 2 p.m. and Illinois State at 7 p.m.
Hailey Hurst is a second-year journalism major with a focus in sports media and a sports reporter for The Alligator. In her free time, she enjoys going to the beach and cheering for Miami sports teams.