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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Florida softball continues to roll with Game 2 victory

The Gators recorded three home run hits

Florida right-handed pitcher Ava Brown executes in the circle during the Gators' 10-0 win over Indiana Hoosiers on Sunday, March 17, 2024.
Florida right-handed pitcher Ava Brown executes in the circle during the Gators' 10-0 win over Indiana Hoosiers on Sunday, March 17, 2024.

What started as a sunny afternoon at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium turned into a short weather delay at the top of the third inning.

But the rain did not stop the Florida Gators as they continued their offensive production through the lineup Saturday afternoon. 

After a scoreless second and third inning by both teams, freshman second baseman Mia Williams led Florida in the fourth. On the first pitch, Williams drove her third home run of the season to deep center field. With bases loaded and back-to-back walks, the Gators extended their lead to 6-1.

Williams said having fun rather than trying too hard to execute something in the box has given her better confidence.

“Going back to my process, remembering how hard I practice and trusting myself is the main thing,” she said. “Stay loose and have fun up there.” 

The sky cleared as Florida headed into the bottom half of the sixth. With two strikes on her count, junior third baseman Reagan Walsh stayed calm. On the third pitch, Walsh smashed the ball to the top of the scoreboard for a two-run home run.

Senior pinch hitter Baylee Goddard kept the rally going. On a full count, Goddard delivered a home run to the top of the pitching lab in left field. The stands filled with fans celebrating as the Gators earned the second victory of the series.

The No. 10 Gators (26-4, 4-1 SEC) defeated the No. 23 Kentucky Wildcats (20-9, 0-5 SEC) 9-1 at home Saturday afternoon.

Freshman right-handed pitcher Ava Brown started in the circle for Florida but fell into early trouble as the Wildcats offense threatened the Gators. Kentucky led off with a walk and hit by pitch. 

With no outs, Kentucky freshman infielder Ally Hutchins singled up the middle to score the second base runner for the first run of the game, but that’s all the Wildcats would manage in the next six innings.

Redshirt senior shortstop Skylar Wallace delivered the second out by a rundown between third and home plate. Then Brown forced a fly out to strand a pair of runners.

Brown said the first inning was rough for both sides as they tried to establish the umpires strike zone.

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“After the first inning I had to communicate with my defense and I told them we have to throw it over the plate,” she said. “Establishing the zone for myself and trusting in them was the big key.”

Florida responded and immediately regained the lead. After back-to-back walks, sophomore catcher Jocelyn Erickson tied the game with a double to left center to score Wallace.

With bases loaded, senior right fielder Katie Kistler delivered a one-run single. The momentum continued as Walsh extended the lead to 3-1 from a sacrifice fly. 

Brown and the Gators’ defense locked in the next four innings and retired the frame 1-2-3. The defense was highlighted by Wallace who snagged a line drive at shortstop in the second and executed a double play at the top of the fourth. 

In the top of the fifth, junior left fielder Korbe Otis made a sliding flyout in short left field to keep Florida ahead.

In the sixth inning, Brown recorded the first strikeout of the game to end the frame.

Brown said knowing how good the defense has been and how many runs are scored per game, has made it easier to pitch and not worry about one earned run.

“When your offense is as dominant as ours and your defense is as dominant, it’s too easy to pitch because you never feel super pressured,” she said

Florida will meet Kentucky for the final game of the series on Sunday at noon in the Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.

Contact Hailey Hurst at Follow her on Twitter @haileyjhurst.

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Hailey Hurst

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.

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