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Monday, May 20, 2024

Florida softball suffers loss against Mississippi State

A sixth-inning home run from the Bulldogs lifted them over Florida 13-12

Florida right-handed pitcher Keagan Rothrock dominates in the circle during the Gators’ 9-1 win over Jacksonville, Wednesday, February 14, 2024.
Florida right-handed pitcher Keagan Rothrock dominates in the circle during the Gators’ 9-1 win over Jacksonville, Wednesday, February 14, 2024.

A back-and-forth offensive showdown took place in Game 1 of the Gators softball team's fourth ranked opponent matchup. 

Despite the Gators leading by six going into the sixth inning, the Bulldogs offense reversed the odds in the bottom half of the inning. 

Freshman right-handed pitcher Keagan Rothrock started in the circle for Florida. She recorded four strikeouts and allowed eight runs before left-handed pitcher Olivia Miller subbed in the sixth.

Mississippi State scored three runs off Miller. Freshman right-handed pitcher Ava Brown subbed in with one out and two runners on base. On the first wild pitch, the Bulldogs’ third base runner scored.

Then with two outs, senior Paige Cook smashed a two-run homer to put the Bulldogs up 13-12.

It was all the No.17 Mississippi State Bulldogs (21-11, 1-6 SEC) would need to defeat the No. 10 Gators (29-5, 5-2 SEC) at Nusz Park.

Florida put the first run on the board in the top of the first inning. Redshirt senior shortstop Skylar Wallace was hit by a pitch and sophomore catcher Jocelyn Erickson drove her home with a single to right field.  

Brown led off the top of the second with her sixth solo home run of the season.

In the circle, Rothrock started strong with back-to-back 1-2-3 innings, recording three strikeouts. However, Rothrock fell into trouble as the Bulldogs offense threatened in the bottom of the third.

MSU freshman infielder Salen Hawkins smashed a solo home run to right field to put the first run on the board. With two outs, the Bulldogs added three more runs to extend the lead to 4-2.

Florida responded and immediately regained the lead with an explosive fourth inning. With the bases loaded, a hit by a pitch and a walk brought the game to a tie.

Junior infielder Reagan Walsh battled in the box. On the ninth pitch of the at-bat, she drove two runs home with a double to the center field gap. Junior left fielder Korbe Otis stole home to add to the lead before MSU freshman pitcher Delainey Everett recorded a strikeout to end the frame. 

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The Bulldogs responded with a double down the left-field line to drive two runners home and cut the deficit to 7-6.

In the top of the sixth inning, the Gators bounced back, recording five runs off five hits to extend the lead to 12-6. Back-to-back singles by junior center fielder Kendra Falby and Wallace led the frame. Then, Otis tripled to right field to bring the pair home.

Walsh then singled to center field to score Otis. With one out, senior Baylee Goddard subbed in as a pinch hitter and was hit by a pitch on her first swing.

Although her hands came in contact with the ball, she shook it off and stepped back into the box. On the first pitch, Goddard smashed a two-run home run to extend the lead to 12-6.

Despite the offensive run, the bottom of the sixth inning was the difference maker, losing their lead Florida was unable to tie the game in the seventh.

Next, Florida will play Game 2 of the series at 5 p.m. Friday.

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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