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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Florida softball run-ruled South Alabama with explosive fifth inning run

The Gators defeated the Jaguars 9-1 to take Game 2

Florida junior left fielder Korbe Otis at bat during the Gators' 6-0 win over Florida Gulf Coast on Friday, May 17, 2024.
Florida junior left fielder Korbe Otis at bat during the Gators' 6-0 win over Florida Gulf Coast on Friday, May 17, 2024.

The Florida softball team was tied 1-1 against South Alabama in the bottom of the third in Game 2 of the NCAA Regionals, before severe lightning led to a three hour weather delay.

The delay had no effect on the Gators’ performance. Instead, they stepped back on the field and turned the game around.

“It’s not the most ideal situation because once you get rolling, you want to keep going,” redshirt senior shortstop Skylar Wallace said. “But it happens. Only the toughest players can deal with it and come out on top of it.”

Wallace did just that. She put the Gators ahead in the bottom of the fourth inning. UF junior left fielder Korbe Otis led off with a double, and Wallace produced an inside the park home run to center as the defender’s dive missed the catch.

“I turned the burners on and was like, alright I know coach Walton too well,” Wallace said. “I am scoring on this.”

The No. 4-seeded Florida Gators (48-12) run-ruled the South Alabama Jaguars (33-19-1) 9-1at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium, Saturday afternoon.

Florida’s fourth inning momentum carried into the bottom of the fifth, where it recorded six runs off four hits. With bases loaded, Wallace came through again and ripped a two-run single up center field to extend the Gators lead to 5-1. The Jaguars followed with their first pitching change.

“Every ball that’s thrown to her, it’s a line drive – doesn’t matter who’s throwing it, doesn’t matter the arm, doesn’t matter the person,” head coach Tim Walton said. “We’ve had some hot streaks before, but this is, this is pretty impressive.”

With two outs, UF senior right fielder Katie Kistler stepped up to the plate faced with another bases loaded situation. She cleared the bases with a line drive to the right center field gap.

“Knowing my approach - knowing what pitches I like, I go into the batter's box and focus on what I like,” Kistler said. “Just keeping it simple and doing what I know how to do.”

The Gators only needed one run to end the game, and third baseman Ariel Kowalewski made it happen. The freshman scored Kistler on an RBI single to right field.

South Alabama took the initial 1-0 lead from the start. Senior center fielder Mackenzie Brasher led off via a single to left field, and junior first baseman Gabby Stagner drove her home via an RBI single down the left field line. 

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The Jaguars attempted to continue the momentum in the top of the second inning after senior left fielder Bailey Welch singled off the right field wall. However, UF freshman second baseman Mia Williams turned a double play as she nabbed a line drive on a dive and made the throw to first. 

UF freshman right-handed pitcher Keagan Rothrock started in the circle for the Gators. She picked up her first strikeout of the game in the top of the third inning and ended the frame in order 1-2-3.

Florida had a slow start at bats as the Jaguars right-handed pitcher Olivia Lackie allowed just one walk through the first two innings. In the bottom of the third, freshman infielder Ava Brown tied the game 1-1 with a leadoff solo home run over the right field wall.

After the delay, Rothrock stepped back in the circle and allowed one hit by pitch to keep the Jaguars scoreless. The defense behind her recorded back-to-back flyouts and a ground out to end the top of the fifth in order.

“[It’s nice] being able to get out of this uniform and go enjoy some time with our families,” Wallace said. “We’ll see them [Florida’s opponents] Sunday morning.”

Florida is expected to play in the Championship round Sunday at noon at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium. Saturday weather delays may impact the starting time.

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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