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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Florida softball takes Game 1 of Super Regionals against Baylor

The Gators defeated the Bears 4-2

The Florida Gators softball team met junior left fielder Korbe Otis at the plate after she hit a solo home run during the Gators' 4-2 win over Baylor on Friday, May 24, 2024.
The Florida Gators softball team met junior left fielder Korbe Otis at the plate after she hit a solo home run during the Gators' 4-2 win over Baylor on Friday, May 24, 2024.

The Florida softball team brought home the NCAA Regionals Championship after defeating Florida Gulf Coast and South Alabama twice to advance to the Gainesville Super Regional. 

The Gators faced the Baylor Bears in Game 1 of the series. Florida hosted Super Regionals at the Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium for the first time since 2021.

The Bears are one of two unseeded teams remaining in the 16-team field. Its junior pitcher Aliyah Binford led in the circle and threatened the Gators with offspeed pitching. She allowed just two hits and kept the Gators scoreless in four innings. But it wasn’t enough to hold UF back.

“Be confident, be committed – stay focused,” head coach Tim Walton said. ”Do a good job of being a good team. I think that’s the key.”

The Florida Gators’ offense (50-12) defeated the Baylor Bears (35-22) 4-2 Friday afternoon.

Baylor threatened the Gators’ defense early and took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. UF freshman right-handed pitcher Keagan Rothrock recorded a walk and allowed one run off three hits. Faced with two outs and bases loaded, she forced a flyout to escape the jam.

“Giving up a run in the first inning isn’t the greatest feeling as the home team,” Rothrock said.

Florida’s offense immediately responded in the bottom half of the inning. Junior left fielder Korbe Otis reached via a hit by pitch, and redshirt senior shortstop Skylar Wallace earned a walk. 

UF sophomore catcher Jocelyn Erickson added to her 78 RBIs record. She smashed an RBI double down the left field foul line to tie the game 1-apiece. 

Florida didn’t stop there. Senior right-fielder Katie Kistler recorded a two-run double to the left-center field wall to extend the lead to 3-1.

“We get punched in the face, we punch back twice,” Walton said.

Kistler’s RBI drove in Wallace and extended Wallace’s run record to 303, the most career runs in Division I History.

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The Bears’ Binford soon responded to cut the score deficit to 3-2 with a solo home run over the left field wall in the top of the third inning.

Rothrock and the Gators’ defense kept the Bears scoreless through the next four innings. Rothrock, who’s started the last seven games, only allowed two hits.

“I think just knowing that the first inning of my first super regional is done [helped me settle back in],” Rothrock said. “Knowing that my offense has my back, and I was able to go out there. Have fun and play free.”

Defensively, Erickson threw out her 13th runner of the year to cap the scoreless frame in the top of the fourth. Wallace retired the top of the fifth in order 1-2-3 with two ground outs and a lined out.

Otis highlighted the top of the fifth inning with a solo home run. Faced with a full count, she golfed the ball over the left-center field wall to extend the lead to 4-2.

“Her change up was working well today, and I think we just made adjustments to see it a little better,” Otis said. “It helped in that last at-bat.”

Next, Florida will face Baylor in Game 2 Saturday at 11 a.m. at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium. The Gators stand one win away from punching their ticket to the Women's College World Series.

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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