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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

No. 2-seed Florida softball defeats No. 7-seed Georgia in SEC quarterfinals

The Gators recorded three home runs in the matchup

Florida softball freshman pitcher Keagan Rothrock fields a ball in the Gators' 3-0 loss to the Oklahoma State Cowgirls on Monday, February 19, 2024.
Florida softball freshman pitcher Keagan Rothrock fields a ball in the Gators' 3-0 loss to the Oklahoma State Cowgirls on Monday, February 19, 2024.

The Florida softball team finished its regular season conference slate with a series sweep against No. 8 Texas A&M at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium, allowing the Gators to secure the No. 2-seed for the Southeastern Conference Tournament.

Due to poor weather conditions, the Gators softball quarterfinals matchup against the No. 7-seed Georgia was postponed to Friday morning. After an hour and a half delay, both teams endured a seven inning battle.

The Bulldogs entered the matchup after defeating No.10-seed Auburn in walk-off fashion 6-5 Wednesday night. However, the Gators gave UGA all they could handle when the two squads squared off.

The Gators’ (44-12, 18-7 SEC) outstanding offensive production allowed UF to defeat the Georgia Bulldogs (39-16, 12-12 SEC) 9-6 in Auburn, Alabama, to clinch a semifinal spot in the SEC Tournament.

Florida took the first lead of the contest in the bottom of the first inning. Junior left fielder Korbe Otis drew a walk and redshirt senior Skylar Wallace sent a ball beyond the center field wall for a two-run home run.

The next three innings were scoreless as both teams fought back and forth to keep runners off the diamond. Leading the way for Florida was freshman right-handed pitcher Keagan Rothrock who allowed just one walk and one hit to keep Georgia scoreless.

However, the Bulldogs bats came alive in the top of the fifth inning. UGA freshman infielder Emily Digby tied the game with a deep two-run home run to right field. 

The Gators immediately responded in the bottom half of the fifth. Freshman second baseman Mia Williams led off with a hit by pitch and Otis followed with a walk. On a full count, Wallace drove in Williams with an RBI single off the left field wall.

SEC player of the year, UF sophomore catcher Jocelyn Erickson, then stepped up to the plate. With only one out, she crushed a three-run home run to the trees in right field to put the Gators ahead 6-2.

Georgia refused to go down without a fight and applied pressure with back-to-back solo home runs to cut the deficit to 6-4 in the top of the sixth. With no outs and runners on first and second, freshman pitcher Ava Brown relieved Rothrock.

Brown came up big time and recorded a strikeout looking to escape the frame.

In the bottom of the sixth, Florida kept its offense rolling while bringing quality at bats to the plate. Freshman third baseman Ariel Kowalewski drew a walk and senior pinch hitter Emily Wilkie drove Kowalewski home with her first home run of the season.

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With two outs, Otis tripled down the right field line and Wallace drove her in for her fourth RBI of the game to extend Florida’s lead to 9-4.

In the final inning, Georgia had the opportunity for a late rally with the bases loaded and no outs. Though, Brown did not go down without a battle. She recorded three consecutive outs to escape the jam and secured the Gators a spot in the SEC semifinals.

Next, Florida will compete in the SEC Tournament Semifinals in Auburn, Alabama Friday evening. The time is to be announced.

Contact Hailey Hurst at hhurst@alligator.org. 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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