Natalie Lugo

While Florida students enjoyed Spring Break, coach Tim Walton enjoyed dominant defense. 

The Gators downed Florida Gulf Coast on Wednesday night at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium by a final score of 3-1. The mid-week victory came fresh off of a tough weekend over No. 8 Louisiana-Lafayette, where Florida lost two out of three to the Ragin’ Cajuns. 

Pitcher Natalie Lugo stayed in the circle the entire game for the orange and blue. The junior continued a strong third-year campaign against the Eagles, as she allowed just four hits and one run. 

Lugo conceded a home run in the top of the first to FGCU’s Mikenzie Vaughn. With how quickly Walton has changed pitchers this season, it certainly felt possible that Lugo’s night may be cut short. 

However, her coach kept her out there and it paid off. After that initial home run, she kept FGCU off the scoreboard the rest of the game.

While Walton stuck with one pitcher all night, FGCU coach David Deiros cycled in multiple pitchers throughout the night. Four different pitchers saw action for the Eagles including right-hander Marissa Masiemore, who pitched three innings and was the only Eagle to stand in the circle for longer than two innings.

UF’s bats didn’t have the same heat that Lugo’s arm had, however, at least early on. Through the first four innings, only one run was scored for the Gators to keep the game even at one. But then in the fifth, Walton’s offense got moving. 

Throughout this season, Florida has relied heavily on youth, both in the circle, as well as in the batter’s box. While the pitching was more experienced today, the hitting needed a freshman to break the tie. 

Freshman Baylee Goddard hit her second home run of the season in the bottom of the fifth. It sent outfielder E.C. Taylor home as well to push Florida to a 3-1 lead. 

And unlike the Golden State Warriors in the 2016 NBA Finals, UF didn’t blow it. All it needed after that stint was Lugo to shut the door on the Eagles through the last two innings. 

She did so without worry, the right-hander didn’t allow a single hit after Goddard’s home run. 

This contest came between the series with Louisiana and a home series this weekend against Auburn. The games against the Tigers will be Florida’s fifth, sixth and seventh home game in a row. 

You can contact Graham Marsh at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @GrahamMarshUF.