The Gators’ win over North Florida wasn’t quite the way they drew it up.
It wasn’t about the score as much as it was about the occasion.
They came in to their mid-week matchup against UNF looking to win comfortably in the newly renovated Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium’s regular-season home opener, especially after being overwhelmed in an 8-0 loss to Team Japan the previous night.
Did they win? Yes. Comfortably? Not quite.
Sophomore Natalie Lugo pitched six solid innings, and the Gators’ offense, despite hitting 2 of 11 with runners in scoring position, was just good enough to get the 3-1 victory over the Ospreys on Wednesday night.
“I think that throughout the fall and January and last weekend at USF, compared to last year, I think confidence has gone up a lot, so it feels good to start the season,” Lugo said.
Lugo struck out five batters, gave up one earned run and allowed only three batters to get on base in her six innings of work.
Florida picked up one run in each of the first two innings to grab a 2-0 lead it did not relinquish.
Following a walk to first baseman Amanda Lorenz, catcher Kendyl Lindaman blasted a pitch to left field for an RBI double to score Lorenz to give the Gators the 1-0 lead in the first inning. The hit was also Lindaman’s first RBI in front of a home crowd as a Gator.
“I’ve loved every single part of (being a Gator),” Lindaman said. “I’ve only been here for a little over a month, but it feels like I’ve been here for years, it feels like I’ve worn this jersey for years.”
Florida doubled its lead in the second inning with some small ball. Matthews led off with a single and moved to second after a bunt from shortstop Sophia Reynoso. She advanced to third on a single by third baseman Hannah Sipos before making it home on a sacrifice fly by second baseman Hannah Adams to make it 2-0.
Center fielder Alex Voss’ RBI double in the fifth inning seemingly put the game out of reach, but UNF got itself back into the game in the top of the sixth with a run of its own.
Pitcher Kelly Barnhill came in at the top of the seventh and shut down the Ospreys, striking out all three batters she faced to end the game.
The win also gives the 6-0 Gators a confidence boost heading into this weekend’s five-game Littlewood Classic in Tempe, Arizona.
“The key is, that we came out we got a W,” Coach Tim Walton said. “But the focus is we gotta get ‘em up for weights tomorrow, a little practice here, then we gotta get on a bus and get out of town again to get on the road and play another good tournament with some good teams on the road.”
Follow Brendan Farrell on Twitter @Bfarrell727 and contact him at [email protected].