One came down to the final inning, the other was over in five.
In Florida’s two victories on Saturday in the Bubly Invitational at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium, Gators’ two games could not have looked more different. The first contest against North Dakota State, UF barely squeaked out 1-0. But in the second game against Longwood, Florida thoroughly dominated the Lancers 11-0.
The first six innings of the initial game against NDSU were a defensive struggle. Neither team came close to scoring with UF never getting any runners even to third base and the Bison only getting one.
“We try too hard sometimes,” coach Tim Walton said. “If we just trust in our hard work we’d probably be a much better offensive team, and probably a much better team overall.”
Florida pitcher Natalie Lugo had a strong showing in the circle, as only two runners ever got on base. But while the orange and blue’s defense shined, its offense did not.
Bison pitcher Paige Vargas was having about as successful of a day as Lugo was. The sophomore allowed just five hits through the entire contest.
But then the seventh inning happened.
With shortstop Sophia Reynoso on second, second-baseman Hannah Adams stepped up to bat with a chance to finally break the scoring seal. All she needed was a single. She smacked it down the left side past NDSU third baseman Sam Koehn to buy Reynoso enough time to get home.
The Gators barely squeaked another one past the Bison, despite beating them 5-0 on Friday.
The second game against Longwood, however, was much different.
Florida catcher Julia Cottrill hit a double in the first to send Adams home. And before the inning was over, designated hitter Jordan Roberts smacked a single toward first that sent third baseman Charla Echols, along with Cottrill, home.
Sophomore Elizabeth Hightower started in the circle for UF’s second game of the day, and she performed comparably to Lugo. She gave up just one hit for the entire game.
“Our pitchers do a great job getting us what we need on defense,” Adams said. “We pride ourselves on defense as a team.”
Longwood pitcher Arleigh Wood’s day was not so pleasant. Through four innings of action, she allowed five hits and seven runs.
Despite the brutal performance from Wood, her substitute, sophomore Angelina Sherba, was considerably worse. And that ultimately sealed the game for Florida.
With the Gators leading 4-0 in the bottom of the fourth, Wood gave up three runs before the mid-inning change. Sherba conceded then conceded four runs in her only inning of action. It pushed Florida’s lead to 11-0.
Three outs later, UF celebrated its second win of the day in a run-rule. It became the fourth win of the tournament for Florida and improved its regular-season record to 8-1. The Gators conclude the Bubly Invitational on Sunday, when they face Southeastern Louisiana at 11:30 a.m. and Florida A&M at 2 p.m.
Follow Graham on Twitter @GrahamMarshUF and contact him at [email protected].