If the USF-Rawlings Invitational were a rollercoaster, Saturday would have been the sudden, heart-wrenching drop for the Gators.
Friday night’s win over Illinois State (4-1) moved Florida up the track. On its way to the top, the Gators narrowly escaped Fresno State (6-4), inching further along. They paused at the top to take in the view before facing their first ranked opponent in No. 17 Michigan.
After one inning turned out a five-run deficit for Florida, the Gators experienced the drop of a lifetime.
Following an embarrassing 11-2 defeat at the hands of the Wolverines and three errors on Saturday, the Gators (4-1) needed a confidence boost in the form of a convincing 10-0 win over Georgia State (1-3) and a 6-1 victory over USF (0-4).
Senior power hitter Jordan Roberts and freshman Baylee Goddard helped accomplished just that.
Florida made its way back up the track with a win over Georgia State in five innings via run rule, 10-0.
After an 0 for 4 start to the weekend, Roberts’ first two hits of the game were homers. In the top of the fourth, she sent the ball sailing over the left-centerfield wall to put UF up 2-0. In the top of the fifth, she drove sophomore Charla Echols home, extending the Gators’ lead to 7-0.
Later in the inning, Goddard hit a three-RBI home run, allowing redshirt senior Sophia Reynoso and freshman E.C. Taylor to score.
Five runs in the fifth. Just like that, it was 10-0, Florida.
In her second college game, UF freshman Rylee Trlicek threw a no-hitter. After allowing three runs to Fresno State on Saturday, Trlicek had six strikeouts and, aside from a line drive, limited the Panthers’ hits to weak grounders, three of which she turned into outs herself.
Against the reigning AAC champion USF, junior Natalie Lugo, senior Katie Chronister and Trlicek stepped into the circle for the Gators and led the team to a 6-1 win over the Bulls.
On Saturday, Michigan earned four runs off Lugo. But on Sunday, she allowed only one. Chronister took over and threw one pitch that resulted in a walk with two outs in the bottom of the sixth. Trlicek relieved Chronister to end the inning with a pop out, and she wrap up the seventh.
Against All-American pitcher Georgina Corrick, junior Jordan Matthews and senior Jade Caraway each managed an RBI single in the first and second innings, respectively, putting the Gators ahead 2-0. Roberts smacked her third home run of the day in the top of the fifth against the Bulls, extending Florida’s lead to 4-0. She had nine over the course of the 2019 season. Echols, who coach Tim Walton compared to Amanda Lorenz throughout the offseason, wrapped up the game with a two-RBI homer of her own in the top of the seventh, driving senior Kendyl Lindaman home and putting USF away, 6-1.
Opening weekend brought high highs and early lows for the Gators. Surely, Walton and the rest of the program would like to see more consistency out of the young squad as the season progresses, but the USF-Rawlings Invitational was still a thrilling ride nonetheless.
Next up for UF is an exhibition game against Team USA at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium Tuesday night. Three former Gators, Michelle Moultrie, Kelsey Stewart and Aubree Munro, will return to Gainesville wearing red and white instead of orange with their blue.
Follow Payton on Twitter @petitus25 and contact her at [email protected].