Friday night’s game against Auburn served as trial by fire for freshman pitcher Rylee Trlicek.
The Hallettsville, Texas, native stood strong in the circle for the Gators through seven innings in the first conference game of her collegiate career.
The No. 7 Gators picked up their first win in conference play Friday against Auburn, 6-0, at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.
Through the first two innings, Florida’s (19-4, 1-0 SEC) first SEC matchup was shaping up to be a classic pitcher’s duel.
Redshirt junior Lexi Handley started in the circle for Auburn (14-9, 0-1 SEC). After two innings, Handley had allowed two hits and no runs.
Trlicek held the Tigers to one hit and no runs in her first two innings.
But after that, Florida’s bats got so hot that Auburn’s coaching staff decided it was time for her to get out of the kitchen. In her place, senior Ashlee Swindle stepped into the circle. She wrapped up the fourth, procuring the last two outs of the inning.
In the bottom of the third, senior power hitter Kendyl Lindaman produced an RBI single to right field — tacking on another RBI Friday to her NCAA-leading career RBI count — to drive senior Jaime Hoover home to put the Gators up 1-0.
In the bottom of the fourth, Florida’s lineup rode the wave Lindaman set into motion, with three Gators running across home plate in the inning. One of those runs came from Hoover, whose first stolen base of the season pushed her team’s lead to 4-0.
In the bottom of the fifth, sophomore Cheyenne Lindsey knocked one of Swindle’s pitches to the back right wall of the stadium. She made a mad dash around the diamond all the way to third, driving freshmen Baylee Goddard and Julia Cottrill home and putting the Gators up 6-0 over Auburn. It was her second triple of the season.
The best performance out of Auburn’s pitching staff came from freshman KK Dismukes, who pitched the last 1.2 innings and was the only one to not allow a single hit. Of the 20 pitches she threw, 13 of them were strikes.
After five full innings of play, though, Trlicek had only allowed two Tigers to make contact at the plate. All night, she registered three strikeouts and allowed three hits from 24 batters.
While the Gators are off to a good start in their first SEC series of the season, it’s important to remember that they opened their last one against then-No. 10 Louisiana identically.
Game 1 ended with Florida besting the Ragin’ Cajuns 6-0. But after three games, it was the Ragin’ Cajuns that bested the Gators. They won the last two contests by a combined score of 14-11.
Coach Tim Walton expressed concern about series play after a tough Game 3 showing Sunday afternoon, citing a team’s inability to rely on spontaneity and secret weapons in three back-to-back meetings. Opening up SEC competition with three consecutive wins, however, would surely calm his nerves.
The Gators will be back in KSP Saturday night at 6 p.m. for Game 2 of the Auburn series.
You can contact Payton Titus at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @petitus25.