If what Florida softball head coach Tim Walton wanted the game to be exciting to watch, there was no shortage of it in Friday’s SEC matchup against South Carolina. There were big hits, great fielding, and of course, disagreements among coaches and umpires. One of those disputes caused Coach Walton to be ejected from the stadium.
Among those big hits was freshman Bailey Castro’s first official career homerun. Before severe thunderstorms ended Wednesday’s games against Chattanooga early, Castro recorded her first homer when she knocked one over the left-center fence. Several weather delays, lightning and some hail later, the game was cancelled in the bottom of the fourth. In order for a game to count statistically, five innings must be completed. So, Castro’s homerun total was back to zero.
via Twitter – Bailey Castro: hit my first college homerun and it doesn’t even count #ihaterain
Although she was a little bummed about her homerun getting taken away, she rebounded quickly on Friday by smacking out another homer in the bottom of the first inning.
“She got one that counted,” assistant coach Jennifer Rocha said. “Super excited for her, she’s worked real hard to come back from her injury. Just great to see her out there taking good swings. She’s not going to hit a homerun when she comes up to bat. I think the fans might expect that. But she’s doing a great job, good work ethic, and I’m just happy to see her out there in a Gator uniform.”
In the first SEC series to take place in Gainesville, the Gators started off strong by scoring six runs in the second inning. Sophomore Cheyenne Coyle started the scoring splurge by hitting a single hit passed the short stop into left field. After junior Kelsey Horton was walked, Castro hit her first official bomb to put up three runs for the Gators.
Still in the bottom of the second with two outs and bases loaded, freshman Lauren Haeger smacked a double to left field that brought home all three runners to increase the lead to 6-0.
After a Sami Fagan RBI in the bottom of the third to make the score 7-0, the Gators took the field in the fourth inning. The one-sided scoring did not halt the intensity that corresponds with athletics, and Florida’s coach proved that.
With South Carolina’s Dana Hathorn on base, Kaela Jackson hit a double to center field. Hathorn rounded the bases and was headed home. Simultaneously, catcher Kelsey Horton had just caught the ball and proceeded to tag out Hathorn. Or that’s what Coach Walton thought.
Walton walked out on the field to confront the umpire. The arguing didn’t last long before and infuriated Walton started toward the dug out. When his back was turned, that’s when the ump gave his smallest ejection signal.
After Walton was told what happened, he approached the umpire again, but this time giving a perfect example of what an ejection signal should look like.
The audience erupted into applause.
The Gators continued their domination over South Carolina, even though that run ended any chance of a shut out. In the fifth inning the Gators scored two more runs to win the game by run rule.
Coach Walton wasn’t available for comment after the game, but assistant coach Rocha said, “Stuff like that happens. They did a good job of bouncing back and come back and get a good win for him.”
The Gators will take the field on Saturday at 1 p.m. for Game 2 of the series against South Carolina.
Gator Country reporter Darby Underwood can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow her on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/DarbyUnderwood.