A special report from the UAA on the Florida Gators softball team:
WHAT HAPPENED: Senior Hannah Adams lashed a double off the wall in center field that scored Cheyenne Lindsey all the way from first and gave the fourth-seeded Gators a walk-off win Friday in opening-round action of the NCAA Tournament’s Gainesville Regional at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium. Adams’ game-winner atoned for a tough afternoon from Florida hitters, who struggled to capitalize on scoring opportunities against Bulls All-American Georgina Corrick, while their own pitcher, Elizabeth Hightower, did not give up a hit in her six-plus innings of work. The Gators got runners in scoring position in each of the first six innings, including the leadoff hitter to second in the second, third, fourth and fifth. Corrick, though, put down each threat, as Florida went hitless in its 13 at-bats with runners in scoring position. USF used an error and walk in the top of the seventh to mount its lone threat of the game against Hightower, who was lifted for Katie Chronister, who benefited from a double defensive gem (read on) to get out of the inning and set up the game’s dramatic finish.
PLAY OF THE GAME: After UF coach Tim Walton made the pitching change from Hightower to Chronister, USF’s Bethany Keen bounced a single to center field for the Bulls’ first hit of the game. AnaMarie Bruni, trying to score from second, was gunned down at home on a great throw-and-tag combination from Lindsey to catcher Julia Cottrill. After the tag, Cottrill whipped a throw to third and Charla Echols put the tag on Brooke Hartman trying to advance from first to end the inning.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Hightower pitched 6.1 innings, gave up no hits, walked two and struck out six, though Chronister got the win. She threw five pitches.
STAGGERING STATISTIC: Of Florida’s first 22 plate appearances, 13 of them came with runners in scoring position. The Gators came away with no runs in those situations.
UP NEXT: One win down, two to go. The Gators (43-9) move into the regional winners’ bracket Saturday and face the survivor for Friday’s second game, pitting Baylor (27-21) against South Alabama (30-19). Whereas the victory was UF’s fifth in as many meetings against the Bulls this season, the Gators have yet to face either the Bears or Jaguars.
- Florida holds a 92-45 overall record in the NCAA Tournament and 45-19 in regional play after today’s win.
- The program also improved to 51-13 against USF all-time and are 5-0 against the Bulls this season.
- Today’s shutout is the 30th in 45 regional games since 2006. UF has outscored opponents during that span 143-24.
- The Gators produced their 8th walk-off of the season with Hannah Adams RBI base hit to center field that scored Cheyenne Lindsey with one out.
- This is Adams’ third walk-off of the season and the sixth overall of her career.
- Cheyenne Lindsey turned in her 14th multi-hit game of the season after she went 2-for-3 and scored the game winning run.
- Charla Echols extended her hit streak out to seven games and has now reached base safely in 34 consecutive games.
- The Gators are 11-3 now when playing on network television and also 35-1 when holding opponents to two runs or less.
- Today was the team’s 17th shutout of the season.
Head Coach Tim Walton
On Elizabeth Hightower’s performance…
“I thought Elizabeth was good. Her rise was good, her change was good. When she has depth in her change-up like that, she is tough to hit. She is throwing at three different speeds, and that makes it really difficult for a hitter to get comfortable in the batter’s box.”