Echols powers Florida to victory over Georgia

A special report from the UAA on the Florida Gators softball team:

ATHENS, Ga. – No. 5 Florida captured the series with an 8-1 victory against No. 20 Georgia Monday night at Jack Turner Stadium. It’s the fourth-straight Southeastern Conference series victory of the season.

The Gators (27-4, 10-2 SEC) picked up the win over the Bulldogs (23-7, 4-5 SEC) behind solid pitching performance from left-handed starter Katie Chronister (6-1) and a multi-home run performance by junior Charla Echols (2-for-2).

Echols put the Gators on the board first for the second consecutive game with a two-run home run in the 1st inning of play. Echols drove home Hannah Adams, who reached via a bunt single, when she lifted 3-2 pitch offered from Mary Wilson Avant (12-3) over the right field wall.

Florida plated one more run in the frame to take a 3-0 lead on a bases loaded RBI groundout by Avery Goelz. Goelz drove home Julia Cottrill on a groundball that deflected off of Avant’s glove in the circle out to Sydney Kuma at second base.

Echols extended the Gators lead to 4-0 in the 3rd inning with her second home run of the game. The Newnan, Ga. native blasted the 2-1 pitch over the center field wall for her second multi-home run game of the season and fourth of her career.

Georgia broke onto the scoreboard and closed down the Florida lead to 4-1 in the home half of the 3rd inning via a solo home run to center field by Savana Sikes.

The Gators responded in the top of the 4thinning with a pair of runs to extend the lead out to 6-1 over the Bulldogs. Sarah Longleyled off the inning with a key full-count walk and was able to advance to third on a fielding error during Cheyenne Lindsey’schopper up the middle to shortstop Ellie Armistead.

With runners on the corners, Lindsey proceeded to steal her team-leading 11thbase of the season during Adams’ at-bat. Adams drove home Longley on a groundout back to Avant in the circle and Lindsey moved over to third in the process.

Kendyl Lindaman scored Lindsey in the next at-bat on what was determined an RBI fielder’s choice check swing that pushed the ball slowly down the first base line. Georgia first baseman Lacey Fincher picked up the ball and threw home in an attempt to retire Lindsey, but was late and she opted not to tag Lindaman running to first.

Florida made the call to the bullpen in the bottom of the 5th inning and brought in Natalie Lugo (3). Lugo inherited a 2-0 count to Armistead, who eventually ended up a first base via a walk. Armistead was erased from the bases shortly after when Julia Cottrill fired a skipping rocket to Longley who applied the tag at second. It was the sixth runner Cottrill threw out this season.

Lugo went on to finish the frame with a strikeout and a lineout to right field. The West Covina, Calif. native tallied her third save of the season as she retired six of the last seven batters she faced through the 6th and 7th innings.

After a 20-minute light delay in the bottom of the 6th inning, due to a power surge at Jack Turner Stadium, the Gators were able to tack on two more runs in the 7th inning of play. Jaimie Hoover singled through the right side to lead off the frame, but was retired on a fielder’s choice by Goelz.

Pinch-hitter Emily Wilkie put down an unexpected bunt single that caught the Georgia infield by surprise. Wilkie beat out the throw, but an error allowed Goelz to race to third.

Lindsey scored Goelz with a SAC fly to deep center field and Adams followed up to score Longley, who reentered the game, on an RBI single up the middle to close out the scoring.

Next up for the Gators is a doubleheader at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium against USF Wednesday, April 7, at 5 p.m. on the SEC Network +.

Notable Notes:

  • The Gators improved the 42-28 in the all-time series against Georgia and 20-10 when playing at Jack Turner Stadium.
    • With the win, Florida captured its fourth SEC series of the season and currently sit in second place in the conference standings.
  • Charla Echols blasted home runs in the 1st and 3rd innings for her second multi-home run game of the season and the fourth of her career.
    • Echols now has 11 multi-hit games on the year and eight multi-RBI games.
    • The Newnan, Ga. native hit .429 (3-for-7) in the series against Georgia with all three hits being home runs and recorded eight RBI and four walks.
  • Katie Chronister and Natalie Lugo limited Georgia’s offense to just five hits tonight.
    • The Gators pitching staff has held opponents to five hits or less in 26 of the 31 games played this season.
  • Kendyl Lindaman (19 games), Hannah Adams (16 games), Charla Echols (13 games) and Jaimie Hoover (10 games) all extended their reached base safely streaks tonight.
Bailiegh Carlton
A lifelong sports fan, Bailiegh Carlton knew from a young age that she wanted to work in sports in some capacity. Before transferring to the University of Florida to study journalism, she played softball at Gulf Coast State College. She then interned for Gator Country for three years as she worked toward her degree. After graduation, Bailiegh decided to explore other opportunities in the world of sports, but all roads led her right back here. In her time away, she and her husband welcomed a beautiful baby girl into the world. When she isn't working, she can almost always be found snuggled up with sweet baby Ridley, Cody and her four fur babies.