Special report on the Florida Gators softball team:
OXFORD, Miss. – The No. 9 Florida softball team secured a 7-4 victory over Ole Miss in the series opening game Thursday night at the Ole Miss Softball Complex. UF’s offense produced 10 or more hits for the 16th time this season in the win.
The Gators (32-9, 9-7 SEC) bested the Rebels (29-11, 5-8 SEC) behind performances at the plate by Skylar Wallace (3-for-3), Charla Echols (2-for-3), Katie Kistler (2-for-4), Kendra Falby (2-for-3) and Cheyenne Lindsey (1-for-3).
The Orange & Blue offense opened the scoring in the top of the 3rd inning of play when the batters strung together three hits to score two runs and take a 2-0 lead. Falby started the rally with a one-out infield single to short, which turned the lineup over to Wallace.
Wallace followed up with another infield single to Ole Miss’ shortstop to keep the inning going. The Rebels were able to force a flyout to left field, but Echols produced the Gators first extra-base hit of the game via a two-RBI double to left center field.
Florida extended its lead to 7-0 in the top of the 4th inning with a five-run outburst. Lindsey led off the inning with a single to right field on the first pitched offered from Ole Miss starting pitcher Catelyn Riley (7-3). A defensive miscue by Mikayla Allee on a fielder’s choice groundball by Sam Roe back to Riley in the circle allowed Lindsey to reach second base and Roe to first.
Kistler went on to load the bases in the following at-bat with an infield single to Allee at short. After an infield fly was recorded for the first out, Falby struck the 2-2 offering and sent it to right center field to score Lindsey and Roe and extend the lead out to 4-0.
Wallace followed up to clear the bases with another two-RBI double down the left field line that scored Kistler and Falby. Wallace then went on to cap the frame as she scored from third on a wild pitch after the Rebels brought in Savannah Died Erich to replace Riley in the circle.
Elizabeth Hightower (11-4) received the start in the circle for the Gators and cruised through 5.2 innings of work, but Ole Miss found their way onto the scoreboard with a four-run bottom of the 6th inning to close down Florida’s lead to 7-4. Hightower finished the frame for a full 6.0 innings worth of work and her 11th win of the season.
Fifth year graduate Natalie Lugo entered the game in the 7th inning and secured her second save of the season as she retired three of the four batters she faced.
The Gators and the Rebels will play their second game of the series Friday at 2 p.m. ET at the Ole Miss Softball Complex.
* Florida’s offense churned out 10 or more hits for the 16th time this season.
* It’s also the fifth game this season the Gators have achieved the feat in Southeastern Conference play and it’s back-to-back games with 10 or more hits against an SEC opponent.
* Skylar Wallace (3-for-3), Charla Echols (2-for-3), Katie Kistler (2-for-4) and Kendra Falby (2-for-3) each tallied multi-hit games tonight. Those Gators added to their multi-hit game totals:
* Falby – 18 games
* Wallace – 12 games
* Echols – 7 games
* Kistler – 7 games
* Wallace also extended her hit-streak out to eight games, which ties her career-long of eight that she produced from Feb. 11-19, 2022 and the 3-for-3 performance tied her career-high for hits which she has achieved four times in her career.
* The Woodstock, Ga. native also stole her 34th base of the season, which puts her just two shy of the UF single-season record of 36 set by Kelsey Stewart in 2013 & 2014.fl