Special report on the Florida Gators softball team:
CATHEDRAL CITY, Calif. – The No. 3 Florida softball team defeated UC Riverside, 7-0, Friday afternoon during the second day of the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic held at the Big League Dreams park.
The Gators (11-1) responded with seven runs on 11 hits in the game against the Highlanders (6-8), who notched only five hits thanks to the complete-game effort from the circle by Elizabeth Hightower (6-0). The Monticello, Fla. native’s complete-game was the third of the season, 26th of her career, and the second complete-game shutout of the year.
The Florida offense jumped out to an early 5-0 lead over UC Riverside in the 1st inning of play with five runs on four hits. Sophomore Kendra Falby kick-started the rally with an infield single to shortstop, stole second, advanced to third on a throwing error, and scored on an RBI single by Sam Roe.
Charla Echols followed with a walk and Reagan Walsh was hit by an 0-1 offering in the next at-bat to load the bases. From there the Gators, picked up an RBI walk from freshman Olivia Gigante and a two-RBI single from Avery Goelz. The offense produced one more runs via a bases loaded RBI fielder’s choice from Sarah Longley.
The Gators extended their lead out to 7-0 in the bottom of the 2nd inning of action. Echols led off the frame with a single to left, which was followed up by a single to right hit by Walsh. Gigante loaded the bases with one out to set the table for Kaila Pollard. Pollard drove in both Echols and Walsh with her second hit of the game, which this time was a two-RBI double down the right field line.
Overall, Walsh led the way at the plate going 3-for-3 and two runs scored, while Pollard (2-for-3) and Falby (2-for-4) each collected a pair of hits.
Florida returns to action Saturday, Feb. 24, with a pair of games against No. 22 Oregon and Cal State Fullerton. The Gators will take on the Ducks at 10 a.m. (PT)/1 p.m. (ET) and the Titans at 12:30 p.m. (PT)/3:30 p.m. (ET).
* Florida’s shutout was the fifth of the season for the program and the second complete-game shutout thrown by Elizabeth Hightower.
* Over Hightower’s career she has thrown 27 complete games and 17 complete-game shutouts.
* Kendra Falby stole her eighth base of the season in the bottom of the 1st inning of play.
* Falby also went 2-for-4 and has recorded a hit in 11 of the 12 games played this season.
* Avery Goelz notched a base hit in the game against the Highlanders and has recorded a hit in 10 of the 12 games played so far this year.
* Kaila Pollard’s two hits is a career-high for the freshman from Riverside, Calif. She also tied her career-high with two-RBI, which she has done three times this season.
* Reagan Walsh tied her career-high with three hits in the win and it’s her third multi-hit game of the season.