Gators advance to Super Regionals behind Hightower’s no-hitter

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

WHAT HAPPENED: Junior Elizabeth Hightower threw her first career no-hitter Saturday and got a couple big RBI from catcher Julia Cottrill, including a solo homer in the sixth, as the fourth-seeded Gators completed a three-game sweep of their NCAA Tournament home regional with a win Sunday over the Bulls at Pressly Stadium.

Hightower outdueled USF’s All-America ace Georgina Corrick, who threw all four regional games for the Bulls, including a no-hitter against Baylor on Saturday. Corrick came into the game having yielded just one run over three games, that being the walk-off RBI double by UF’s Hannah Adams in Friday night’s first-round meeting. The Gators matched that in the top of the fourth when Charla Echols and Kendyl Lindaman reached on back-to-back singles, then Cottrill lashed an RBI double off the wall in left field. That was the first run Corrick had given up in 23 innings, and turned out to be the only one of that stanza. Though UF loaded the bases, Corrick struck out both Baylee Goddard and pinch-hitter Jordan Matthews, then got Cheyenne Lindsey to pop out to first.

Cottrill’s one-out solo homer made it 2-0 in the sixth, and while the Gators went on to load the bases that inning, Corrick kept things close by getting Adams on a grounder to short to end the inning. The Gators got a leadoff single from Emily Wilkie in the top of the seventh, with USF coach Ken Eriksen opting then to pull Corrick after a spectacular weekend in which she threw a combined 29 innings, gave up three runs, 18 hits, struck out 32 and walked only four.

With Corrick gone, Florida blew the game open against South Florida’s bullpen. First came an RBI groundout from Jaimie Hoover with the bases loaded, followed by a grand slam from Sarah Longley, her first homer of the season, which was chased by solo shot from Cheyenne Lindsey to dead center. UF’s late barrage took the pressure off Hightower and she finished things off.

PLAY OF THE GAME: After Hightower walked the leadoff batter, Kyndall Williams, to start the seventh, Bethany Keen bounced a grounder up the middle, just to the left of second base. The ball was past Longley, the UF shortstop, but Adams, the Gators’ second base defensive whiz, gloved the ball deep in the hole and wheeled from her knees to gun down Keen at first. The play kept Hightower’s no-no intact. Hightower put down the next two hitters to etch her name in the Florida record book.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Take a bow, Miss Hightower. UF’s first regional no-hitter since Aleshia Ocasio against Ohio State in 2018 left her with a 16-5 record and 1.43 ERA on the season. Remember, folks, Hightower, who equaled her career best with 10 strikeouts Sunday, was taken from Friday’s game with one out in the seventh in a scoreless tie. So she went 13.1 regional innings without giving up a hit.

STAGGERING STATISTIC: Make that four straight regionals that Florida has gone unbeaten, but make it three straight that the Gators have held their opponents scoreless. UF has won nine straight regional games by a combined (54-2), including seven consecutive shutouts (and now with two by complete-game no hitters).

UP NEXT: The Gators (45-9) will play host to Georgia (32-21) in next weekend’s Gainesville Super Regional. The Bulldogs defeated Duke 10-9 in the finals of their Athens region Sunday.   ­­


  • Florida holds a 94-45 overall record in the NCAA Tournament and 47-19 in regional play after today’s win.
  • Today’s shutout is the 32nd in 47 regional games since 2006. UF has outscored opponents during that span 161-24.
    • It was also the team’s 19th shutout of the season.
  • The Gators advance to their 13th NCAA Super Regional in program history and will face SEC rival Georgia in the three-game series.
  • Elizabeth Hightower turned in the first no-hitter of her career to clinch a spot in the NCAA Super Regionals for the Gators.
    • The Monticello, Fla. native also tied her career-high in strikeouts with 10.
    • It’s the first no-hitter for the Gators this season and the overall 28th complete-game no-hitter in program history.
      • It’s also the fourth complete-game no-hitter for the Gators in NCAA postseason play.
        • May 23, 2021 – vs. USF – Elizabeth Hightower – 7 innings
        • May 19, 2018 – vs. Ohio State – Aleshia Ocasio – 7 innings
        • May 19, 2017 – vs. Florida A&M – Delanie Gourley – 5 innings
        • May 16, 2014 – vs. Florida A&M – Delanie Gourley – 5 innings
  • The Gators tallied 10 or more hits for the 12th time this season.
  • Charla Echols extended her hit streak out to nine games and has now reached base safely in 36 consecutive games.
  • Sarah Longley belted the first home run of her collegiate career against USF and it just so happened to be her first grand slam, which gave UF a 7-0 lead in the 7th inning.
    • She finished 2-for-2 at the plate with a SAC bunt, which is her second multi-hit and multi-RBI games this year.
  • Kendyl Lindaman went 1-for-4 and extended her hit-streak out to six games.
  • Cheyenne Lindsey went 2-for-4 with a home run. It’s the 15th multi-hit game of the season for Lindsey and the home run was fifth of the year.
  • Julia Cottrill went 2-for-3 with two RBI, which is her 10th multi-hit game and eighth multi-RBI game of the year.
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.