Gators come back for a spot in the SEC Championship

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

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – No.1-seed Florida advanced the SEC Softball Tournament Championship with a 7-6 come-from-behind victory over No.4-seed Missouri Friday afternoon at Rhoads Stadium. It’s the 12thcomeback victory of the season for UF.

The Gators (42-8) initially fell behind 1-0 after the 1st inning of play, but rallied for five-straight runs to take a 5-1 lead into the final two frames of action. The Tigers (38-15) were able cut the lead down to 5-2 in the 6th and retook the lead, 6-5, in the 7th with four more runs.

Despite the deficit with only three outs left, Florida found a way for another thrilling walk-off win. The rally started with top of the order due up. Hannah Adams drew a leadoff walk and Emily Wilkie (1-for-2) reached after she was hit by the 2-2 offering from Missouri reliever Emma Nichols (6-3).

Charla Echols (2-for-4) advanced Adams and pinch-runner Katie Kistler into scoring position with a groundout to second base. That brought to the plate Kendyl Lindaman(1-for-3), who launched her 70th career home run in the 3rd inning that gave UF a 3-1 lead, and she delivered a SAC fly via a line drive to left field deep enough to score Adams from third and tie the game 6-6.

Kistler advanced to third on the play and Jaimie Hoover (1-for-3) stepped into the box with the game on the line. Hoover worked a 3-1 count before she drove a groundball to Jenna Laird at shortstop. Laird mishandled the ball for a split-second, which allowed Kistler to score the game-winning run and Hoover to reach safely at first base for the 7-6 walk-off victory.

Florida scored one run in the 2nd inning to tie the game, 1-1, via a Baylee Goddard (1-for-3) RBI single through the left side that scored Hoover. Lindaman plated two more to take the lead in the 3rd with her eighth home run of the season and second of the tournament and Echols was responsible for the two runs scored in the 5th.

The Newnan, Ga. native produced an RBI double that scored Wilkie, then later stole home to give UF the 5-1 lead.

Natalie Lugo (16-2) picked up the win in relief.

The Gators will play the winner of No.7-seed Tennessee and No. 3-seed Alabama Saturday at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN2.

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.