ATHENS, Ga. – No. 5 Florida bounced back to even the series with No. 20 Georgia with a 17-1 (5) run-rule victory Sunday afternoon at Jack Turner Stadium. The win was the largest margin of victory all-time over the Bulldogs and tied for fourth largest margin of victory against a Southeastern Conference opponent.
The Gators (26-4, 9-2 SEC) received a complete-game performance in the circle from Natalie Lugo (8-1) as the West Covina, Calif. native held the Bulldogs (23-6, 4-4 SEC) to just one run on three hits. The Florida offense pounded out 12 hits and drew a season-high 13 walks and faced six Georgia pitchers.
Charla Echols and Cheyenne Lindsey both tied their career-highs with five RBI each, while Avery Goelz turned in a season-high three RBI performance.
Florida took the initial lead of the contest thanks to back-to-back home runs in the top of the 1st inning. Kendyl Lindaman started the three-run rally with a one-out single to Sydney Kuma at second base, which set the table for Echols’ team-leading sixth home run of the year.
Echols blasted the two-run shot over the 220-foot center field wall off of Georgia right-handed pitcher Alley Cutting (4-2) to give UF the initial 2-0 lead. Julia Cottrill immediately followed up with a solo home run down the right field line to extend the lead out to 3-0.
Florida continued to press at the plate and pushed its lead out to 5-0 in the 2nd inning. Lindsey ripped her ninth double of the season with a shot to left center field that scored a streaking Sarah Longley from first base. Georgia promptly made a call to the bullpen and brought in reliever Madison Kerpics to replace Cutting in the circle.
Kerpics hit Hannah Adams to put runners on first and second with one out and Lindaman loaded the bases after she drew a four-pitch walk. Echols notched her third RBI of the game and extended the Gators lead to 5-0 when she scored Lindsey on a SAC fly to center field.
The Gators offense kept their foot on the gas in the 3rd inning. Jaimie Hoover led the frame off with a walk, which forced Georgia to bring in reliever Lauren Mathis. Mathis then issued back-to-back walks to Avery Goelz and Sarah Longley to load the bases for Lindsey. Lindsey ripped her second double of the game down the left field line to score Hoover and Goelz and push the lead out to 7-0.
The inning didn’t end there as the Orange & Blue struck for six more runs in the frame to take a 13-0 lead in the 3rd inning. Adams produced a SAC fly to left field to score Longley and Echols plated Lindsey on a groundout to second for two additional runs, while Hoover scored pinch-runner Katie Kistler via a bases-loaded RBI walk.
Goelz cleared the bases in the next at-bat with a three-RBI double to right center field to end the scoring in the frame.
Georgia was finally able to scratch across a run and close down the Florida lead to 13-1 in the bottom of the 3rd inning with back-to-back base hits from Payden Bordeau and Sydney Kuma.
Florida’s offense struck for four more runs in the top half of the 5th inning and extended the lead out to 17-1 to close out the scoring. Jordan Matthews ripped a single up the middle to score Hoover, Lindsey then singled up the middle to score both Avery Goelz and Longley, and Echols capped it with an RBI walk to score Lindsey.
The Gators and the Bulldogs will play for the series Monday night at 7 p.m. on the SEC Network.