Florida softball drops series opener to South Carolina

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

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – No. 3 Florida was edged out 2-1 by South Carolina to open the series Friday evening at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.

The Gators (33-7, 12-4 SEC) were locked into a pitchers’ duel the Gamecocks (24-18, 3-13 SEC) from start to finish, with Elizabeth Hightower (15-4) and Leah Powell (8-2) battling in out in the circle, but South Carolina was able to scratch across a run late in the game to pick up the win.

The Gamecocks struck first in the top of the 1st inning of play with a trio of bloopers to the outfield. Kenzie Maguire and Mackenzie Boesel notched back-to-back hits between the Gators defenders in shallow left field and a one-out single to shallow center field by Cayla Drotar scored Maguire for the first run of the game.

Florida responded in the home half of the inning to tie the game 1-1 via a two-out RBI double to right center field by Kendyl Lindaman. Lindaman’s sixth double of the season plated Charla Echols, who reached via hit-by-pitch, from first base to even the score.

The Gators offense was poised to break open the game in the 2nd and 3rd innings of play as Florida led off each frame with a hit, but a pair of double plays turned by the Gamecocks foiled the plan.

In the 2nd inning a diving grab by catcher Jordan Fabian on a bunt in front of home plate erased the bases of Gators, while a bang-bang 4-3 double play turned by Mackenzie Boesel at second base turned the momentum back towards South Carolina.

The Gamecocks were able to capitalize in the 6th inning with a leadoff double from Maguire, which prompted the entrance of reliever Katie Chronister to replace Hightower in the circle. Boesel then followed up to return the 0-1 pitch back up the middle the infield, which resulted in another bang-bang play at home plate as Maguire slid in over the tag for the winning run.

Florida made 7th inning push to win the game as Julia Cottrill led off the frame with a single up the middle. Katie Kistler entered to pinch-run and as the tying run was able to make her way to third after a successful SAC bunt by Emily Wilkie and groundout by Avery Goelz.

However, after a four-pitch watch to Jordan Matthews that put runners on the corners, Powell was able to get out of the jam with a foul out to the right side of the infield.

Florida picked up four hits from Adams (1-for-3), Lindaman (1-for-3), Cottrill (1-for-3) and Avery Goelz (1-for-3) in the effort.

The two programs will face-off for the second game of the series Saturday at 6 p.m. on ESPNU. Florida will also recognize the senior class prior to the game.

Notable Notes:

  • Despite today’s result the Gators still hold a 50-21 advantage over the Gamecocks and 19-6 when playing at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.
    • Record When:
      • Allowing 0-2 runs: 29-1
      • Scoring 0-2 runs: 7-6
      • Opponent scores first: 5-6
      • One run game: 3-1
  •  Hannah Adams and Charla Echolsextended their reached base safely streaks to 25 and 22 games respectively.
    • It’s a career-long streak for Echols and the second longest streak for Adams.
  • Julia Cottrill and Adams are now on three-game hit streaks.
  • Emily Wilkie’s SAC bunt is her fourth of the season and the Gators 14th overall this year.
  • Katie Chronister extended her scoreless inning streak to 9.0 innings after she allowed one hit and picked up two strikeouts.
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.