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UF Softball: Gators Advance to SEC Tournament Semifinals

Lindaman’s home run in the 5th inning was the 69th of her career.
Photo by Hannah White

Courtesy of University Athletic Association

BY HERB BROOKS

No. 1-seed Florida rallied early Thursday afternoon to defeat No. 9-seed Mississippi State, 6-2, to advance to the semifinal round of the SEC Softball Tournament at Rhoads Stadium. It’s the program’s 11th comeback win of the season.

The Gators (41-8) overcame the early 2-0 deficit via a pair of three-run home runs from Kendyl Lindaman (3-for-4) and Charla Echols (3-for-4) to defeat the Bulldogs (33-23). The program is now 4-0 against MSU this season as UF also picked up a three-game series sweep in Starkville, Miss. earlier this season.

Mississippi State was able to jump out in front, 2-0, in the top of the 2nd inning thanks to a Jackie McKenna two-out double down the left field line. From that moment, Florida right-handed starting pitcher Elizabeth Hightower buckled down and went on to pitch 2.1 scoreless frames afterwards.

Hightower was eventually relieved by Natalie Lugo (15-2) in the 5th inning, and the West Covina, Calif. native held Mississippi State to just one hit in the final three frames of action.

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Florida’s offense struck in the bottom half of the 5th inning to take the lead, 3-2. Freshman Emily Wilkie drew a one-out hit-by-pitch to start the rally, which was followed by Echols’ second hit of the day.

With two on and one out, the stage was set for Lindaman’s 69th career home run. The Ankeny, Iowa native drove the 3-2 offering from Mississippi State’s Annie Willis (16-9) over the right field wall.

The Gators added insurance runs in the bottom of the 6th with Echols’ team-leading 14th home run of the season. Cheyenne Lindsey (1-for-3) and Hannah Adams (1-for-3) produced back-to-back one-out singles and Echols drove them in with her three-run shot off reliever Alyssa Loza.

The Gators will play No.4-seed Missouri, Friday at 4 p.m. (ET) on ESPN2.

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