Courtesy of University Athletic Association
BY CHRIS HARRY
The Gators fell to Georgia, 4-0, in the first game of the Super Regional
WHAT HAPPENED: A three-run homer in the top of the seventh by Payden Bordeau gave pitcher Mary Wilson Avant all the insurance she and the unseeded/rival Bulldogs needed Friday night to take their NCAA Super Regional best-of-three opener against the host and fourth-seeded Gators at Pressly Stadium. Avant handcuffed UF, allowing just three hits and no runners past second base, while Bordeau’s late-game smash paired with an earlier solo shot from Jaiden Fields in the second. Fields’ homer made it 1-0, and that’s where it stood over the next four-plus frames, as the Gators’ bats were quiet most of the night, except for a couple doubles from Kendyl Lindaman — UF left the tying run at second both times — and a two-out single in the fifth by Cheyenne Lindsey (Hannah Adams followed with a flyout to left). In taking just her third loss of the season, Florida starting pitcher Natalie Lugo (17-3, 1.88 ERA) gave up six hits and the four runs, all of them earned, before being lifted with one out in the seventh for Rylee Trlicek.
PLAY OF THE GAME: The Bulldogs, up 1-0, had the bases loaded with no outs in the top of the fifth when Ellie Armistead bounced a hard grounder to third. UF’s Charla Echols snared the ball on a hop, threw to catcher Julia Cottrill for the force out, with Cottrill firing back to third to try and double up Bordeau. The throw was a smidge late, but Bordeau slid past the bag and was tagged out by shortstop Sarah Longley covering. Lugo got the next batter to line to center, kept the margin at a manageable one-run deficit, and kept Florida in a game that could easily have been blown up early.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Make that two wins over the Gators for Avant (19-10, 2.69 ERA) this season. She one-hit UF and fanned six in a 4-2 win on April 3 to open a three-game regular-season series in Athens, Ga. Two days later, though, Florida banged out seven hits, including a three-run homer by Echols in the top of the first, and beat Avant by an 8-1 score. She made up for that one.
STAGGERING STATISTIC: The Gators went 0-for-6 with runners on base and 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position. Compare that to the Bulldogs, whose No. 6 through 9 hitters combined to go 6-for-9, plus another three walks. Fields, batting seventh, went 3-for-3, and Bordeau, batting eighth, went 2-for-3 and accounted for all four Bulldogs runs.
UP NEXT: Florida (45-10) and Georgia (33-21) will meet Saturday in Game 2 at noon, with the Gators’ season on the line. A win for the Bulldogs means a two-game sweep of the Super and thus a repeat of when the two teams met here in the 2016 Super round, a postseason UF entered as the two-time defending NCAA champion. Florida has won each of the last three Super regionals, while UGA will try to make its first trip to Oklahoma City since 2018.