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UF Softball: Hightower Goes the Distance as No. 5 Florida Shuts Out No. 13 LSU

Elizabeth Hightower (left) picked up her third complete-game shutout of an SEC opponent and Julia Cottrill (right) hit her first home run of the season in tonight’s win.
Photo by Hannah White

Courtesy of University Athletic Association

BY HERB BROOKS

No. 5 Florida defeated No. 13 LSU, 5-0, to open the series Friday evening at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium. It’s the fourth straight shutout of an SEC opponent this season.

The Gators (22-3, 6-1 SEC) picked up a complete-game shutout performance from junior right-hander Elizabeth Hightower (11-1). Hightower scattered three LSU (18-9, 4-3 SEC) hits for her fifth complete-game shutout of the season and the third straight of an SEC opponent.

The Tigers had their best scoring opportunity in the top of the 1st inning of play. LSU managed to draw a pair of two-out walks from Amanda Doyle and starting pitcher Shelbi Sunseri (5-3) to set the stage for a potential scoring opportunity.

Georgia battled with Hightower for 11 pitches before she sent a single through the left side of the Gators’ infield to put the runners in motion. However, the ball found its way to Jaimie Hoover in left field. Hoover quickly gathered the ball and fired a shot back to Julia Cottrill at home plate in time for her to make the tag on the shin of Clark and spoil the scoring opportunity for the Tigers.

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From that moment onward, Hightower and the Gators defense only allowed the Tigers to reach scoring position twice, once in the in the 3rd inning and once in the 7th inning.

The Florida offense was able to give Hightower some breathing room in the 3rd inning of play. Hoover produced a leadoff double, her first of the season, to set the tone for the inning. Cheyenne Lindsey then forced the Tigers to try and make a play on the speedy Hoover with her ground ball to Raeleen Gutierrez at first, but the throw by Gutierrez to Doyle at third was not in time, and Lindsey reached safely as Gutierrez decided not to touch first base.

Lindsey promptly stole second base to put both runners in scoring position with one out for leadoff batter Hannah Adams. Adams tattooed the 1-0 offering from Sunseri back up the middle of the Tigers infield to score Hoover and Lindsey, and give the Gators a 2-0 lead.

The Gators extended their lead in the bottom of the 6th to 5-0, thanks to Cottrill’s first home run of the season. Charla Echols led off the inning with a single up the middle, and Kendyl Lindaman followed up with a single to left field.

The duo was replaced by pinch-runners Katie Kistler and Sarah Longley to add some speed to the base paths, but in the end their speed wasn’t needed, as Cottrill sent the first pitch thrown by Sunseri over the corner of the right-field wall for a three-run home run.

Florida and LSU return to action Saturday at 5 p.m. (ET) for the second game of the series. The action will air on ESPN with Mark Neely and Michele Smith on the call.

Notable Notes:

  • Florida improved to 33-35 all-time against LSU and 14-13 when playing at KSP Stadium.
    • Under head coach Tim Walton, the Gators are 26-14 against the Tigers.
  • The Gators’ shutout of the Tigers tonight is the fourth-consecutive shutout of an SEC opponent this season.
    • The last time the program turned in four consecutive shutouts over SEC opponents was back in 2017 when Florida shut out Ole Miss for an entire series and then shut out Tennessee the first two games of the series the following week.
  • Elizabeth Hightower notched her fifth complete-game shutout of the season and third consecutive complete-game shutout of an SEC opponent.
  • Hannah Adams two-RBI single in the 3rd inning extended her career-long hit-streak out to 10 games, which ties Cheyenne Lindsey’s 10-game hit-streak she produced earlier this season.
  • Julia Cottrill belted her first home run of the season and the first of her collegiate career in the bottom of the 6th inning. The hit also extended her streak out to four games.
    • The three RBI are a season-high and tie the career-high she set against SE Louisiana (Feb. 16, 2020).
  • Jaimie Hoover’s outfield assist was the first of the season. Hoover threw out Georgia Clark at home in the bottom of the 1st inning from left field.
    • It’s also the second outfield assist for the Gators this season.