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UF Softball: No. 5 Florida Opens Series with Win at No. 3 Alabama

Elizabeth Hightower has thrown six complete-game shutouts this season.
Photo by Skylar Lien

Courtesy of University Athletic Association

BY HERB BROOKS

No. 5 Florida downed No. 3 Alabama, 2-0, to open the series Friday evening at Rhoads Stadium. Elizabeth Hightower (14-2) pitched a complete-game shutout, while Sarah Longley (1-for-3) provided a clutch two-RBI single to seal the victory.

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Hightower’s gem of a performance in the circle for the Gators (31-5, 11-2 SEC) was her fourth complete-game shutout in Southeastern Conference action this season. Tonight was also only the third time that the Crimson Tide (32-6, 11-5 SEC) has been shut out all season.

Florida was able to produce the winning runs in the top of the 2nd inning. Kendyl Lindaman started the rally with a full-count walk, which was followed up by a laser base hit down the left field line by Julia Cottrill.

The duo moved into scoring position on a groundout by Avery Goelz, which set the stage for Longley’s two-RBI chopper that split the Alabama midfielders on its way to center field. Lindaman and Cottrill raced home, and Longley attempted to stretch the base hit but was thrown out at second base to end the frame.

Alabama attempted to rally and tie the game in the 3rd inning of play. KB Sides and Bailey Hemphill strung together back-to-back one-out singles to put runners on for Kaylee Tow. Tow, after watching the first pitch land for a ball, ripped into Hightower’s second offering, but it was right to Charla Echols.

Echols handled the hot shot, stepped on the bag at third, and whipped the throw to a waiting Hannah Adams at second for the double play to end the Crimson Tide’s scoring threat and preserve a 2-0 lead.

The Gators turned their second double play of the evening in the 6th inning to stifle any comeback attempt from Alabama. Hemphill drew a one-out walk and was pinch-run for by Sarah Cornell, but Hightower erased the runner after fielding a line drive off the bat of Tow and fired the ball to Goelz at first to get out of the inning.

Hightower closed out the game in the 7th inning with back-to-back groundouts to Hannah Adams at second, and Longley put the finishing touch on the night when she reeled in a foul out down the left field line.

Overall, the Gators produced six hits, with multi-hit games from Cheyenne Lindsey (2-for-4) and Cottrill (2-for-3).

Florida and Alabama face off for the second game of the series Saturday at 2 p.m. (ET) on ESPN2.

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