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UF Softball: No. 5 Gators Down No. 20 Bulldogs to Capture Series

Charla Echols notched the fourth multi-home run game of her career and second of the season in the Gators’ win against Georgia.
Photo by Tony Walsh

Courtesy of University Athletic Association

BY HERB BROOKS

No. 5 Florida captured the series with an 8-1 victory against No. 20 Georgia Monday night at Jack Turner Stadium. It’s the fourth straight Southeastern Conference series victory of the season.

The Gators (27-4, 10-2 SEC) picked up the win over the Bulldogs (23-7, 4-5 SEC) behind solid pitching from left-handed starter Katie Chronister (6-1), along with reliever Natalie Lugo and a multi-home run performance by junior Charla Echols (2-for-2).

Echols put the Gators on the board first for the second consecutive game with a two-run home run in the 1st inning of play. Echols drove home Hannah Adams, who reached via a bunt single, when she lifted a 3-2 pitch offered from Mary Wilson Avant (12-3) over the right field wall.

Florida plated one more run in the frame to take a 3-0 lead on a bases-loaded RBI groundout by Avery Goelz. Goelz drove home Julia Cottrill on a groundball that deflected off of Avant’s glove in the circle out to Sydney Kuma at second base.

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Echols extended the Gators’ lead to 4-0 in the 3rd inning with her second home run of the game. The Newnan, Ga. native blasted the 2-1 pitch over the center field wall for her second multi-home run game of the season and fourth of her career.

Georgia broke onto the scoreboard and closed down the Florida lead to 4-1 in the home half of the 3rd inning via a solo home run to center field by Savana Sikes.

The Gators responded in the top of the 4th inning with a pair of runs to extend the lead out to 6-1 over the Bulldogs. Sarah Longley led off the inning with a key full-count walk and was able to advance to third on a fielding error during Cheyenne Lindsey’s chopper up the middle to shortstop Ellie Armistead.

With runners on the corners, Lindsey proceeded to steal her team-leading 11th base of the season during Adams’ at-bat. Adams drove home Longley on a groundout back to Avant in the circle, and Lindsey moved over to third in the process.

Kendyl Lindaman scored Lindsey in the next at-bat on what was determined an RBI fielder’s choice check swing that pushed the ball slowly down the first base line. Georgia first baseman Lacey Fincher picked up the ball and threw home in an attempt to retire Lindsey but was late, and she opted not to tag Lindaman running to first.

Florida made the call to the bullpen in the bottom of the 5th inning and brought in Natalie Lugo. Lugo inherited a 2-0 count to Armistead, who eventually ended up at first base via a walk. Armistead was erased from the bases shortly after when Julia Cottrill fired a skipping rocket to Longley, who applied the tag at second. It was the sixth runner Cottrill threw out this season.

Lugo went on to finish the frame with a strikeout and a lineout to right field.

After a light delay, due to a power surge at Jack Turner Stadium, the Gators were able to tack on two more runs in the 7th inning of play. Jaimie Hoover singled through the right side to lead off the frame but was retired on a fielder’s choice by Goelz.

Pinch-hitter Emily Wilkie put down an unexpected bunt single that caught the Georgia infield by surprise. Wilkie beat out the throw, but an error allowed Goelz to race to third.

Lindsey scored Goelz with a SAC fly to deep center field, and Adams followed up to score Longley, who reentered the game, on an RBI single up the middle to close out the scoring.

Next up for the Gators is a doubleheader at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium against USF Wednesday, April 7, at 5 p.m. on the SEC Network +.

Notable Notes:

  • The Gators improved to 42-28 in the all-time series against Georgia and 20-10 when playing at Jack Turner Stadium.
    • With the win, Florida captured its fourth SEC series of the season and currently sits in second place in the conference standings.
  • Charla Echols blasted home runs in the 1st and 3rd innings for her second multi-home run game of the season and the fourth of her career.
    • Echols now has 11 multi-hit games on the year and eight multi-RBI games.
    • The Newnan, Ga. native hit .429 (3-for-7) in the series against Georgia, with all three hits being home runs, and recorded eight RBI and four walks.
  • Katie Chronister and Natalie Lugo limited Georgia’s offense to just five hits tonight.
    • The Gators pitching staff has held opponents to five hits or less in 26 of the 31 games played this season.
  • Kendyl Lindaman (19 games), Hannah Adams (16 games), Charla Echols (13 games), and Jaimie Hoover (10 games) all extended their reached base safely streaks tonight.