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UF Softball: Wilkie, Hoover Lift No. 3 Gators to Series Opening Victory Over No. 15 Tigers

Jaimie Hoover’s three-run home run, her of the season, gave the Gators a 5-2 lead in the 6th inning against Missouri.
Photo courtesy of Missouri Athletics

Courtesy of University Athletic Association

BY HERB BROOKS

No. 3 Florida took the opening game of the series, 5-2, against No. 15 Missouri via a two-out rally Friday evening at the Mizzou Softball Stadium. It’s the seventh comeback win of the season for the program.

The Gators (36-7, 15-4 SEC) downed the Tigers (34-12, 12-7 SEC) thanks to a 6th inning rally that culminated in a pair of key hits by Jaimie Hoover and Emily Wilkie with two outs. Wilkie tied the game, 2-2, with a two-RBI single up the middle, and Hoover gave the Gators a lead it wouldn’t relinquish with her three-run home run to right center field in the following at-bat.

The Tigers took the initial lead in the contest in the bottom of the 2nd inning of play. Casidy Chaumont led off the frame with a single through the left side of the Gators infield. Right-handed starting pitcher Elizabeth Hightower (16-4) responded to strike out Kim Wert in the following at-bat, but Cayla Kessinger put Missouri out in front 2-0 with a home run to center field.

Hightower was locked into a pitcher’s duel with Missouri’s Jordan Weber (9-4) for a majority of the contest, but the Gators were able to get to Weber during the 6th inning rally.

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Hannah Adams led off the 6th inning with a walk and was moved into scoring position on Charla Echols’ one-out single through the left side of the Tigers infield. Weber issued her fourth walk of the game to Julia Cottrill, which loaded the bases and prompted Missouri to make a call to the bullpen to bring in Emma Nichols, who leads the nation in saves with seven on the year.

Wilkie and Hoover made the most of their moments against Nichols as the rally continued and the pair accounted for all five of the RBI in the frame with their two clutch hits.

Hightower went to hurl a scoreless bottom of the frame to limit the SEC’s leading offense to a just a walk. However, Florida turned to Katie Chronister in the 7th inning to close out the game.

The Gainesville, Fla. native earned her sixth save of the season as she retired the Tigers side in order to preserve the win.

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