The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference
The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference
Gainesville, Florida

No. 6 UF opens series with victory over No. 9 UK

517 days ago
Florida Athletics
Photo: Florida Athletics

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - No. 6 Florida defeated No. 9 Kentucky, 3-1, to open Southeastern Conference play Friday night at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium. Elizabeth Hightower (8-0) pitched a complete-game with seven strikeouts, compared to giving up just three hits and one walk.

The Gators (16-1, 1-0 SEC) produced timely hitting to plate three runs and hand the Wildcats (19-1, 0-1 SEC) their first loss of the season. Hannah Adams (2-for-3), Charla Echols (2-for-3) and Kendyl Lindaman (1-for-2) had a hand in all three of the runs scored.

Hightower started the game off strong in the circle as the Monticello, Fla. native and reigning SEC Pitcher of the Week retired five of the first six batters she faced in the first two frames of the game. Her only blemish at the time was the one and only walk to Erin Coffel in the 1st inning.

The Wildcats eventually managed to pick up their first hit off of Hightower in the top of the 3rd inning via a Tatum Spangler leadoff double. With one out, Spangler moved to third on flyout to left field by Kayla Kowalik, but Echols ended the threat with a great catch in front of the Gators dugout to strand Spangler at third.

In the home half of the 3rd, Hoover (1-for-2) produced the Gators first hit of the evening with a two-out infield single to Coffel at shortstop, but the inning came to an end as Wildcats starting pitcher Autumn Humes (8-1) forced a groundout to first to end the frame.

Kentucky broke onto the scoreboard in the 4th inning after Lauren Johnson started the inning with a leadoff double to right center field. Mallory Peyton singled through the left side on a full-count and Renee Abernathy loaded the bases on a fielder's choice SAC bunt back to the circle.

Hightower and the Gators buckled down as she picked up her fifth strikeout of the game for the first out, but Humes helped herself out with a SAC fly to Cheyenne Lindsey in center field to score Johnson. Hightower limited the damage to, 1-0, with that one run as she struck out Spangler in the following at-bat for her sixth strikeout of the game.

The Gators responded immediately in the bottom of the 4th with a flurry of hits from Adams, Echols and Lindaman. Adams led off the inning with a single up the middle on the first pitch offered by Humes, which was then followed by Echols' infield single off the top of Humes' glove.

Lindaman worked Humes to a full-count and powered through nine pitches, with five foul balls, before she sent the offering off the top of the wall in left field to score Adams and Echols and give the Gators a 2-1 lead over the Wildcats.

The duo of Adams and Echols struck again in the bottom of the 6th to increase the Gators lead to 3-1 over the Wildcats. Adams led the inning off with a single to right field and Echols drove her home as she laced the 1-0 pitch from Humes on a low line-drive that dipped sharply under Abernathy's glove in center field.

Hightower went on to finish off the Wildcats in the 7th inning by forcing back-to-back flyouts to Hoover and Lindsey, and a groundout to Echols to end the game.

The Gators and the Wildcats are set to continue SEC Opening Weekend with game two of the series scheduled for Saturday, March 13, at 1 p.m. on the SEC Network+.

Notable Notes:

  • The Gators improved their all-time series record standing against the Wildcats to 53-14 and 27-6 when playing at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.
  • The program also improved to 6-1 against UK when playing during SEC Opening Weekend.
  • The win is the fifth consecutive over Kentucky with the last loss occurring April 15, 2017 in Lexington, Ky. UF improved to 2-1 against teams ranked inside the Top 25.
  • Adams and Echols multi-hit performances give them nine and eight respectively on the season to lead the Gators.
  • Lindaman's two-RBI double gives her six multi-RBI games on the year, which is tied for the team lead with Echols.
  • Lindaman is also now on a four-game hitting streak.
  • Hightower and the Gators held one of the most potent lineups in the country to just three hits in tonight' game.
  • The Gators haven't allowed more than five hits in 16 of the 17 games played so far this season.
  • The team is giving up an average of only 3.23 hits per game, which ranks third in the nation.