GAINESVILLE, Fla. - No. 5 Florida defeated South Florida, 9-1 (6) & 2-1, in a midweek doubleheader Wednesday evening at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.
Charla Echols led the Gators (28-4) with four RBI through the two games, which included a key three-run home run in the first game against the Bulls (17-9) and an RBI double in game two that sealed the second victory of the day.
In the circle, UF picked up a complete-game from Elizabeth Hightower (13-2), who allowed just one run on three hits, in game one and a solid start from Natalie Lugo (9-1) in game two. Lugo hurled 5.0 innings and allowed just three hits and an unearned run before she was relieved by Katie Chronister, who finished the game without allowing a hit for her first save of the season.
In the first game of the day, Florida jumped ahead early in the 1st inning via Echols' ninth home run of the season. Echols plated Hannah Adams and Cheyenne Lindsey, who reached via hit-by-pitch and a single up the middle respectively, when she lifted the 2-1 offering from Georgina Corrick (11-4) over the right center field wall.
It was the first earned runs Corrick had given up in over 62.1 innings.
Florida went on to score twice more to take a 5-0 lead. UF loaded the bases to set the table for an RBI walk by Jaimie Hoover. The walk chased Corrick from the circle and the Bulls brought in Camryn Dolby, but Adams pushed across one more run on a four-pitch walk.
Kendyl Lindaman extended the Gators lead out to 7-0 in the 4th inning. Echols drew a one-out four-pitch walk to put a runner on for Lindaman's fifth home run of the year.
The Bulls finally were able to scratch across a run in the top of the 6th inning, which closed down the Florida lead to 7-1. AnaMarie Bruni picked up her second hit of the evening to give USF a runner with one out and the speedster scored on a two-out RBI double to left field by Nicole Bechtel.
The Gators rallied to end the game, 9-1, in the 6th inning with two additional runs. Cheyenne Lindsey reached with a leadoff single to first base, which was then followed by back-to-back walks from Echols and Lindaman to load the bases with no outs.
Emily Wilkie and Jordan Matthews ended the contest with back-to-back RBI walks.
In the second game of the doubleheader, Wilkie gave the Gators a 1-0 lead in the 2nd inning of play with a solo home run. Wilkie worked a full-count and lifted the eighth pitch offered from Bulls starting pitcher Vivian Ponn (2-1) over the left center field wall.
The Bulls bounced back in the top of the 3rd inning to tie the game 1-1 on a passed ball. Betchel doubled to left field and was moved to third on a SAC bunt from Bailee Leistl. A walk to Bruni put runners on the corners with one out and Lugo was able to record the second out via strikeout, but a passed ball allowed the unearned runner to score from third.
The Gators retook the lead, 2-1, in the bottom of the 5th inning on a pair of hits from Adams and Echols. Adams started the rally with a one-out single through the right side of the Bulls infield and was brought home on Echols' RBI double that hit off the top of the wall in right center field.
Chronister entered in relief in the top of the 6th inning and retired the final six batters of the game and picked up a trio of strikeouts along the way.
Next up for the Gators is a pair of games against Western Kentucky this Saturday and Sunday at 11 a.m. on the SEC Network + and an exhibition against Softball Canada Saturday at 1:30 p.m.