AUBURN, Ala. - The seventh-ranked Florida softball team clinched its third Southeastern Conference series of the season with a 3-0 victory over No. 17 Auburn in the series finale Sunday afternoon at Jane B. Moore Field.
The Gators (30-6, 7-5 SEC) picked up a complete-game shutout performance in the circle from senior right-handed pitcher Elizabeth Hightower (10-2). Hightower scattered three hits and struck out five Tigers (29-6, 7-5 SEC) over 7.0 innings pitched for her second complete-game shutout of the season.
Hightower battled Auburn starter Maddie Penta (18-3) as the pair worked scoreless frames through four-complete innings of play and combined to allow three total hits.
Florida broke the scoreless tie and took a 1-0 lead in the top of the 5th inning of play. Senior Cheyenne Lindsey led off the frame with a double to left center field and sophomore Katie Kistler followed up to drive her home on an RBI single to right field.
Auburn tried to rally and tie the game in the home half of the inning as a single and a sacrifice bunt put a runner on second base with one out, but UF's Skylar Wallace and Charla Echols thwarted the effort with a heads up play on a groundball to shortstop that Wallace scooped up and threw to Echols at third for the tag. Hightower capped the inning and shut down the Tigers with fifth strikeout of afternoon.
The Gators capitalized on the momentum against with two more runs in the 6th inning to extend their lead out to 3-0. Wallace and Hannah Adams produced back-to-back singles to lead off the inning and Reagan Walsh drove in Wallace with her RBI single to left center.
UF went on to load the bases with a walk from Lindsey and Adams scored in the next at-bat on a wild pitch thrown by Penta.
Hightower and the Gators would allow only one more Auburn batter to reach base in the final two innings to secure the series victory.
The Gators return home for a four-game stretch of games at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium. The team will host No. 2 Florida State at 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 6, and No. 4 Alabama for a three-game series that is set to start Saturday, April 9, at 3 p.m.