PALO ALTO, Calif. - The Florida softball team advanced past LMU, 3-2, in walk-off fashion in its first game of the Palo Alto Regional hosted by No. 9-seed Stanford. UF will face the winner of Stanford and Long Beach State Saturday at 5 p.m. ET.
The Gators (37-20) rallied in the seventh inning for their sixth walk-off victory of the season to advance into the winner's bracket.
Down 2-1 going into the final half-inning, Sarah Longley tied the game 2-2 with a leadoff smash over the left field wall. Longley's seventh home run of the season turned the lineup over back to the top of the order, which allowed Reagan Walsh to produce a one-out single through the left side.
Christina Wellen entered to pinch-run for Walsh and was moved to second base after Charla Echols struck a sharply hit ball off the leg of Lions starter Jenna Perez (13-12). Pal Egan provided the heroics in the ensuing at-bat as she chopped an RBI single up the middle that scored the game-winning run from second base.
To start the game, Florida and LMU (27-21) were locked in a pitcher's duel between starters Elizabeth Hightower and Perez for the first four innings of action. Hightower limited LMU to just a pair of hits in the first four innings, while Perez (13-12) only allowed one through the first three.
Florida struck first in the bottom of the fourth inning to take a 1-0 lead. Echols started the frame with a leadoff walk, which was followed by a pinch-hit bunt single from Sam Roe. After a SAC bunt by Emily Wilkie moved the pair to second and third, the Lions erased Echols from third via a fielder's choice run down but Roe and Kaila Pollard moved to second and third.
Kendra Falby drove in Roe via her second single of the game to score the first run of the game. The hit was Falby's second of the game, which served as her 21st multi-hit game of the year.
LMU immediately evened the score 1-1 in the top half of the 5th inning as Gabby Villa lifted the offering from Hightower over the left field wall to lead off the inning. The Lions went on the take the lead 2-1 after a fielder's choice and RBI single to left field by Izzy Jamgotchian. With one out, UF went to the bullpen and brought in Rylee Trlicek (14-5) to limit any further damage as she induced groundouts to first and short.
Trlicek did not allow a runner to reach base in the final 2 2/3 innings of work and struck out four of the eight batters she faced, which allowed the Gators to rally and walk-off the Lions.
- Florida improved to 51-19 in the NCAA Regional round and 101-50 overall in the NCAA Tournament.
- The Gators' walk-off win was the sixth of the season. The others: Feb. 18, 2023 - UCONN - W, 4-3 (7) March 19, 2023 - Missouri - W, 4-3 (7) April 6, 2023 - Auburn - W, 3-2 (8) April 19, 2023 - USF - W, 7-3 (7) April 28, 2023 - Ole Miss - W, 6-5 (7) May 18, 2023 - LMU - W, 3-2 (7)
- Kendra Falby notched her team-leading 21st multi-hit game of the year in the win over LMU.
- Falby also stole her 26th base of the season in the bottom of the 6th inning.
- Sarah Longley blasted her seventh home run of the season to tie the game 2-2 in the bottom of the 7th inning.
- Pal Egan notched the game-winning walk-off hit in the bottom of the 7th inning.
- Charla Echols picked up her 20th multi-hit game of the year after going 2-for-3 in the win. It's the first time during her career that she has produced 20 or more multi-hit games in a season.
UF will face the winner of Stanford and Long Beach State Saturday at 5 p.m. ET.