#6 Gator Softball opens conference play with victory against #9 Kentucky
Elizabeth Hightower strikes out seven in complete game win
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - No. 6 ranked Florida opened Southeastern Conference play with a showdown against No. 9 ranked Kentucky at Katie Seashole Pressley Stadium Friday night, and the top-10 matchup took some resiliency to earn the win.
The Gators (16-1) and Wildcats (19-1) entered Friday’s contest a combined 34-1 so far this season, so both teams knew it would take their best to out-duel the other.
Both starting pitchers kept opposing hitters from doing any damage through the first two innings. Florida’s Elizabeth Hightower allowed the only batter to reach a base, as she issued a walk to Wildcat shortstop Erin Coffel in the top of the first.
Outside of the free pass to first, Hightower was rock solid against the opposition. She racked up four strikeouts by the end of the second, but ran into trouble in the top of the fourth.
Hightower allowed a lead off double, followed by a single, then loaded the bases after a sacrifice bunt was bobbled and the play at first couldn’t be made in time. But the junior right-hander steadied herself, and struck out the next batter, but did surrender a single run to score off a sacrifice fly, before striking out the final hitter of the inning.
Trailing only 1-0, the Gators offense came alive in the bottom of the inning to give their pitcher some run support.
Hannah Adams lead off with a single to center, followed by Charla Echols, who hit a rocket back to the pitcher who couldn’t handle it to safely reach first, as Adams easily took second. With two on and no outs, Kendyl Lindaman took the batters box and worked a full count, as she battled off pitch after pitch to keep the at-bat alive. Finally, she got a pitch over the inner half of the plate and bashed a ball all the way to the left field wall, which drove in Adams and Echols to give the Gators the lead.
Both teams went scoreless in the fifth, but Florida added one more insurance run in the bottom of the sixth. After Adams hit another lead off single, Echols roped a line drive to center field that just got under the glove of Renee Abernathy and rolled all the way to the wall. The speedy Adams easily came home to make it 3-1.
Hightower closed out the game by retiring the side, which included registering her seventh strikeout of the night. She improved her undefeated record to 8-0.
Florida moved to 6-1 against Kentucky on SEC Opening Weekend.
These two square off for the final pair of games on Saturday and Sunday.
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