Hightower’s no-hitter blanks South Florida; Gators on to Super Regionals
Hightower throws first no-hitter for Florida in NCAA Tournament since 2018
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - For the sixth consecutive time this season, the Florida Gators defeated the USF Bulls in the circle. But it wasn’t just any old win. It was the first no-hitter thrown by a Florida pitcher in the NCAA Tournament since 2018.
The Gators entered Sunday’s Regional Final needing just one win to move on and host the Super Regionals. Facing South Florida for the second time in three days, Florida knew this contest could go a number of ways, after winning a 1-0 pitchers duel on Friday in walk-off fashion.
Elizabeth Hightower, who tossed 6 & 1/3 hitless innings against the Bulls on Friday, towed the circle for the orange and blue. She got out to a hot start, racking up four strikeouts through the first two innings. As the contest wore on, Hightower continued to dominate South Florida hitters. In total, she racked up 10 strikeouts, while only issuing three walks over seven shutout innings.
In the top of the seventh, Hannah Adams made the play of the day. A hot chopper looked like it was going to make its way through the middle, but Adams snagged it on her knees and fired to first to get the Bulls runner by inches. The incredible play kept the no-hitter in tact.
When Hightower threw her final pitch of the day, it was skied toward left-center field and easily caught by Cheyenne Lindsey for the final out. The Gators mobbed Hightower in the circle as her no-hitter was the first one thrown in the NCAA Tournament for Florida since 2018.
Hightower was boosted by her team’s timely hitting at the plate. Julia Cottrill broke a scoreless tie in the top of the 4th with an rbi double to left field to give the Gators a 1-0 lead.
In the top of the 6th, Cottrill came up big again. She hammered an inside pitch over the wall in left that clanked off the roof of the bullpen for a solo home run to extend Florida’s advantage to 2-0.
The top of the 7th saw the orange and blue explode for six runs, highlighted by Sarah Longley’s grand slam. It was her first home run of the season, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
Florida will now host Georgia in the Super Regionals.
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