No. 8 Florida softball wins pitcher’s duel with USF for fifth straight victory

Wallace sets single season record for stolen bases
Florida wins despite 1 hit, reaches 35-9 overall
Published: Apr. 20, 2022 at 10:14 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - Fresh off their sweep of Southeastern Conference foe Ole Miss, the No. 8 Florida softball team needed some late game magic to edge in-state rival, South Florida 1-0 in the orange and blue’s midweek contest.

Elizabeth Hightower (12-3) outdueled Georgina Corrick (27-5) in a contest that only featured four hits between the two teams and Skylar Wallace set the single season stolen bases record as the Gators (35-9) defeated the Bulls (35-12) to push their winning streak to five games in-a-row.

Hightower surrendered just three hits in her complete game win against the visiting South Florida. The veteran right-hander fanned six, walked a pair, hit a batter, and threw 86 strikes of the 113 total pitches she tossed all game.

Neither team had much luck getting runners on base, but Florida finally got the break it was looking for in the bottom of the 6th. With the speedy Wallace standing on first after drawing one of Corrick’s three walks on the night, the Gators shortstop attempted to steal second to give herself a better chance of scoring. As she slid into second, the throw from Bulls catcher Josie Foreman short-hopped teammate Megan Pierro and rolled into center field.

Wallace saw the ball wasn’t slowing down, and the Hallie Bryant hadn’t come in to back up the throw, so she got up and ran for third. While she was in a full sprint, head coach Tim Walton - also the third base coach - was waving her home to try and score to break the scoreless tie. As the throw came in, Wallace slid head first and touched the plate before Foreman could apply the tag. Not only did Wallace manage to slide in safely for the first run of the game, but with her swiping second base that gave her 37 stolen bags on the season - breaking a tie with Kelsey Stewart - who stole 36 bases in the 2013 and 2014 seasons, to set the new mark in Gators softball history.

In the top of the 7th, USF did manage to create some drama. Alanah Rivera drew a one out walk off Hightower, followed by a Vivian Ponn single to right to put runners on first and second with one out. Once Corrick went down swinging on strikes to record the second out, Hightower threw a pitch in the dirt that got underneath catcher Emily Wilkie and rolled to the backstop to allow both Rivera and Ponn to advance one base.

So, that brought up Dezarae Modanaldo, with the tying run standing on third and the go-ahead run at second. Hightower fell behind in the count 2-0, but on the third pitch of the at-bat Modanaldo lifted a pitch down the left field line and Kendra Falby, in a full sprint, slid in foul territory to make the catch to end the game.

Florida survived a stiff test, but managed to beat USF for the second time this season.

The Gators will take a day off before hosting Arkansas Friday, April 22-24 in the team’s seventh conference series of the season.

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