By Zach Abolverdi, Correspondent
Florida softball’s eight-game winning streak came to an end Friday.
The No. 6 Gators fell twice in their doubleheader with fifth-ranked Alabama, losing their first SEC series since late March. UF was coming off a 4-0 win Wednesday over No. 4 Florida State and sweeps this month against Arkansas and Texas A&M.
The Crimson Tide defeated Florida 3-1 in Friday’s opener and 6-1 in the second game, allowing just two hits in both contests.
“I thought they just had way better at-bats,” UF coach Tim Walton said. “They created a little bit more opportunity and luck than we did. The key in the game is we got no hits with runners in scoring position, not one single time.”
The Gators (37-11, 9-8 SEC) got on the scoreboard in the first inning of the first game. Kendyl Lindaman’s RBI double plated Amanda Lorenz after she drew a full-count walk.
Florida ace Kelly Barnhill (25-7) was outdueled by Alabama freshman Montana Fouts (12-1), who pitched all seven innings and struck out five batters.
The Crimson Tide (44-4, 13-4) made their move in the third, tying the game with Kaylee Tow’s two-out RBI and going ahead 2-1 on Bailey Hemphill’s single up the middle.
Alabama added a third run in the fifth when UF second baseman Hannah Adams misplayed a grounder with two outs. Skylar Wallace, who tripled to open the inning, scored on the error by Adams.
Barnhill gave up three hits and had six strikeouts in 5.1 innings, finishing with 113 pitches.
The Crimson Tide took a first-inning lead in the second game on Reagan Dykes’ infield single, which plated Tow on the play. Florida tied it up in the bottom of the third with a solo home run to right field by Lorenz, who was walked three times in the opener.
“It felt good to see a strike,” Lorenz said. “I think we need to play better, just compete. We gotta look ourselves in the mirror and figure it out.”
Alabama regained its advantage in the fifth with Wallace’s left-center homer off UF freshman pitcher Elizabeth Hightower. She finished with no strikeouts and five hits allowed in 4.1 innings, while Alabama’s Sarah Cornell pitched a full game and struck out nine batters.
Hightower was replaced by Natalie Lugo, who gave up a right-field triple to KB Sides in the sixth. Kloyee Anderson advanced to third on the play and went for home plate, but was thrown out by Adams. However, Sides scored on the next at-bat with Maddie Morgan’s single.
The Crimson Tide extended their lead to 6-1 with three seven-inning runs. Hemphill blasted a two-run homer to left field, scoring Tow. Morgan sealed the win with another left-field single to plate Dykes.
The top-10 teams close out the series with a game at 2 p.m. Saturday. After losing their first three SEC series and bouncing back with an eight-game winning streak, Walton wants to see more consistency from his team.
“It’s the same old song and dance,” he said. “You have the good and you have the bad, and you need them both to really gain perspective on things. It’s a game. I don’t like the way we compete sometimes.
“We got beat, but didn’t roll over. I thought they were still competing and trying to give us a chance. … They just found a way to get runners in scoring position and got it done.”