By Zach Abolverdi/Correspondent
The Florida softball team’s dominance of FSU at home continued Wednesday in the first installment of the Sunshine State Showdown.
Kendyl Lindaman broke a 2-2 tie in the fifth inning with her two-run homer, scoring Hannah Adams and propelling the No. 7 Gators to a 5-2 win before 1,894 at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.
It marked the sixth win in a row for the Gators (23-4) and their second straight over the No. 12 Seminoles (17-7), who entered the rivalry with a seven-game winning streak.
UF coach Tim Walton improves to 10-2 at home against FSU, avenging last year’s 2-0 loss. Prior to that game the Seminoles hadn’t won in Gainesville since 2014, and that was their first win in more than a decade (2003).
“I thought we really came out and found a way after getting down early,” Walton said. I thought (FSU pitcher) Caylan Arnold had good stuff and we just got a couple hits when we needed it.”
Florida faced an early deficit following Florida State’s Elizabeth Mason homer in the opening inning, the first allowed by Gators pitcher Rylee Trlicek this season. But the left-handed freshman rebounded in the second with a pair of strikeouts and pitched three hitless innings before giving up a double to start the fifth.
The Gators took a 2-1 lead in the third inning with a two-run homer by Charla Echols, who has a team-high eight.
“I thought Rylee did a good job of being able to keep the ball in the dirt,” Walton said of Trlicek, who earned SEC Pitcher of the Week honors Tuesday after becoming the first Florida freshman to throw complete-game shutouts in their first two SEC starts. “A couple hard hits. I really wanted to get two more outs out of her. That was my goal. But when (FSU’s Morgan Noah) hit that line drive that Cheyenne Lindsey dropped in left, we had to have a change up.”
Trlicek finished with three strikeouts, three walks and two runs allowed in four innings, while Arnold struck out six batters in 4.2 innings and allowed three hits, three runs and two walks. After giving up her second hit, Trlicek was replaced in the circle by senior Katie Chronister and the Seminoles tied it up two batters later when Noah scored on a fielder’s choice.
But Florida regained the lead in the bottom of the fifth on Lindaman’s seventh homer of the season.
“It was a really nice piece of hitting obviously with two strikes,” Walton said of Lindaman, who led the team with two hits. “She did a really good job of going down, getting underneath that ball and hitting it to right center. It was special. She’s a special kind of hitter that you get to see every day. Believe me, I don’t take anything for granted with her.”
Natalie Lugo relieved Chronister to start the sixth frame and gave up no hits with three strikeouts, earning her sixth save of the season. Florida added its final run in the sixth on Lindsey’s single, plating E.C. Taylor.
Up next for the Gators is a three-game home series against No. 24 Baylor, which is 17-5 on the year. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. Friday.
The Bears faced FSU twice last month at the Wooo Pig Classic at Bogle Park, beating the Seminoles 2-1 on Feb. 28 and losing to them 5-3 the following day. Baylor also opened the season with an 8-0 win over Auburn, which was swept by UF last weekend.
“They’ve got a fifth-year senior back that we faced a couple years ago. She’s pretty tough. She beat Arkansas and Florida State last weekend,” Walton said of Bears pitcher Gia Rodoni. “I know we’ll have our hands full with Baylor so we need to get ourselves prepared, but I’m going to enjoy this win for a little bit longer.”