Special to Gatorsports.com
TAMPA – The No.7-ranked Florida softball team earned a 4-1 opening day win Friday over Illinois State at the USF Softball Stadium.
Junior Natalie Lugo (1-0) reeled off 11 strikeouts in the effort – which is the fourth time of her career with 10 or more in a single game.
Down 1-0 after the 1st inning, the Gators used a four-run bottom of the second rally to erase the early deficit that the Redbirds (1-2) had established.
Junior Jordan Matthews started the big inning with a leadoff single, while freshman Julia Cottrill drew a four-pitch walk and senior Jade Caraway ripped a line drive single to load the bases with no outs.
The table was set for an RBI hit by pitch drawn by Hannah Adams to tie the game, which was followed up by Kendyl Lindaman’s bases loaded walk.
Sophomore Charla Echols put the game out of reach with her two-RBI double to left field.
From there Lugo handled the Redbirds offense as she only allowed two more hits over the next five innings of play and no walks for the third complete game of her career.
UF now holds a 23-1 record in season openers and a 32-5 record in games during the opening weekend.
The Gators continue play at the USF-Rawlings Invitational with two games Saturday slated for 11:30 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. against Fresno State and No. 17 Michigan, respectively.