Florida’s softball approach paying off in hits

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Florida's Cheyenne Lindsey. [File]. [Lauren Bacho/Gainesville Sun]
Tim Walton changed his philosophy a little bit during the offseason.
Sunday’s 11-0 run-rule win over Auburn was more evidence that the new plan of attack is working.
Walton adjusted the way the Gators take batting practice this season, hitting more often and using a machine rather than live batting practice.
On Sunday, the seventh-ranked Gators delivered 13 hits that allowed Florida to sweep the opening series of the SEC season.
“We’re taking more of a tennis model,” Walton said. “Tennis players hit multiple times in a day to get their swings right. I think it’s helped our swings be more dynamic.”
So far, the 21-4 Gators are hitting .323 for the season. A program built on pitching and defense has added some pop.
“We won a lot of games, but it wasn’t fun to watch,” Walton said. “I just think we can score more runs. We’re using machines like we’ve never done before. We can work on every kind of pitch possible.
“Our hitters don’t like it all the time because it’s not super fun. But I think they see the results in the game. They can hit more pitches. They’re in a better place to hit more pitches.”
A crowd of 2,416 — the largest of the season and eighth largest ever — packed the berms at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium to watch UF complete the sweep.
A night after Florida needed 11 innings to win 2-1 on Hannah Adams’ walk-off hit, the Gators needed no such drama Sunday.
They put the game away with an eight-run first inning that was a clinic in hittin’ ‘em where they ain’t.
Florida had seven singles, many of them grounders though the infield, and sent 13 batters to the plate in the inning. Cheyenne Lindsey had three hits in the game and is now hitting .397 for the season.
“I’m feeling more confident,” she said. “I’m just trying to enjoy the moment.”
Florida added a single run in the second and two more in the fourth.
And pitcher Rylee Trlicek never let Auburn get a sniff at a comeback. She pitched her second shutout of the weekend. On Friday, she was the first freshman to throw an opening weekend SEC shutout in school history.
“I talked to (former UF pitcher) Kelly (Barnhill) after that game and she told me that was pretty legit,” Trlicek said.
Trlicek (9-2) scattered six hits Sunday.
“She gives up hits, but doesn’t give in,” Walton said. “She uses her defense.”
The weekend was a sharp contrast to the previous one when Florida pitchers gave up 14 runs on Saturday and Sunday in losses to Louisiana.
“I had a 12-minute conversation with the pitchers on Sunday and told them we’re never going to blame them for a loss,” Walton said. “If it’s 7-5, keep it there. We’re all in this together.”
The Gators have a busy week ahead of them with five games in six days, all at home.
Florida faces Penn on Tuesday at 2 p.m., then 12th-ranked Florida State Wednesday at 6 p.m. UF plays host to No. 21 Baylor for a three-game series starting Thursday.

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