Adams helps Florida walk off with win over Jacksonville
The No. 6-ranked Florida softball team tallied 21 runs combined in Saturday’s doubleheader at USF, but in the home opener the Gators needed just one to secure the victory.
However, UF needed all seven innings to get on the scoreboard — although the team certainly had its chances — in securing the eventual 1-0 win over Jacksonville University on Hannah Adams’ walk-off hit that scored Cheyenne Lindsey on Wednesday night at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.
“It’s been a little while since we’ve had a pitcher’s duel, and it was good,” UF coach Tim Walton said. “It was definitely good for our team. I thought their pitcher did a really nice job. She threw the ball hard, she wasn’t predictable, she threw to quite a few different spots and did a good job, especially when she got in a lot of trouble.”
Following a quick top of the first, the Gators loaded the bases in the bottom of the first inning with no outs at the plate and subsequently looked poised to take an early and potentially sizable advantage, but Dolphins starter Alyssa Bilodeau had other ideas. She struck out three batters to keep the game scoreless after one, and the battle on the mound began.
Over the next five innings, UF would string together four hits, including loading the bases once more in the fourth inning, but the Gators again left runners stranded.
“I thought our team played well, and I thought their team played well,” Walton said. “We hit the ball hard, we didn’t hit the ball soft, but in some of those crucial moments, runners-in-scoring-position moments, we were 0-for on the day, and that’s something we’re going to have to get better at in the middle of the line-up.”
After 4.1 innings from junior right-hander Elizabeth Hightower, Walton turned to fifth-year relief pitcher Katie Chronister to secure the game, a move he said was dictated by how the contest unfolded rather than a predetermined decision. Chronister would eventually secure her second victory of the season, having also entered late in UF’s season-opening 6-3 win against the Bulls.
“I thought that we didn’t need anymore hard foul balls or fly balls, we needed ground balls,” Walton said. “It was just feel, same feel that I had last game where they were at in their line-up. I felt like it was a good opportunity to bring Katie in and get a ground ball, or for Katie to come in and get a strikeout. She’s done a good job now, that’s her second outing and she’s performed very well, just one hit in 6-plus innings, so we’re very proud of her and the location she has on her pitches.”
The Gators will return to their home stadium this weekend for the five-game Bubly Invitational, where UF will play a trio of games against Georgia Southern and will face Charlotte twice, all within a 48-hour span.
Following a competitive start to the season against in-state competition, Walton expects the weekend will give Florida a chance to dig deep into the roster and play some of the team’s younger players.
“I was really pleased last Saturday being able to get 20 of our 21 players into the game, so for me it’s about mixing some things up,” Walton said. “I want to play more players. Honestly, I want to get (freshman pitcher) Haley Pittman some innings. To me, I’m just glad, I’m happy we’ve got five more games and an opportunity to see all five of our pitchers and all 21 of our players.”