No. 6 Florida clinches softball series over No. 9 Kentucky

From staff reports

The sixth-ranked Florida softball team defeated No. 9 Kentucky, 3-1, in game two to clinch the SEC series Saturday afternoon at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.

Natalie Lugo (4-0), Katie Chronister and Elizabeth Hightower combined to hold UK to just three hits.

The Gators (17-1, 2-0 SEC) outhit the Wildcats (19-2, 0-2) seven to three and were able to take advantage of three errors by UK to take the series. Julia Cottrill (2-for-3) tallied a multi-hit performance, while five additional Gators picked up one hit each.

The scoring started in the top of the second inning when Wildcats starting pitcher Grace Baalman (4-1) helped herself by belting a home run.

Florida responded in the home half of the inning to take the 3-1 lead with a trio of unearned runs. Avery Goelz (1-for-3) led the rally with a single and Cottrill followed up with a one-out double off the center field wall to put runners on second and third.

Sarah Longley extended the inning and loaded the bases with a walk. With the bases loaded, Jaimie Hoover reached on a fielder’s choice where Kentucky was able to make the throw from shortstop to home to retire Goelz.

The Gators took the lead when Cheyenne Lindsey sent a dribbler to Lauren Johnson at second base, which went through her legs and allowed Cottrill and Longley to score.

Hannah Adams (1-for-3) plated the third and final run of the frame with her RBI single through the left side that scored Hoover from third.

After the solo home run, Lugo settled in to retire the next 10 Kentucky batters before being relieved by Chronister in the sixth inning. Kentucky managed to reach on an error, a single and a walk to load the bases with two outs before Hightower entered the game.

Hightower pitched out of the jam as she forced Autumn Humes to fly out to Hoover in left field on the 3-2 offering. Hightower went on to retire the next three Kentucky batters in the seventh inning to secure her second save of the season.

The Gators and Wildcats will close out the series Sunday at 1 p.m. (SEC Network +).