Top-seeded Florida rallies past Mississippi State for 6-2 win at SEC softball tourney

Special to Gatorsports.com
Florida's Charla Echols hits a three-run home run in the sixth inning Thursday against Mississippi State in the SEC Softball Tournament in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Florida's comeback kids did it again Thursday in the quarterfinals of the SEC Softball Tournament at Rhoads Stadium.

Down 2-0 through four innings against nine seed Mississippi State, the Gators (41-8) completed their 11th comeback of the season, and fifth in the last seven games, when Kendyl Lindaman and Charla Echols each hit three-run home runs to power top-seeded Florida to a 6-2 win and a spot in the semifinals.

"Coach (Tim) Walton always says we have 21 outs and as long as we have one left, we have a chance," Lindaman said of the comeback win to the SEC Network. "We keep fighting hard and if we have outs left, we're still in it."

Florida will face No. 4 seed Missouri (38-14) in Friday's semifinal at 4 p.m. on ESPN2. The Tigers ousted five seed LSU 4-1 in the afternoon's other quarterfinal. The tournament championship will take place Saturday at 6 p.m. on ESPN2.

More:Oops, Florida Gators do it again, rally past Texas A&M with another walk-off win

Tourney time:2021 Southeastern Conference Softball Tournament bracket, schedule, game times, TV info

"Don't throw your at-bats away, no matter what the score is, if we have outs, we still have a chance to win a ballgame," Walton said.

Mississippi State (33-23) took a 2-0 lead in the top of the second inning when Jackie McKenna hit a two-out, two-run double following a walk and a single off pitcher Elizabeth Hightower.

This time, the Gators didn't wait to the final inning to begin a rally. After an out in the fifth inning, Emily Wilkie was hit by a pitch and Echols singled to set the stage for Lindaman, who hit a three-run home run to put UF up 3-2. It's her seventh home run of the season.

Echols added insurance runs in the sixth with another three-run home run, her 14th, to put the Gators up 6-2. Cheyenne Lindsey and Hannah Adams had singled before Echols' blast that ended the Bulldogs' winning streak at eight.

Natalie Lugo (15-2) replaced Hightower in the fifth and limited MSU to one hit over three innings.

Notes: Standout catcher Julia Cottrill, who had the clutch walk-off home run to beat Texas A&M last Sunday and help the Gators clinch the SEC regular-season title, stayed in Gainesville because of an illness, according to the SEC Network. She was replaced in the lineup by Emily Wilkie. ... The Gators have now defeated the Bulldogs four times this season. In Starkville, Miss., earlier this season, the Gators swept the Bulldogs 1-0, 10-0 and 8-0 (5) in the three-game series. ... Echols has reached base safely in 31 consecutive games.

Friday

What: SEC softball tournament, semifinal round

Who: Top seed Florida (41-8) vs. four seed Missouri (38-14)

When: 4 p.m. ET

Where: Tuscaloosa, Ala.

TV: ESPN2

Radio: AM-850, 98.1-FM