Florida rallies again to beat Missouri in SEC tourney semifinal

Special to Gatorsports.com
Florida's Kendyl Lindaman hits a two-run home run in the third inning Friday against Missouri in the SEC tournament in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Ok, now it's getting ridiculous.

Top-seeded Florida scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning Friday to defeat four seed Missouri 7-6 in the semifinals of the SEC Softball Tournament at Rhoads Stadium.

Florida (42-8) has now had 12 comeback wins, seven of them in walk-off fashion, to advance to Saturday's championship game. Florida will play three seed Alabama (44-7) for the title starting at 6 p.m. on ESPN2. Bama eliminated seven seed Tennessee 6-5 in the other semifinal Friday. The teams have previously squared off four times for the tournament title, with Alabama winning in 2012 in Tuscaloosa and Florida winning in 2019, 2009 and 2008.

"Hopefully that's something you instill in the preseason, in the weight room," Florida coach Tim Walton said of the Gators' perseverance. "We hold everyone accountable and the players hold each accountable. We hope the culture creates that."

Trailing 6-5 after leading for much of the game, the Gators scored twice without a hit. Hannah Adams walked, Emily Wilkie was hit by pitch and Charla Echols hit a groundout to advance the runners. Kendyl Lindaman then hit a sacrifice fly to tie the game at 6-all. 

With a pinch-runner Katie Kistler at third, Jaimie Hoover hit a hot shot to short making for a late throw to first that Hoover beat as Kistler scored the game-winner.

The Gators now play for what would be an SEC-record third consecutive league tourney title.

The Tigers (38-15), down to their final strike several times in the top of the seventh inning, scored four runs, three on a home run by Emma Raabe off Natalie Lugo (16-2), after two outs to take a 6-5 lead.

Missouri took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning after two singles, a fly out and a run-scoring grounder.

Florida tied it in the second after one out when Hoover singled, Jordan Matthews doubled and Baylee Goddard's run-scoring single. The Gators had a chance to add to the lead, but Matthews was caught in a rundown and, with the bases loaded, Adams grounded out.

Lindaman put UF up 3-1 in the third inning when she launched her eighth home run of the season, and second in two games, to also drive in Echols, who had singled.

Echols hit a RBI double in the fifth inning to put UF up 4-1. Echols went on to score from third on a delayed steal of home to make it 5-1.

Missouri's Kendyll Bailey got the first hit off UF reliever Katie Chronister, who replaced starter Elizabeth Hightower in the fourth, with a solo home run after two outs in the sixth to make it 5-2.

Notes: Lindaman, a fifth-year senior, has 70 career home runs. ... Standout catcher Julia Cottrill stayed in Gainesville because of an illness. She was replaced in the lineup by Wilkie.

Saturday

What: SEC softball tournament, final

Who: Florida vs. Alabama

When: 6 p.m. ET

Where: Tuscaloosa, Ala.

TV: ESPN2