Gainesville Super Regional: Georgia takes Game 1 over Florida

Zach Abolverdi
Gator Sports

Georgia hit two home runs off Florida pitcher Natalie Lugo, including a three-run shot in the seventh, and blanked the No. 4 Gators, 4-0, to take the Super Regionals opener Friday. 

UF (45-10) was held scoreless for the third time this year, while Lugo (17-3)  gave up her ninth and 10th homers of the season to the Bulldogs (33-21). UGA’s Mary Wilson Avant (19-10) pitched a complete game, allowing just three hits and striking out nine.

"She did a good job. ... I thought she was just better than what we prepared for," Florida coach Tim Walton said of Avant. "With the exception of maybe a couple hitters, we really swung the bat terribly." 

Georgia’s Jaiden Fields homered off Lugo to start the third after she retired her first six batters. Lugo bounced back the next inning with her third 1-2-3 frame, but then gave up a leadoff walk and two consecutive singles in the fifth to face loaded bases with no outs. 

UF escaped the jam with a 5-2-6 double play from Charla Echols, Julia Cottrill and Sarah Longley. Lugo tossed another 1-2-3 frame in the sixth, and then Kendyl Lindaman put the Gators in scoring position with a double down the left field line. 

Cottrill, however, grounded out to end the inning after striking out swinging in the fourth following Lindaman’s first double. Her second would be Florida’s final hit of the game. 

"We were so far away from a couple swings,” Walton said. "Overall, they didn't give us anything and we didn't do anything to give us momentum." 

The Bulldogs had two more hits in the seventh, as Fields singled off Lugo and Payden Bordeau blasted a three-run homer to left field. Lugo then walked her third batter and was pulled for reliever Rylee Trlicek, finishing with three strikeouts and six hits allowed in 6.1 innings.

"I did what I could to try and get my defense back in the dugout," Lugo said. "But I made two mistake pitches and they capitalized on it. We lost the game, but we didn't lose the series. We have two more games to go."

The Gators face elimination Saturday at noon against Georgia. During the regular season, Florida lost the opener at UGA but outscored the Bulldogs 28-2 in the next two games to take the series. 

"We haven't lost a series all year," Walton said. "We've done a good job of being able to rebound from the South Carolina loss, from the Georgia loss. Other than not swinging the bat well today, we've had a very consistent season. We just have to do a better job."

Florida's Emily Wilkie walks toward the home dugout Friday after striking out against Georgia in the NCAA Gainesville Super Regional at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.

Gainesville Super Regional

Georgia vs. Florida at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium

Game 1: Georgia 4, Florida 0

Game 2, 12 p.m. Saturday, ESPN

12 p.m. Sunday, ESPN, if necessary

Tickets: Gators Ticket Office at 352-375-4683