Florida softball: Gators stay perfect with 8-0 win over Florida A&M

Ainslie Lee
Gator Sports
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The fourth-ranked Florida Gators softball team capped off a long weekend of action during its matinee matchup against the Florida A&M Rattlers on Sunday in a game that finished up in just an hour and 26 minutes with the Gators coming away with an 8-0 shutout victory in five innings. 

Gators, Rattlers trade quick innings

Opening the game in the circle for the Gators was junior southpaw Rylee Trlicek, whose trip to the rubber was her first start of the season. 

Trlicek and the Florida defense put two down quickly as FAMU junior Mia Blasingane and freshman Kiauna Watson each grounded out in their first at-bats. 

Batting cleanup for the Rattlers, junior Niah Morgan followed the pair of quick outs with a two-out, two-strike base hit that pushed through the right side for the first of FAMU's pair of hits on the day. 

However, a flashy play from Florida fifth-year second baseman Hannah Adams would end the inning as she grabbed a line drive that was cracked off the bat of FAMU junior Destiny Cuevas to retire the side, leaving Morgan stranded on first. 

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But the Rattlers, who were led by junior Cris'Deona Beasley in the circle, fired right back at the Gators, putting Florida down in order to close the scoreless inning. 

In the top of the second inning with the Rattlers up to bat, Trlicek and the Gators returned FAMU's favor and dished a three-up, three-down inning as Florida's defense forced a pair of outs and Trlicek notched her first strikeout of the day against freshman Measia Armstrong.

"I produce groundballs and just let my defense work for me," Trlicek said. "Just stick to my lower pitches, my drop ball and just locating them well and letting my defense do what they do because they're one of the best defenses in the country, so why not let them help me out and put it all on me."

Florida's offense opens up in second inning

Ignited by a leadoff that allowed Florida's senior third baseman Charla Echols to take a free base, the Gators' offense began to find its groove in the bottom of the second. 

Echols later stole second and advanced to third on the overthrow from behind the plate to second base. 

With Echols on the doorstep, Beasley's rough inning continued as she walked Florida freshman Reagan Walsh, putting runners on the corners for senior Cheyenne Lindsey, who popped out — but not before Echols could score on a wild pitch. 

Florida sophomore Emily Wilkie drove in Walsh with a sacrifice grounder to shortstop, giving the Gators a 2-0 lead, which was added to when Florida freshman Kendra Falby knocked a two out, two on double to plate Florida's third run of the inning.

"Kendra doesn't lack confidence. She's definitely a confident kid, but she carries herself in a way that allows her to be consistent," Florida head coach Tim Walton said. "She's not arrogant. She's not cocky. She's confident she does a good job."

The Gators poured on five more runs throughout the game with a pair coming in both the third and fourth innings, followed by one run in the fifth inning to end the game. 

Echols, who led the Gators' hitting efforts in 2021 with a .375 average and 15 home runs, came into Sunday's matchup with a .242 average and still looking for her first long ball of her season. 

In the bottom of the third inning, Echols smacked a two-run home run out past the right-field foul pole to extend Florida's lead over FAMU out to 5-0. 

"I'm just trying to find my swing right now," Echols said. "It's been a little bit of a process. Thankfully my teammates have been doing great without me producing a lot, so that's been good for me... But yeah, I'm feeling good right now. So hopefully today will happen the rest of the year."

Florida would score a pair of runs in the fourth inning as Falby stole home on a wild pitch and Echols drove home junior Skylar Wallace with an RBI single.

Falby would later drive in the final run in the fifth inning with a walk-off base hit to score freshman Sam Roe and grab the 8-0 win. 

Rattlers show life in fifth, but couldn't scratch one across

Trailing 7-0, the Rattlers showed some life in the fifth inning as Trlicek leadoff with a walk, allowing senior Brandice Boatwright to take a free base. 

FAMU's Armstrong followed the leadoff walk with a double to left field, putting two runners in scoring position for senior Anizya Vargas and prompting a pitching change for the Gators. 

"When (Trlicek) didn't hit her spots, they let her know about it," Walton said of FAMU's lineup. "Couple of nice hitters for them. I think their three and their five hole hitter (Morgan, Boatwright) hit the ball hard."

After giving up the walk and double, Trlicek saw her day end after four innings of action that featured a pair of hits and a pair of strikeouts through 14 at-bats. 

Relieving Trlicek was fifth-year righty, Marissa Mesiemore, who inherited two runners in scoring position and no outs. 

After facing just two batters, Mesiemore and the Gators' defense got out of the jam without allowing the Rattlers to plate a run and keeping the shutout alive. 

The Gators, who improved to 10-0 on the season, notched their sixth shutout of the season against the Rattlers, who fell to 1-8. 

Looking ahead

After a long weekend of softball that saw the Gators play four games in three days, Florida will return to action on Tuesday night as it heads to Jacksonville to take on the University of North Florida Ospreys at 6. 

Meanwhile, the FAMU Rattlers will visit cross-town foe Florida State on Wednesday night at 6. 

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