Gators softball: No. 8 Florida suffers first sweep since 2019 at hands of No. 7 Arkansas
For the first time since April 2019, the Florida Gators softball team suffered a three-game series sweep over the weekend.
After dropping game one, 9-1, and game two, 5-4, the eighth-ranked Gators (35-11, 11-9 SEC) fell to the seventh-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks (34-8, 13-4 SEC) 2-0 on Sunday afternoon at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.
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Here are three takeaways from the Gators' turbulent weekend at home:
The Gators miss Hannah Adams
In an unfortunate case of irony, Florida was without five-year veteran second baseman Hannah Adams during the weekend's series, which also served as senior weekend for the Gators.
Florida head coach Tim Walton knew losing Adams to a hand injury on April 15 would be a tough blow as Adams hadn't missed a game throughout her entire career before the injury.
But a handful of errors from the Gators' infield over the weekend proved just how significant not having Adams is.
"We miss her a ton," Walton said of Adams following Sunday's game. "There's no question about that."
Florida freshman Sam Roe got the start at second base in Friday night's matchup and went on to commit two costly errors, which prompted Walton to make another shift.
In games two and three, the Gators' typical shortstop, Skylar Wallace, moved over to second base, while junior Sarah Longley started at shortstop.
That shift proved stronger through Saturday's game, but faltered in Sunday's contest as Longley committed a throwing error, which allowed the Razorbacks to scratch across an insurance run in the sixth inning.
The Gators also are missing Adams at the plate as Roe and Longley went a combined 1 for 12 against the Razorbacks over the weekend.
Florida still looking for better swings at better pitches
Taking better swings at better pitches has been a point of emphasis for Walton all season.
And after the weekend's showing from the plate, it's safe to say that he and the Gators are still looking to improve on that facet.
Arkansas' starting pitcher on Friday and Sunday, junior Chenise Delce, picked up a pair of wins in Gainesville after giving up a combined six hits, two walks and one earned run, while also tallying 16 strikeouts.
"She had a really good weekend," Walton said of Delce. "If you look at her SEC stats, she's been doing that regularly. She's got some good stuff... But to see the same swings over and over again, not where I want to be. That's for sure."
As a team, the Gators went 12 for 71 against the Razorbacks — good for a combined average of .169.
And while Florida's lack of hits is certainly of concern, the lineup's inability to draw walks also is glaring.
While the Gators gave up 13 walks over the weekend, they drew just three.
"I think that's probably the biggest difference here in the last three-plus years. We look very mediocre in plus counts," Walton said. "And I think that's part of a mentality, that's part of the process... but with the younger people, they're not looking to walk. And give them credit, they're looking to hit. They're not scared. But I do feel like we're backwards at times — we take really good pitches and swing at bad ones."
UF pitchers help highlight rocky weekend
Six different pitchers took the circle for the Gators over the weekend with senior Elizabeth Hightower shouldering a majority of the load with 9.2 innings of work.
Starting both Friday and Sunday's games, Hightower tallied nine strikeouts, five hits and one earned run.
Florida junior southpaw Rylee Trlicek also notched nice outings from the rubber in appearances on Saturday and Sunday that totaled 5.1 innings and saw her give up six hits, one earned run and four strikeouts.
"I think the positives are that we have been playing, for the most part... we've been playing good defense," Walton said.