Florida Gators softball open NCAA regionals with win over Canisius at Gainesville regional

Graham Hall
Gator Sports

Facing a turnaround of less than 24 hours until their second game, the 14th-ranked Florida softball team made quick work of Canisius, defeating the Golden Griffins, 10-1, by run-rule at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium. 

Both teams had chances early, but only the host Gators would capitalize on their scoring opportunities. 

After Canisius (32-17) left a pair of runners stranded in the opening frame, Skylar Wallace’s seventh home run of the season in the bottom half of the first inning gave the Gators (44-16) a 1-0 lead in the postseason opener. 

Sam Roe’s three-run home run with two outs in the second inning pushed Florida’s advantage to 4-0, and UF didn’t get complacent despite having built an early four-run lead, much to the delight of Florida head coach Tim Walton, who made sure to point out how noteworthy the start was for his team. 

Tune in:How to watch Florida Gators vs. Georgia Tech in the NCAA softball tournament on TV, live stream

'Buffalo Strong':Canisius represents Buffalo at NCAA tournament in Gainesville after mass shooting in hometown

Look back at SEC tournament:Takeaways from Florida softball's SEC tournament play

Florida softball schedule:Florida Gators softball hosts NCAA regional: See schedule for games in Gainesville

The University of Florida's Sam Roe (13) tags home after hitting a three-run home run as the Gators play Canisius during the opening game of the Gainesville Regionals in the NCAA Softball Championships, at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium in Gainesville Fla. May 20, 2022.

“The young people that I have make every year unique and make every year fun, because somebody’s doing something pretty cool they’ve never done before. Sam has never hit a home run in an NCAA Tournament, and boom, she does that in her first at-bat,” Walton said. “Skylar Wallace has never played shortstop in the NCAA Tournament for the Gators, and it’s just fun to see young people keep me young.”

After Hannah Adams flied out to lead off the third inning for the Gators, Wallace proceeded to hit a single up the second base line, but a throwing error on Saige Alfaro sent Wallace to second. Charla Echols would score Wallace with a single up the middle, pushing Florida’s lead to 5-0 and bringing Cheyenne Lindsey to the plate with one out. Lindsey tripled to right-center field, plating a pair of runs, and Katie Kistler’s RBI groundout gave the Gators an 8-0 lead, bringing the run rule into effect before the arrival of the fourth frame. 

Canisius loaded the bases with no outs in the fourth, however, and Walton opted to replace starter Lexie Delbrey on the mound with junior Rylee Trlicek. 

The first batter Trlicek faced, Sophia Recrosio, hit into a fielder’s choice, but Trlicek’s throw to home was underthrown, and Roe had to step off the base to make the catch, resulting in Canisius plating a run and squashing Florida’s shutout hopes. 

Trlicek would strike out the next two batters to get the Gators out of the inning without incurring further damage, though soon the game was paused due to lightning in the area. Following a 57-minute delay, the teams resumed the contest under clear skies, wherein the Gators tacked on two additional runs to erase Canisius’ hopes of rallying. 

With the first victory secured, the Gators turn their attention to a matchup Saturday at 3 p.m. with Georgia Tech after the Yellow Jackets defeated Wisconsin, 2-1, in the first game of the Gainesville Regional. 

“I’m just happy to get a game one win under our belt,” Walton said, “and we’re ready to go tomorrow versus Georgia Tech.”

Here are takeaways from Friday’s contest.

Mother Nature a factor again

Rain and weather delays are nothing new to the Gators.

“We’ve done this enough now in this state,” Walton said. “I got right with our nutritionist to get with our game-ops person to find out exactly what the delay was going to look like.”

Fortunately, Walton received good news with Friday's lightning delay: the game would resume within the hour. Any hopes he had of squeezing in some mid-game exercise would have to wait.

“I didn’t get my run in on the treadmill yet, so I was thinking if we were going to be a little bit longer I could go get my workout and then come back down and get after it,” Walton said, “but they said it was going to be pretty quick, so they were good, we were ready.”

No regrets despite Rylee Trlicek’s error

Walton didn’t lament the decision to insert Rylee Trlicek on the mound instead of Natalie Lugo in a pressure-filled situation, saying he would make the same decision against the Yellow Jackets. The Gators achieved the desired result, and Trlicek allowed a lone run in a bases-loaded, one-out scenario. 

But Walton did express his disappointment in Trlicek’s fielding error. 

“Obviously, she made good pitches,” Walton began. “But, I mean, quite honestly, I expect her to be able to deliver the package to Sam for an easy force. I mean, she could have ran it all the way to the plate probably. When you see that happen, and you see it, that’s five times in a row, it breaks my heart, to be honest with you. To see that kind of kid, that works that way — she’s as hard of a worker as we have in this program — it breaks my heart to see her not be able to execute exactly what we’re expecting her to do from a fielding position.”

Cheyenne Lindsey’s eighth triple of the season 

Cheyenne Lindsey’s hit in the third inning marked her eighth triple of the season, and it gave the Gators a commanding 7-0 advantage in their NCAA Tournament opener. 

It may have been Lindsey’s lone hit of the night, but it was an effective one.

Saturday's games in Gainesville

GAME 3: Florida vs. Georgia Tech, 3 p.m. 

GAME 4: Canisius vs. Wisconsin, 5:30 p.m. 

GAME 5: Game 4 winner and game 3 loser, 8 p.m.