Softball

Around the Diamond: Can Echols actually replace Lorenz?

Photo by Brian Fox / ChompTalk.com

Charla Echols came to Florida with high expectations.

The sophomore third baseman transferred from Michigan State immediately after leading the Spartans in on-base percentage (.456), hits (45) and runs (31) in 2019. And she came to Gainesville to help the Gators recover from a huge loss.

UF lost one of the best pure hitters in program history in Amanda Lorenz, and the question of how her production could be replaced likely burdened Coach Tim Walton for many moons.

However, 12 games into the 2020 season, Walton may have found a simple answer in Echols.

The Newman, Georgia, native has been locked in since her first at-bat as a Gator, when she smoked a two-RBI double against Illinois State on Feb. 7. And to this point, her production actually meets or exceeds that of Lorenz through 12 games in 2019.

Echols holds a .500 batting average (18 for 36) and a .548 on-base percentage, has clobbered four home runs and 18 RBIs and has scored 12 runs.

During her first 12 games last season, Lorenz batted .459 (17 for 37) with an on-base percentage of .556, belted three home runs and 12 RBIs and scored 13 runs.

Echols has already shown great improvement from this season to last, as she held a .344 batting average at Michigan State and had six homers and 25 RBIs in 45 games.

She may exceed those numbers before the Gators even begin SEC play.

Current Record: 11-1 (ranked No. 8)

Last Week (Monday-Sunday):
6-0 at Bubly Invitational

W 10-2 vs. North Florida (Wednesday)
W 5-0 vs. North Dakota State (Friday)
W 9-0 vs. Longwood (Friday)
W vs. 1-0 North Dakota State (Saturday)
W vs. 11-0 Longwood (Saturday)
W vs. 13-1 vs. Southeastern Louisiana (Sunday)
W vs. 2-1 vs. Florida A&M (Sunday)

Offensive Player of the Week: Hannah Adams

As good of a start as it has been for Echols, Adams went on an absolute tear from the leadoff spot in Week 2. The junior second baseman held a .526 batting average (10 for 19) and .625 on-base percentage (five walks) in UF’s seven contests. She also had four RBIs including a critical home run in the third inning against FAMU.

Pitcher of the Week: Natalie Lugo

Lugo picked up two wins and a save over three appearances and 13.0 innings of action.

She didn’t allow a single run and relinquished just two hits and three walks while she struck out 17. The junior right-hander improved to 4-1 after a complete-game shutout against North Dakota State on Saturday.

Upcoming Games:

Home vs. Jacksonville (Wednesday, 6 p.m.)

Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic (Palm Springs, California):
Neutral vs. No. 4 Arizona (Friday, 3:30 p.m. EST)
Neutral vs. Northwestern (Friday, 6 p.m. EST)
Neutral vs. No. 23 Arizona State (Saturday, 5:30 p.m.
Neutral vs. No. 2 UCLA (Saturday, 8:30 p.m. EST)
Neutral vs. Nebraska (Sunday, 12 p.m. EST)

The Gators will have a difficult slate in California, the home state of Lugo, shortstop Sophia Reynoso and utility player Jordan Matthews. They will face two top-five opponents in No. 4 Arizona and No. 2 UCLA, the reigning WCWS Champion.

Mark Stine is a contributing writer for Chomp Talk. Follow him on Twitter @mstinejr.

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