Two weeks ago, I squaked about the Florida softball team lacking offensive depth outside it’s first three batters: Hanah Adams, Kendyl Lindaman and Charla Echols.
But in the weekend’s three massive SEC-opening wins over Auburn, a lot of production came from two UF underclassmen, which could very well be a taste of more to come.
Sophomore Cheyenne Lindsey and freshman Julia Cottrill hit a combined 13 for 20 with six RBIs, five doubles and seven runs scored over the tilt with the Tigers.
Lindsey knocked an RBI in each game, finishing with five. She also legged out her second triple of the season and stole a base. These flashes show tremendous progress, as she continues her ascenst from an ACL tear suffered in her senior year of high school.
Meanwhile, Cottrill is cementing her spot as the Gators’ regular catcher. She has made just one error behind the dish and has caught five of the eight runners who have attempted to steal a base on her.
Plus her .356 batting average and team-leading eight doubles (three of which came against Auburn) are a fresh addition to the UF lineup, so much so that she’s finding a more consistent placement in the top-half of the order. In three of the last four games, Cottrill batted either second or third.
The offensive diversity didn’t stop Lindsey and Cottrill; Lindaman and Echols only accounted for 15 percent of UF’s hits (5 of 34) and just one of its 18 RBIs against Auburn.
The Gators are also finding alternative methods to get on base and score. Freshman Baylee Goddard has been hit by an NCAA-leading 16 pitches this season, four more than second-place. With the aid of those plunks, Goddard leads UF in on-base percentage (.545) and stolen bases (5) and ranks third in runs scored (15).
These new means of production proved almost frivolous against Auburn, as Florida outscored the Tigers 19-1. However, they’ll be essential if this UF team is going to continue achieving at the elite standards set in the previous decade.
Current Record: 21-4 (ranked No. 7 in NFCA Coaches Poll)
Last Week (Monday-Sunday): 4-0
W 3-1 vs. Florida Gulf Coast (Wednesday)
W 6-0 vs. Auburn (Friday)
W 2-1 vs. Auburn (Saturday)
W 11-0 vs. Auburn (Sunday)
Offensive Player of the Week: Cheyenne Lindsey
Lindsey was easily Florida’s hottest hitter last week’s four contests. She was 9 for 13 with five RBI, two doubles, a triple and five runs scored. Lindsey is now second on the team in batting average (.397) and is the only Gator to hit a triple, doing so twice this year.
Pitcher of the Week: Rylee Trlicek
After a short and unforgiving outing against Louisiana, it was quite encouraging to see Trlicek bounce back against an SEC rival in Auburn. The freshman gave up just nine hits and two walks in 12 scoreless innings against the Tigers. On Friday, she became the first freshman in Florida history to toss a complete-game shutout in an SEC opener.
Home vs. Penn (Tuesday, 2 p.m.)
Home vs. No. 12 Florida State (Wednesday, 6 p.m.)
Home vs. No. 23 Baylor (Frida, 6 p.m.)
Home vs. No. 23 Baylor (Saturday, 1 p.m.)
Home vs. No. 23 Baylor (Sunday, 1 p.m.)
The Gators have a tune-up in Penn before its first of two showdowns with No. 12 Florida State. However, the weekend series with No. 23 Baylor proves particularly interesting based on how unbelievably tough the Bears are when they’re hot, and how vulnerable they are when they’re not. Baylor secured a season-opening 8-0 win over then-No. 23 Auburn, a 2-1 victory over No. 18 Minnesota, a 3-2 triumph over No. 20 Arkansas and a 2-1 win over FSU. However, they also suffered a 3-0 loss to Missouri State, a 7-3 defeat to Villanova and and 1-0 head-shaker to UT-Arlington.
Mark Stine is a contributing writer for Chomp Talk. Follow him on Twitter @mstinejr.