No. 6 Florida wrapped up the Bubly Invitational Sunday afternoon with another pair of wins over Charlotte and Georgia Southern. Florida swept the weekend invitational, going 5-0 and improving its overall record to 8-0.
Win: Katie Chronister (4-0)
Loss: Lindsey Walljasper (2-1)
After hurling a complete-game shutout in the Sunday’s rematch against Charlotte, Florida southpaw Katie Chronister picked up her fourth win already this season.
In Florida’s 4-0 win, the Gainesville native struck out six Charlotte batters and allowed just three hits and no walks across seven innings.
“Being able to establish my spots, not leaving too many down the middle and making sure that I have a defense that can work for me will always make me successful,” Chronister said.
Florida catcher Emily Wilkie broke the scoreless tie in the second inning when the freshman safely crossed home plate on designated hitter Jordan Matthews’ double. After hitting a three-run bomb in Saturday’s win over Charlotte to mark her first-career hit, Wilkie led off the bottom of the second with a double down the left-field line.
Following a leadoff single in the top of the third, Charlotte sent a deep fly ball to the warning track, but it stayed in the ballpark as Florida left fielder Jamie Hoover reeled it in for the first out of the inning. Chronister recorded the final two outs before Florida second baseman Hannah Adams led off the bottom of the third with a single. First baseman Kendyl Lindaman’s 10-pitch at-bat resulted in a bloop single into shallow right-center. But the Gators left two runners aboard after Wilkie went down looking for the last out of the inning.
In the fourth, Hoover reached base on an error before Matthews skied a high fly ball that the Charlotte left fielder lost sight of and dropped. Matthews doubled on the play, while Hoover scored all the way from first to give the Gators a 2-0 lead. Following freshman shortstop Kali Reis’ sacrifice bunt, center fielder Cheyenne Lindsey drove in Hoover on a double down the right-field line. After stealing third, Lindsey scored on an Adams squeeze bunt, granting Florida a 4-0 advantage.
Maintaining a 4-0 through five innings, Florida had one last opportunity to add insurance runs before closing it out in the top of the seventh.
Despite loading the bases with one out, Florida failed to capitalize after left fielder Avery Goelz lined out to center field, which led to pinch-runner Mia Buffano getting doubled up at second base for the third out.
In the seventh inning, Chronister took the circle one last time for the Gators with hopes of going the distance; She did just that, retiring the side in order to secure the win.
Georgia Southern: 0-1-2
Win: Elizabeth Hightower (3-0)
Loss: Rylee Waldrep (0-1)
Florida right-hander Elizabeth Hightower retired the first thirteen Georgia Southern batters before surrendering a walk in the top of the fifth that broke her perfect game. The next batter hit a double to left field, putting runners in scoring position and breaking Hightower’s no-hitter hopes. Up 11-0, however, Hightower settled in as she struck out the following two batters to clinch a run-rule win over Georgia Southern.
Head coach Tim Walton praised the strides Hightower has made since her freshman and sophomore seasons. “She’s got some really good stuff, it’s really hard to square her stuff up, especially the first time through the lineup,” Walton said.
The Gators came out of the gate hot in the second game, racking up five runs in the first inning. Adams poked a leadoff double into the right-center-field gap before Lindaman reached on shortstop’s error to put runners in scoring position for sophomore catcher Julia Cottrill. The Wichita, Kansas, native delivered a two-RBI double to put Florida up 2-0.
On the ensuing at-bat, Goelz drove a deep fly ball to the warning track that just barely snuck past the right fielder’s glove, allowing Cottrill to score from second base. Two batters later, Hoover roped a line-drive, RBI-single before scoring on Lindsey’s two-out double to make it 5-0.
After stranding the bases loaded in the second inning, the Gators tacked on two additional runs in the third thanks to third baseman Charla Echols’ gap-double.
After Lindsey and Lindaman hit a pair of two-run doubles in the fourth frame, Florida took a commanding 11-0 lead into the final half-inning where they capped off the run-rule victory.
“The key to this game is being mentally tough,” Walton said. “We have enough pieces to be a good team, but I think to be a great team, it’s going to come down to toughness and cohesion and building off of each other… with a little bit of confidence, a good team can go a long way,” Walton added.
Chronister: 7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K (0.00 Season ERA)
Hightower: 5 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 8 K (0.58 Season ERA)
Lindsey: 4-6, 4 RBI, 3 R (.520 Season BA)
Adams: 4-6, 1 RBI, 3 R, 1 BB (.481 Season BA)
Lindaman: 3-7, 2 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB (.370 Season BA)
Hoover: 3-5, 1 RBI, 3 R (.435 Season BA)
Echols: 1-6, 2 RBI, 2 BB (.519 Season BA)
Cottrill: 2-4, 2 RBI, 1 R (.261 Season BA)
Wilkie: 2-4, 1 R (.375 Season BA)
The Gators will return to Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium to face UNF Thursday before hosting a two-game weekend series against Louisville. Thursday’s first pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. and will air on SEC Network+.