Photo by Brian Fox | ChompTalk.com

Down 2-0 in the bottom of the fifth, Kendyl Lindaman stepped into the batter’s box to face Mississippi State pitcher Annie Willis with runners in scoring position. On a full count, Lindaman ripped an opposite-field, three-run home run to grant Florida its first lead of the day.

“I was just looking for something a little over the plate,” Lindaman said. “Just doing anything to get my team in, wasn’t looking to hit a home run, was just looking to hit a ball hard and have them make a play on it.”

An inning later, Gators third baseman Charla Echols hit a two-out, three-run bomb — her third long ball in the past four games — to give senior right-hander Natalie Lugo insurance heading into the final frame.

Lugo hurled an eight-pitch top of the seventh inning to secure a 6-2 SEC Tournament Quarterfinal victory Thursday in Tuscaloosa.

Florida right-hander Elizabeth Hightower started in the circle and lasted four innings. The junior gave up two earned runs in the top of the second after a leadoff walk and single led to a two-run double down the left-field line.

Willis held the Gators to just two hits through the first four innings and the Bulldogs maintained their advantage until Lindaman’s clutch homer in the fifth.

“Coach [Tim] Walton always says there’s 21 outs and if we have outs on the board, then we always have a chance and we really truly believe that,” Lindaman said.

Lugo relieved Hightower to begin the fifth frame and yielded only one Mississippi State baserunner across the last three innings en route to picking up her 15th win this season — second most on the team behind Hightower (16).

Final (R/H/E)

Mississippi State: 2 / 4 / 0

No. 4 Florida: 6 / 9 / 0

Pitching Decision

Win: Lugo (15-2)

Loss: Willis (16-9)

Individual Stats

Hightower: 4 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 K

Lugo: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K

  1. Adams: 1-3, 1 R, 1 HBP
  2. Wilkie: 0-2, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 HBP
  3. Echols: 3-4, 2 R, 3 RBI, 1 HR (14)
  4. Lindaman: 3-4, 1 R, 3 RBIs, 1 HR (7)
  5. Hoover: 0-4
  6. Matthews: 1-2, 1 BB
  7. Longley: 0-3
  8. A. Goelz: 0-2, 1 BB
  9. Lindsey: 1-3, 1 R

SEC Tournament Semifinals

The Gators will face Missouri in the semifinals Friday at 4 p.m. on ESPN2. In the regular season, Florida won two out of three contests at Mizzou.

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