Last night’s contest between the Florida Gators and the Neighbors to the West was probably a perfect summation of Florida softball in 2023. Skylar Wallace hit a home run, Florida had a lead going into the fifth inning, and the Gators couldn’t close out against a ranked opponent.
It was a golden opportunity wasted as Florida is hoping to secure a top 16 seed heading into the NCAA tournament.
Florida Softball: I think I’ve seen this film before
The game started with the Gators taking an early lead when Charla Echols grounded out and scored Skylar Wallace in the first inning. However, the Seminoles responded in the second inning with three runs, thanks to timely hits from Kaley Mudge and Jahni Kerr.
Florida tied the game in the third inning, and took the lead in the fourth when Wallace went yard for her 17th home run of this season.
But as has been the theme this season for Florida softball, the lead didn’t hold as the Seminoles took a 7-4 lead in the fifth inning with Katie Dack’s two-RBI single and Kerr’s two-RBI double.
The Gators trimmed the Seminoles’ lead down to 7-6 in the fifth inning with Sarah Longley’s two-run home run. Florida State managed to add an insurance run in the top of the sixth inning when Mack Leonard drove in Amaya Ross with a sacrifice fly, extending their lead to 8-6.
The Gators closed the gap to 8-7 with Wallace’s second solo home run of the game in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Florida loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning. However, Florida State’s Makenna Reid managed to secure the win by inducing a pop out from Echols, ending the game with an 8-7 victory for the Seminoles.
The win marked the first time since the 2003 season that the Seminoles have secured back-to-back victories in Gainesville.
Going down to the wire with the third ranked team in the country created a moral victory, but it wasted a golden chance for Florida. It makes this weekend’s series against Kentucky not only a must win, but one could argue a must sweep if the Gators want to lay claim as a host site for the upcoming NCAA tournament.