Natalie Lugo gazed toward the sky as the softball sailed over her head and past her back-tracking center fielder, Alex Voss.
One of the storylines for the UF softball team in its SEC opening-weekend series was if pitc…
The yellow orb disappeared behind the 220-foot marker in dead center, and the UF pitcher watched her coach, Tim Walton, emerge from the dugout to take the ball from her hand.
The third inning had just begun, and Lugo had already given up her third solo home run.
One day after fellow starting pitcher Kelly Barnhill relinquished three home runs, Lugo followed suit.
The home run barrage gave No. 7 Tennessee seven homers in two games against the Gators and a 3-0 victory on Saturday. It’s the first time since March 2007 that the Volunteers won a series over Florida in Gainesville.
“I think the biggest disappointment for me is for the fans,” Walton said. “The fans came out last night in big numbers, tonight in big numbers, and we were about as boring to watch as watching (TCM) sometimes.”
Lugo seemed to be in control to start the game. She struck out the first two batters she faced.
UT right fielder Haley Bearden worked Lugo to a 3-2 count with one out in the top of the second, then hammered the day’s first home run to right field. Shortstop Gracie Osborn stepped into the batter’s box and battered the very next pitch to straightaway center.
Volunteers All-American second baseman Aubrey Leach led off the third inning with her solo bomb to dead center, and that was the end of the day for Lugo.
Freshman pitcher Elizabeth Hightower finished the game for the Gators. She allowed only two hits and struck out six Volunteers over five innings of action.
The three home runs were all the offense Tennessee needed. It totalled six hits, no walks and didn’t advance a single runner into scoring position.
The Florida offense mustered three hits and two walks against freshman pitcher Ashley Rogers. She hurled a complete game and didn’t allow a hit in the final three innings.
The leadoff triple by All-American Amanda Lorenz in the bottom of the first summed up UF’s game offensively. It appeared destined to leave the park but bounced off the left-field fence, allowing Lorenz to advance to third standing up. Rogers forced a line out, pop out and strikeout to end the threat, which was Florida’s best scoring opportunity of the contest.
The Gators had runners on first and second with two outs for Danielle Romanello in the third, but she struck out swinging.
Lorenz walked and advanced to second on a wild pitch with one out in the fifth. Catcher Kendyl Lindaman flied out to the warning track left field, and second baseman Hannah Adams flied out to deep center field to end the inning.
“I think we’re really working hard in practice, and it’s not translating right now,” Lorenz said. “I think we’re in a little hiccup right now and we just need to push through it and find our way. It happens every single year.”
Follow Mark Stine on Twitter @mstinejr and contact him at [email protected].