JAGUAR SOFTBALL’S POSTSEASON RUN COMES TO AN END

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The University of South Alabama softball team saw it’s postseason run come to an end Saturday as the Jaguars dropped a pair of games, falling to (1) Florida, 10-0 and (4) South Florida, 1-0 at the Gainesville Regional held at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.

The fourth-ranked Gators received a complete-game effort from Natalie Lugo as she allowed just two hits and a pair of walks, while striking out 11 in game one of the day.

Olivia Lackie tossed a three-hitter in the nightcap, but South Florida’s Josie Foreman’s solo home run in the top of the second proved to be the difference.

UP NEXT
– With the two losses, South Alabama’s (31-21) 2021 season ends.  

(3) SOUTH ALABAMA at (1) FLORIDA
Date: 5/22
Place: Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium (Gainesville, Fla.) – Gainesville Regional – NCAA DI Softball Championship

Final Score: (1) Florida 10, (3) South Alabama 0
Records: Florida (44-9), South Alabama (31-20)
Pitchers of Record: WP – Natalie Lugo (17-2)  LP – Olivia Lackie (19-11)
Home Runs: UF: Charla Echols (15)

GAME FACTS
– Florida took the early lead with a pair of runs on one hit in the top of the first. Hannah Adams walked to lead off the game and Emily Wilke was hit by a pitch to put a pair of runners on base for the Gators. Julia Cottrill earned the second walk of the inning for UF to load the bases after working the count full. Florida broke the scoreless tie on the next at-bat as Jaimie Hoover reached on an infield single that plated a pair of runs (0-2).
– Echols led off the top of the third with a solo home run to right – her 15th of the spring – to give the Gators a 3-0 advantage.
– Caroline Nichols recorded the first hit of the afternoon for the Jaguars with a two-out single back up the middle – ending a streak of eight-straight retired batters by Lugo, including five-straight strikeouts. Nichols then moved into scoring position with her 13th stolen base of the season, but the Gator right-hander was able to get a fly out to right to end the inning.
– In Florida’s half of the fifth, Echols lined a one-out double – her second extra-base hit of the contest – and Kendyl Lindaman reached on an infield single to put runners at the corners. After a fielder’s choice cut down Echols at the plate, Hoover walked to load the bases with two away. Baylee Goodard then drew a five-pitch walk to score a run and extend UF’s lead to 4-0.
– Abby Krzywiecki became the second base runner for the Jags as she drew a leadoff walk to start the bottom half of the fifth, but Lugo retired the next three.
– Cheyenne Lindsey led off the sixth with an infield single and then stole her 13th base of the season to move into scoring position. Adams dropped in a single in shallow center to put runners at the corners. Wilke recorded the Gators’ third-straight base hit of the inning with a single to left to score Lindsey and make it 5-0 in favor of the tourney host. Echols then drove in her second run of the afternoon with a sac fly to foul territory in left for UF’s sixth run of the game. Cottrill drove in the third run of the inning as she bounced a single back up the middle to score a Gator runner from second (0-7).
– Nichols reached for the second time with a leadoff walk to start the Jaguar sixth with a nine-pitch at-bat, and moved to third after a pair of groundouts, but Lugo kept the Jags off the board with a fly out to left.
– Goodard walked to begin the seventh and Sarah Longley put runners at the corners as she lined a single to right with nobody out. Goodard then came home to score the eighth run of the contest for UF on Lindsey’s RBI ground out. With two outs, Wilkie dropped a double just inside the left field foul line to put runners at second and third. Echols then walked to load the bases – reaching for the third time in the game, and Lindaman made it 10-0 Gators with a two-run single to right.

NOTES
– Saturday’s meeting marks the first time South has faced the Gators in postseason, but the seventh time that the Jaguars have faced a team from the Southeastern Conference in an NCAA Regional.
– The game against the fourth-ranked Gators marked the 13th versus a ranked opponent this season, marking for third most in a season. USA faced 14 ranked opponents during both the 2018 and 2014 seasons.
– With her start in the circle, Lackie made her 41st appearance of the season, moving her into a tie for ninth all-time in the category.
– The 10 runs scored by the Gators are the most recorded by a Jaguar opponent in a NCAA Regional game.
– With her seventh-inning single, Abby Allen extended her hit streak to four. She has also reached base safely in each of her last six outings.
– South Alabama had just four base runners in the contest with Nichols recording two of those spots with a base hit and a walk.
All nine starters had at least one hit or scored a run, and the 1-4 hole hitters combined to record seven of UF’s 11 hits, scored six runs and drove in five.
– Echols was 2-for-3 with a walk, a run scored and two RBI, while Lindaman also had a pair of hits and drove in two runs. Adams scored three times and Wilkie was 2-for-4 with two runs scored and a RBI.
– In addition to her 11 strikeouts, Lugo also recorded seven ground ball outs and just three fly ball outs.

(3) SOUTH ALABAMA vs. (4) SOUTH FLORIDA
Final Score: (4) South Florida 1, (3) South Alabama 0
Records: South Florida (31-18), South Alabama (31-21)
Pitchers of Record: WP – Georgina Corrick (24-8)  LP – Olivia Lackie (19-12)
Home Runs: USF: Josie Foreman (3)

GAME FACTS
– South Florida struck first as Josie Foreman homered over the wall in left with two away in the top of the second, putting the Bulls up 1-0.
– South Alabama looked as if it might get a rally going in its half of the fourth. Nichols led off the inning and broke up the no-hit bid by Corrick with an infield single. The Jag leftfielder then moved up to second when Mackenzie Brasher reached on a USF error while sacrificing the runner over as the throw pulled the first baseman off the bag. However, Corrick retired the next three Jaguar batters – two coming via a strikeout including one to end the inning – and work out of the jam.
– Keel led off the bottom half of the sixth with an infield single to put the tying run aboard, and Nichols reached on an infield single to put the potential go-ahead run on base. With two away, Abby Allen was hit by a pitch to load the bases, but Corrick was able to get ground out to first to maintain the one-run advantage for the Bulls.
– Corrick pitched her fifth 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the seventh and recorded her 13th strikeout to end the game.

NOTES
– The elimination game meeting marked the first in the all-time series between the two clubs and the first postseason meeting by the Jaguars versus an opponent from the American Athletic Conference. It was the 12th overall versus the league.
– With her sixth-inning strikeout, Lackie became just the fifth Jaguar pitcher to record 250 strikeouts for her career.
– The Walker, La., native joined former Jags Devin Brown (932 – 2015-18), Beth Pilgrim (735 – 2007-10), Hannah Campbell (666 – 2011-14), Farish Beard (606 – 2012-15) and Lackie (250 – 2021). She already holds the second-most strikeouts in a season in program history.
– The start marked the 26th of the season for Lackie, tying for ninth on the career charts with former Jags Linden Jones (2007) and Amanda Leggett (2007-08). The 26 starts in the circle are also the most by a freshman at South Alabama.
– Nichols recorded two of South Alabama’s three hits, marking her ninth multi-hit game of the season.
– With the win, South Florida advances to the Regional Championship game versus top-seeded Florida.

THEY SAID IT
Head coach Becky Clark

– On the two games:
“We did face two good pitchers today, but I also feel that we helped them out some. We faced two good arms and I don’t want to take anything away from what they did, but from an offensive standpoint, there were places in there where we didn’t make adjustments that we needed to make. We had some opportunities with runners in scoring position, and we have to be able to put a ball in play, and we didn’t. I’m frustrated and disappointed with that aspect. I feel like we have the team that could’ve been playing tomorrow against Florida, but we didn’t get the job done. This time of year, if you don’t get the job done, you go home.”
– On Olivia Lackie’s performance in the circle against South Florida:
“Olivia gave us more than a chance against USF. She was running on fumes and he gave us absolutely everything she had and left it all out on the field. We’ve asked a lot of her this season and put a lot on her shoulders. All she’s done is go out there and work and work and work, and try to give her team a chance. I think that’s why this loss is so frustrating because we weren’t able to push across one of those runs for her. It’s one of those things where you have to find a way to get the job done. I hate it for her, because she pitched well enough to win [against USF]. Going into next season, we have to figure out and be better in giving her run support.”
– On the accomplishments of Lackie this season:
“I think it’s hard to really give her the credit that’s she’s due. When she first came in during the fall, there were some adjustments that she had to make, and things mentally that she was having to figure out as it relates to the transition from high school to college. Just to know where she was in the fall and where she finished up here at the end is pretty amazing. She’s always been a good pitcher and someone who’s always had a lot of success on the mound throughout her career. I’m happy to see her come in and do what she did.
“There’s nothing but improvement for her and she has a really high ceiling. I feel that she still has more velocity in her, and this summer will be really big for her. We have two other pitches that we want to add to her arsenal, which I feel will help her out a lot. She has to have an effective change of speed. It’s hard to face a Florida team without some kind of change of speed and get them off time. Same thing at the end of the South Florida game. You’re running on fumes, and it would be nice to have that change up that you can pull out every now and then. She still has room for growth, and we’ll be working hard this summer with her. I feel that you’ll see some really impressive things from her in the next three years.”
– On reflecting on this season and what’s ahead for this program:
“I’m pretty frustrated right now, because I thought [USF] was a game we could win. When you get a couple of days away from tonight, you will be able to reflect on everything and realize that your players just put together a great season. We won 31 games and it’s been a minute since we’ve done so, and that’s a big deal. Getting into the postseason, especially with the younger kids that we have on the roster, was big. It was important for them to see what postseason was like, because you can’t replicate that in practice or fabricate this kind of environment. For them to get that experience and be able to do it in front of these types of crowds was a really big deal. We just have to get better. There are a lot of places where we just didn’t get our job done this weekend and that’s bit us today and hurt us. We have to reflect on those things and moving forward, we have to get better if we want to continue playing in the postseason.”

For more information about South Alabama athletics, check back with www.usajaguars.com, and follow the Jaguars at www.twitter.com/WeAreSouth_JAGS. Season tickets for all Jaguar athletic events can be purchased by calling (251) 461-1USA (1872).

Join the Bullpen Club, the softball specific support club of the Jaguar Athletic Fund.  Members have access to purchase parking passes and receive Jaguar Softball gear.  All donations to the Bullpen Club go directly to support the South Alabama softball program.  For more information on how you can join visit:  jaguarathleticfund.com/bullpenclub.

—USA—

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