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Osprey softball drops doubleheader to UF in front of record crowd

In front of the second largest crowd ever at the UNF Softball Complex, the University of North Florida softball team lost a doubleheader to the Florida Gators on Wednesday night. 

UNF versus UF brought a large crowd indeed, with UNF Athletics reporting 519 fans in attendance (Ethan Howick)

Game 1

The Gators scored first, starting the game with two singles and a stolen base off of UNF starting pitcher Halle Arends. Trailing 1-0, the Ospreys produced a pair of baserunners courtesy of a Madisyn Federico single and a Shannon Glover walk. But the Gators pitched out of the threat, allowing zero runs in the inning. 

Already up 1-0, UF began the second inning with two walks off Arends. The Gators took advantage of the free baserunners, as pitcher Ava Brown launched a three-run homer, giving the Gators a 4-0 lead. Florida added another run against new Osprey pitcher Ashley Connor as UNF went up to bat again, facing a 5-0 deficit. 

North Florida started the second inning with a Savannah Channell walk. However, the baserunner was taken away by a double play. The Ospreys failed to produce a run and were still trailing 5-0 in the third inning.  

Connor held the Gators scoreless in the next three innings despite allowing several baserunners, courtesy of a tag out at home plate and a big double play in the fifth inning. 

However, North Florida’s offense failed to capitalize, as the Ospreys did not record a run during the game. 

“[Connor] throws a lot of strikes,” said head coach Jeff Conrad. “I thought she was a bright spot.”

Conrad finished by saying he looks forward to expanding Connor’s pitching role. 

UF added five runs in the sixth inning off of UNF pitcher Kylah Berry, forcing a 10-0 mercy rule loss in six innings. 

Game 2

Game two began with Florida striking first, courtesy of two triples off of starting pitcher Allison Benning. Starting the game down 2-0, the Ospreys did not get a baserunner in the bottom of the first. 

The Gators added three runs in the second inning with two bases-loaded walks while facing Benning. Trailing 5-0, pitcher Allison Benning hit a line drive to Florida shortstop Skylar Wallace, who made a diving catch for the out. 

New pitcher Ashley Connor held the Gators scoreless in the top of the third inning, but the Ospreys failed to get a hit for the third straight inning. UF pitcher Keagan Rothrock did not allow a baserunner until Shannon Glover singled in the fourth inning. 

The Gators hit three homers in the top of the fifth inning and cruised to another run-rule victory. The only difference between the two games is the Ospreys notched one more hit and allowed four fewer runs in the first game.

Despite giving up 24 total runs, Conrad felt good about the pitching matchups. 

“When we play these SEC teams, that strike zone shrinks a little bit,” said Conrad. “We feel good about our staff.”

The Ospreys ended up losing 14-0 in the second game, with their overall record now at 9-5  

North Florida will travel to Tempe, Arizona, to face four teams in the Arizona State University Invitational from March 1 to 3. 

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About the Contributors
Ethan Howick, Sports Reporter
Ethan Howick is a first-year communications major at the University of North Florida. Ethan has a passion for sports journalism with hopes of becoming a journalist and/or broadcaster for a sports media company someday. During his free time, Ethan enjoys spending time with his family and attending many sporting events with friends.
Justin Nedrow, Photographer
Justin Nedrow is a Jacksonville-based photographer who started volunteering for Spinnaker in 2020 and recently graduated in spring 2023 with a degree in sports management from the University of North Florida. Taking hundreds, if not thousands, of photos, Justin has helped Spinnaker reporters cover everything from sports games, protests, ordinary campus life and more. Photography is a passion project for Justin, one he started to meet new people and express himself without words.

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