The No.1 Florida Gators softball team will open this weekend’s Aquafina Invitational tournament with an unblemished 11-0 record after a weekend that saw the Gators go a perfect 5-0 and outscore their opponents 25-3.
Illinois State, Mercer, Kansas and Liberty will all travel to Gainesville this weekend to participate in the tournament with hopes of knocking off the number 1 team in the country.
Florida’s first game on Friday at 4:00 will pit the undefeated Gators against the undefeated Kansas Jayhawks (10-0), who have outscored its opponents 86-43 this season.
30 minutes following the Gators game against Kansas, Florida will take the field against Liberty University (4-5) that is coming off of a 5-2 win over Arkansas — the school’s first ever win over a SEC opponent.
Saturday, at 2:15, the Gators will take the field for its 3rd game of the tournament when they host Illinois State, who come into the game with a disappointing 4-6 record, but Illinois State has faced five nationally-ranked opponents this year and the Gators will be number six.
Florida will get a second shot at Kansas on Saturday at 4:30 as the Jayhawks will try to build on their 27th national ranking.
After two-straight days of doubleheaders the Gators will play just one game on Sunday at noon against Mercer who come in with a 6-4 record and are coming off a big 10-4 win over Winthrop on Tuesday night.
That’s a look at this weekend’s game but let’s dig a little deeper into this weekend’s opponents.
Scouting the Jayhawks:
Kansas will be by far the Gators toughest opponent as the Jayhawks have two red hot hitters in Maddie Stein, who is hitting a cool .448 this year, and Chaley Brickey who is hitting .379 so far through 10 games.
As a team Kansas has seven hitters all hitting over .300 and as a team are hitting .330 with 10 home runs and a .536 slugging percentage.
On the mound Alicia Pille is 5-0 with a 1.89 ERA on the year and has four shutouts and a no-hitter already to her credit this year.
Interesting enough is that Kansas has a 2-1 all-time record against the Gators but Florida last played Kansas in 2010 and pounded the Jayhawks, 12-4.
Scouting the Mercer Bears:
A quick look at Mercer shows that the Bears have a solid line-up led by sophomore Taylor Miller who is hitting .500 on the year with three home runs but catcher Natalie Shiver has the team lead in RBI’s with 11.
Scouting the Liberty Flames:
Don’t sleep on Liberty’s bats either and especially catcher Kelby Allen and outfielder Tori Zavodny who are both hitting .400 on the year. The Flames as a team are hitting .265 on the year.
Scouting the Illinois State Redbirds:
Illinois State has 20 extra-base hits on the year and are led by pitcher Regan Romshek who has a .419 batting average, while also hitting six home runs at the plate. Romshek is 3-3 in the circle with a 5.21 ERA but has only struck out 23 batters in six starts on the year.
Leaders for the Gators:
Lauren Haeger won player of the week last week and she continues to lead the way for Florida at the plate with a .464 batting average, 2 home runs and 12 RBI’s and she also has 11 walks to her credit already this year.
In the circle Haeger is getting it done too, with a 5-0 record and a 0.00 ERA while striking 37 batters in just 23 innings pitched.
Maybe the biggest surprise for Florida so far this year is the emergence of freshman Aleshia Ocasio on the mound. Ocasio is 3-0 with a 0.65 ERA in 21.2 innings pitched and has allowed just 12 hits while striking out 36 opposing batters.
Stay tuned to GatorCountry.com all weekend for updates on the Gators softball team.
Weather update due to cold weather
Florida will play Liberty at 4:45 on Friday