The No. 3 ranked Florida Gators (28-2) softball team is going through a tough stretch of games to start the SEC schedule and this weekend that stretch takes them on the road to Tuscaloosa to take on No. 5 Alabama Crimson Tide (21-5).
This series will be much like last weekend’s series against LSU where these two teams both come in with good records and plenty of talent.
Alabama will be looking to get revenge for the Gators sweeping the Crimson Tide in Oklahoma City last year to win the Women’s College Series, but the good news is the Gators are coming in chomping at the bit to get off of a two-game losing streak.
How the teams got here:
Florida had a great non-conference schedule which saw the Gators take down No.2 Oregon twice, No. 3 Michigan twice and No. 13 Arizona but Florida struggled with No. 2 LSU last weekend.
The Gators lost two out of three to LSU and didn’t look like the same team that we’re accustomed to watching this season from Tim Walton’s girls.
Alabama also played a tough non-conference schedule but they lost two games to No.3 Michigan in Tuscaloosa. However,the Tide did take two out of three from a good Louisiana Lafayette team.
The Crimson Tide have started conference played much better than the Gators, though, and are 5-1 so far with a sweep against Ole Miss and won two out of three against No. 8 Georgia in Athens.
In the batter’s box:
The Gators batting average dropped to .313 as a team after a bad weekend at the plate against LSU despite scoring 10 runs in game two.
Florida is led at the plate by leadoff hitter Kelsey Stewart who is hitting .398 this season and is on a 13-game hitting streak.
Florida’s average may have dropped but the power numbers certainly are still there as the Gators have hit 46 long balls this season already.
Alabama isn’t hitting too much better than Florida at the plate as the Tide comes in hitting .322 this season but have hit much better in conference play so far.
The power numbers are way down for Alabama, however, as a team they have only hit 16 long balls but they do have 43 doubles so far this season.
At the plate Alabama is led by Demi Turner who is hitting .488 with on base percentage of .500 as she’s the table starter for the Tide.
In the circle:
The Gators pitching staff was rocked last weekend to say the least but still have a team ERA of 1.39 on the year in 187 innings pitched while striking out 257 batters.
Lauren Haeger is still a perfect 12-0 on the season with a 1.28 ERA and seven complete games. The Gators will certainly rely on her experience this weekend.
Alabama uses a three woman rotation, much like Florida does, and they have a 1.98 ERA this year in 169.1 innings pitched and have struck out 179 batters so far this season.
Sydney Littlejohn is the Tide’s new ace replacing Jackie Traina as Littlejohn has already threw a perfect game this year and is 8-1 so far this year.
Players to watch:
Lauren Haeger struggled badly last weekend and the Gators need her to be the run producer that she is and also produce the power numbers she is capable of. So far this Haeger is hitting .356 with 9 home runs and 34 RBI’s.
Taylor Fuller had a big weekend last weekend and she has tied the team lead for home runs with 9 and she has also driven in 34 runs.
In the circle Florida needs freshman Aleshia Ocasio to have a good weekend after taking two losses last weekend. Ocasio now has a 1.34 ERA and is 9-2 on the year. Ocasio is likely to get the ball on Friday for Florida.
Haylie McCleney is Alabama’s Kelsey Stewart in that she’s the table setter and she’s hitting .481 this year with on base percentage of .584. McCleney has 19 stolen bases on the year.
Marisa Runyon is the Tide’s power hitter as she has hit four home runs this year and driven in 19 runs while batting .302.
This weekend is sure to be an enjoyable weekend on the diamond and make sure to stay tuned to GatorCountry.com for all of the latest on these games as here’s is this weekend’s schedule that has the rare Saturday-Monday schedule.
Saturday at 2:00 P.M. on ESPNU
Sunday at 5.30 P.M. on ESPNU
Monday at 7:00 P.M. on SEC Network