Gators duel ‘Dawgs in weekend series

The team has eight All-Americans and back-to-back Women’s College World Series Final Four appearances.

Sound like the No. 2 University of Florida softball team?

It’s not.

These numbers actually belong to the Gators’ weekend series opponent, the No. 3 University of Georgia Bulldogs.

The Gators (30-1, 7-0 SEC) host the Bulldogs (23-4, 5-3 SEC) for a three-game series starting Friday at 5 p.m. Both teams are national powers and contenders for the WCWS in Oklahoma City.

Coming into this matchup, the Gators and the Bulldogs are headed in opposite directions. In the past week, the Gators defeated Mississippi State in a mid-week doubleheader. They followed up the MSU victories with a weekend sweep of Ole Miss in Oxford.

In their last five victories, the Gators have outscored their SEC rivals 63-7, smashed eight home runs, and drawn 38 walks, while being led by SEC Player of the Week Kelsey Bruder.

For the Gators, it has been all about Bruder lately.

The senior dominated opposing pitchers last week with a .769 batting average, an .850 on-base percentage and a 1.538 slugging percentage.

Head coach Tim Walton, in his sixth year, shared his thoughts on the team leader following the MSU sweep.

“She has been doing solid. She is one of those hitters where solid isn’t good enough for her,” Walton said. “She really has worked hard the last couple days taking some extra swings and trying to refine things she is already doing well.”

In the circle, the Gators have baffled opponents with the duo of senior Stephanie Brombacher (14-0) and freshman Hannah Rodgers (16-1). The two have combined for an ERA of 0.55.

However, Brombacher has not appeared in a game since March 12 against Ball State in Clearwater due to arm pain.

But Bruder sees the freshman stepping up while Brombacher nurses her injury.

“Hannah is amazing,” Bruder said. “She is pitching well beyond her years, and we are lucky to have her. She is a great player.”

Bruder recognizes pitching against the volatile Gator offense is a tough task for any pitcher. The Gators have a team batting average of .642 and slugging percentage of .645.

“I think all the way through we all have great swings,” she said. “That is really hard for a pitcher on an opposing team. You really don’t get to take a pitch off for anybody. Having that quality one-through-nine is tremendous.”

Meanwhile, the Georgia Bulldogs, who had been ranked No. 1 for the last four weeks, were swept over the weekend by new No. 1 Alabama. After the sweep, the Bulldogs fell to third in the national rankings.

Offensively, Georgia is led by senior infielder Megan Wiggins. Wiggins has a .442 batting average, six home runs, a team-leading 31 runs batted in and a .791 slugging percentage. Freshman Morgan Montemayor has started 13 of 15 games for the Bulldogs and has a 10-2 record with a 2.23 ERA.

The Gators and Bulldogs will play at the Univ. of Fla. Katie Seashole Pressley stadium. Game one starts at 5 p.m. Friday. Game two on Saturday is at 4:30 p.m. The series concludes Sunday at 6 p.m.

Gator Country reporter Adam Pincus can be reached at You can also follow him on Twitter at adamDpincus.