At the beginning of the week, it looked like the Alabama and Florida softball series would be THE series of the year. And then something weird happened. On Wednesday evening, the Gators had a midweek home game with No. 23 UCF. And lost. They didn’t just lose. They got destroyed 7-0. While UF did not have their top two pitchers participating, their third pitcher, Katie Chronister, could not record a single out before being lifted and her team down 4-0. Three singles were the sum total of the Gators’ offense for the entire game. In football, they call this a “trap game”.
Meanwhile, Alabama run-ruled Alabama State 11-3 on the same night.
The Gators (30-5) started the season 15-0 before falling at No. 9 FSU. The other defeats were at home to No. 12 Kentucky, at UCF (again), and at No. 20 UGA. Florida has revenged all their losses, except UCF. They beat UK and UGA twice each, and topped the Seminoles once. They also swept three from LSU.
Additionally, UF lost an exhibition game to the Canadian Olympic team last Saturday by the score of 5-2. And, yes, they were trying to win. They did not play scrubs.
With two recent losses on their minds, Natty Light-swilling hothead Tim Walton now brings his ego-bruised Gators to Tuscaloosa for a three game set. Will the setbacks motivate or demotivate?
The two teams are neck and neck in the rankings. Alabama is ranked 3/7/3/3 and Florida is 5/3/4/4.
Bama pitcher Montana Fouts was named SEC Pitcher of the Week.
The Gators lean heavily on Elizabeth Hightower who has thrown 100.0 innings over 23 appearances. She is 14-2 with a 1.40 ERA and 5-1 in SEC play (46 innings). Senior Natalie Lugo is 9-1 overall with a 1.41 ERA over 69.2 innings. She has fared slightly better in conference play, yielding only 3 earned runs over 24.2 innings. This pair has given up 12 home runs, 24 doubles, and hit 13 batters, but still have a collective ERA of 1.41. Lugo has 23 walks and 57 Ks which is not a great ratio (2.5). Hightower is a little better at 24 and 81 (3.4). In short, their on-base against is not great but they tend to leave those opposing runners on base.
Walton is a bit impatient with his pitchers and is apt to use Hightower or Lugo as a reliever even if they had just pitched in the previous game.
Hannah Adams is the big story here. She is hitting .431 with 47 hits and only 8 strikeouts. She has six doubles, five home runs, and 28 RBI. Charla Echols is second on the team in batting average at .374 but leads many other offensive categories. She is the only Gator in double digits in home runs with 10 and is tops in RBI with 39. Cheyenne Lindsey (.356, 10 dbls, 2 HR, 25 RBI, 11 stolen bases) and Kendyl Lindaman (.337, 5 HR, 22 RBI) are solid but there is some dropoff after them.
Defense is one category in which the Gators thrive. They have only 17 errors and a fielding percentage of .983 (fifth best in the nation).
Do you like strikeouts? What about charts? Well, you are in luck. Here is a chart about strikeouts.
The Crimson Tide by far leads SEC pitching in strikeouts-to-walks ratio. They also have the most victims via the K. Montana Fouts alone has a 6.4 SO/BB ratio. Lexi Kilfoyl is an even 5.0.
The Crimson Tide finally had a midweek game that was not rained out. The win over Alabama State gave several reserve players an opportunity to play. Freshman KJ Haney smacked a three-run homer and Kat Grill went 2 for 2 with two runs and an RBI. Bama amassed 17 hits with Alexis Mack, Elissa Brown, and Kaylee Tow collecting two hits each.
Patrick Murphy went with 1) Mack and 2) Brown in the batting order. We’ll see if that carries over to the weekend but probably not.
It will be interesting to see if that Wednesday game gets the Tide engines running as they head into this clash of titans.
- Friday, April 16, vs. Florida 6 p.m. CT - SECN+
- Saturday, April 17, vs. Florida 1 p.m. CT - ESPN2
- Sunday, April 18, vs. Florida 1 p.m. CT - SECN