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UF softball faces in-state rival for second season match up

The Gator softball team heads into a week of non-conference play, starting with a trip to Tallahassee in hopes of taking down their rival FSU for the second time this season. The match up back in March ended with a 7-3 rout by Florida, thanks to sophomore Briana Little’s walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the eighth in front of a record crowd at Seashole Stadium. This time around, the Gators are ranked third in the country while leading the SEC, and they’ve improved their record to 41-5 after topping Kentucky in two of the weekend’s three game series last weekend.

It was an overall successful week for the Gators, with freshman Kelsey Stewart receiving her second SEC Player of the Week award after leading the team with a .563 average. Florida’s three-hurler pitching staff each picked up victories last week – sophomore Lauren Haeger vs. USF, junior Hannah Rogers in the opening game against Kentucky, and sophomore Alyssa Baache in the final game of the Wildcat series on Sunday. Freshman Taylor Schwarz drove in three runs after going 3-for-3 at the plate with a single, triple and homer for the best game of her career in Sunday’s series clincher over the Cats.

Since the loss to Florida in March, the Seminoles have gone 8-3, including ACC series wins over Maryland, Boston College and Virginia. Senior Morgan Bullock leads FSU at the plate with a .366 clip, six doubles, four triples and 19 RBI while sophomore Lacey Waldrop leads the pitching staff with a 1.58 ERA and 189 strikeouts through 151.0 innings. The Noles are now 24-14, 13-2 in conference play.

First pitch of the Sunshine Showdown is set for 6 p.m. at JoAnne Graf Field.

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Feb 6, 2016; Lexington, KY, USA; Florida Gators guard Chris Chiozza (11) and Kentucky Wildcats guard Tyler Ulis (3) reach for a loose ball in the first half at Rupp Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

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