For the first time all season, the Florida Gator softball team will take the field inside Katie Seashold Pressly Stadium as it hosts the Dolphins of Jacksonville University Wednesday night.
The Gators will be entering the contest with an undefeated record of 11-0 and a new number one ranking according to both USA Today and ESPN.com polls. This past weekend the Gators made quick work of every team they faced in a tournament in Las Vegas , finishing 5-0. The Gators offense was on display as they hit 12 home runs and finished the weekend outscoring their opponents 59-6.
Currently the Gators have eight players boasting a batting average over .300 and a team slugging percentage at .604. One player in particular leading this team is junior Lauren Haeger. Haeger has really taken charge for the Gators starting with her no-hit performance on the mound two weeks ago in Tampa against the Wisconsin Badgers. She then followed that up this past weekend hitting four home runs, accounting for nine RBI’s through five games.
In back to back weeks Haeger was named the SEC Player of the Week and the SEC Pitcher of the Week. The junior dual threat currently sits at 3-0 on the season with an ERA of just 1.05. It is those stats alone that show what kind of pitching rotation the Gators boast. Haeger is the third pitcher on a staff showcasing senior Hannah Rodgers and freshman Delanie Gourley who both sit at 4-0 on the year.
The Gators have a combined ERA of 1.68 and with an array of arms at his disposal, Gator head coach Tim Walton knows his staff will only get better.
“I really like what Lauren has given us so far, and Hannah and Delanie have been solid, but neither have really been great yet,” he said.
The Dolphins of JU are currently 5-4 on the season, fresh off a 1-0 victory over the North Carolina Tar Heels at home. These teams met just once a year ago with the Gators prevailing 11-3 on the road in Jacksonville. The Dolphins have been led this season by senior Codi Kelly who is batting .393 and sophomore Victoria Brown who is batting .333. It will take a huge night from the entire Dolphins staff to upset the number one team in the country but Walton knows his team cannot overlook this matchup.
“The Dolphins are pretty scrappy, they run a little bit and they are very athletic. I really liked Jacksonville’s club last year and most of those kids returned,” he said.
This will be the first home game for the Gators and Walton talked about the emotions this game can bring.
“It’s a new set of nerves, when you open up at home there’s different anxiety and different people in the stands watching you perform but we’re very excited and much anticipated to get here in front of our crowd.”
First pitch between the Gators and Dolphins Wednesday night will be at 6:05pm. To hear more from Gators head coach Tim Walton click on the links below.