The No.1 ranked Florida Gator softball team is the heavy favorite heading into the SEC Tournament.
Their path to the championship game begins today with Ole Miss. Last time these two teams played each other the Gators swept the Rebels in a three game series without allowing a single run.
Yes, you read that correctly. Ole Miss only recorded seven hits over the entire series and didn’t score once on a Gator pitcher.
Florida’s pitching has been absolutely dominant this season. The Gator pitching core is led by Sophomore Kelly Barnhill who leads the nation impressively with an ERA of 0.33. Barnhill has also been named a top 10 finalist for the USA Softball Player of the Year and received SEC Pitcher of the Year honors.
— Gators Softball (@GatorsSB) May 9, 2017
The Gator roster is deep with several options available to Head Coach Tim Walton.
Senior pitcher Delanie Gourley is also another corner-piece of this team and provides the leadership needed to make deep runs in tournaments. Junior Aleshia Ocasio has shown impressive numbers as well this season with an 8-1 record. Ocasio’s only loss has come against Tennessee.
Coach Walton’s team has been the top seed in the SEC Tournament for the past three years and Florida has won three-straight regular season SEC titles.
Win or Go Home
There is always added pressure during tournaments on every team to perform at a high level, but for the University of Florida this is a chance to get extra reps as a one-seed before going into NCAA post-season play. The Gators’ regional tournament is just around the corner and boasting the top ranked spot in the country means every team will play their best against them. These “win or go home” style games could give their team added experience which will pay dividends further down the line.
Tough SEC Opponents
The Gators road to the championship starts out with No. 18 Ole Miss. If Florida prevails then they will play either No. 16 Alabama or No. 11 Texas A&M in the Semi-Finals. The bottom half of the bracket isn’t any easier with both No. 7 Tennessee and No. 8 Auburn down there. One of those two teams are likely going to end up in the SEC Championship game. Nine of the twelve teams competing in the SEC Tournament are ranked in the top 25.
Where to Watch
Florida vs. Ole Miss will be live on the SEC Network at 2:30. The semi-finals will take place on ESPNU, and the SEC Championship game will be on ESPN. Here is the bracket with broadcast information.