Brady Singer during the Gators' game against the Siena Saints on Friday, February 16, 2018 at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville, Fla. / UAA Communications photo by Allison Curry

Preview: No. 1 Florida Hosts Missouri for SEC Weekend Matchup

The Florida Gators (29-6, 9-3) welcome the Missouri Tigers (24-9, 6-6) to McKethan Stadium this weekend in search of another SEC series victory. Florida has won its first four SEC series for the first time since 1994 and is looking to add to its history of success against Missouri at home. The Gators are 10-1 in Gainesville and 17-4 all-time against the Tigers. Missouri has not won a game at UF since it’s joined the SEC.

Scouting the Tigers

Missouri is led by head coach Steve Bieser, who is 60-32 during his two seasons with the team. This year the Tigers have been propelled by success on the mound and in the field. They’re one of 17 teams in the country that can say they have a better team ERA than the Gators. The Tigers staff has a combined ERA of 2.86 which ranks 11th nationally. Their fielding percentage in 2018 is .983 which ranks sixth nationally.

Missouri enters this weekend’s series having won five of its last seven games. Offensively, they’re led by sophomore Kameron Misner and senior Trey Harris. Misner is hitting a team-high .356 and Harris has a team-high 33 RBIs. The Tigers also run well ranking 33rd nationally with 49 stolen bases this season.

Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan thinks Bieser and the rest of the Missouri staff have done a good job of relying on their strengths.

Probable Pitching Matchups

Game 1: RHP Brady Singer (7-1, 3.00 ERA) vs. LHP T.J. Sikkema (2-2, 2.90 ERA)

Game 2: RHP Jackson Kowar (5-1, 2.72 ERA) vs. LHP Michael Plassmeyer (4-0, 1.99 ERA)

Game 3: RHP Tyler Dyson (4-2, 3.48 ERA) vs. RHP Bryce Montes De Oca (4-2, 2.64 ERA)

Florida’s weekend rotation has been solid this season, but it’s freshman Jordan Butler who has been the Gators hottest pitcher in recent days. He hasn’t allowed a run in his last 10.1 innings of work and is yet to allow a run in 14.1 innings pitched out of the bullpen.

O’Sullivan says he has no problems throwing a freshman like Butler into the fire if he’s earned the opportunities like he has.

Gators to Keep an Eye On

Jonathan India enters the weekend riding a career-best 20-game hitting streak. The streak is the longest ever by a Gators player under O’Sullivan. He leads the SEC in batting average (.426), on-base percentage (.545) and slugging percentage (.870).

Over the last five games, Austin Langworthy is hitting .476 with five RBIs. He struggled a bit early in the season but said he felt like he was having quality at-bats. In his mind, it was just a matter of time before he got rolling statistically.

Deacon Liput has also found his groove at the plate. He’s currently on a 9-game hitting streak and has a hit in 16 of the last 18 games.

Game Times

Friday’s game is scheduled for 6:30 p.m., Saturday’s game is scheduled for 5 p.m. and Sunday’s game is scheduled for 1 p.m.

About Ryan McGinn

I'm an above-average golfer with surprisingly great touch around the greens. Click on my twitter link for some sports talk.

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