After two different road tournaments, Florida will finally be hosting one of its own.
The No. 3 Florida Gators are back in town for the Bubly Invitationals set to be played this weekend.
They will take on three different teams at two games apiece: Illinois State, Syracuse and Florida A&M. This is Florida’s last time in Gainesville until they open SEC play against Tennessee on March 8.
Amanda Lorenz on being back home from Arizona:
Florida is 2-0 against the Redbirds this season. Their first meeting ended in 15-0 mercy-rule in the season opener, the second went the full seven innings ending 2-1 at the Littlewood Classic in Arizona.
UF is hitting .377 against Redbirds pitching this season. Meanwhile, Gator pitching has allowed only two total hits in 12 combined innings.
Kelly Barnhill and Natalie Lugo have 17 combined strikeouts in four total outings against Illinois State. Barnhill went three in mercy-rule win and closed out the 2-1 win. Lugo pitched an inning in the first game and went six strong in the second.
Tim Walton on facing Illinois State in the Littlewood Classic:
The Orange rank near the basement in the ACC at 2-6 in their first year under Head Coach Shannon Doepking.
They sit near the bottom quarter in most major statistics. They sit fourth in team batting average at .275.
While having the fourth-worst team ERA in the ACC at 4.42 pitcher Sophie Dandola is among the conference’s top pitchers in that regard with 2.17.
Florida has won all three meetings between the two schools. The last win was 2-0 in Kissimmee for the 2017 Diamond 9 Citrus Classic
The FAMU Rattlers come in winless at 0-6 on the season under long-time head coach Veronica Wiggins. FAMU sits in the middle of the pack at six in terms of batting average and fourth in terms of runs scored.
Senior outfielder Shakayla Nixon paces the team in average at .313. That ranks her at no. 10 in the MEAC in that category. Her fellow senior Tyra Bowers isn’t far behind her at .300. Bowers is also active on the basepaths with two stolen bases already in just six games.
Florida starts the tournament on Friday with a 5 p.m. game against Illinois State followed by a matchup with FAMU.