PHOTO CREDIT: Kelly Chase/UAA Communications

Gator Softball Goes Out West To Play UCLA, Play In Tournament

The Florida Gator softball team is out in the Golden State to tame the Wild West. The third-ranked Gators face off against the second ranked UCLA Bruins to begin their annual road trip out west.

This match up marks a rematch of the 2018 showdown between these two squads in Oklahoma City during the Women’s College World Series. The Bruins came out on top 6-5 in that game. It will also be Florida’s 19th game in 19 days.

Looking in a Mirror

Florida might be picking on someone its own size on Wednesday night. Like Florida, the Bruins enter the game undefeated (14-0) and both teams are among the top in their conferences for multiple major statistics.

Let’s start with pitching. UF leads the SEC in earned run average at 0.97 while UCLA paces the PAC-12 with 1.11. Those numbers even land these teams inside the top 10 nationally for ERA.

The Bruins average over 10 strikeouts per seven innings and Florida sits at over nine. These teams rank in the country’s top 10 in strikeout to walk ratio with 7.71 (UCLA) and 6.70 (UF).

UCLA hits better than Florida in terms of average with .370 to .347 but the Gators have the edge in on-base percentage at .469 to .428.

Kelly Inouye-Perez’s squad boasts an impressive slugging percentage at .579 while Tim Walton’s Gators trail at .545. Florida’s 21 home runs outpaces UCLA’s 15. Amanda Lorenz currently leads the team with six home runs, including four from the lead off spot.

What to Watch For

More than likely an outstanding pitchers’ duel. The Bruins boast a three-headed monster with their pitching rotation.

UCLA pitchers:

  • Rachel Garcia: 6-0, 0.71 ERA, 39.2 IP, 68 Ks and .139 batting average against through seven appearances (five starts)
  • Megan Faraimo: 4-0 (two no-hitters), 0.83 ERA, 25.1 IP, 40 Ks and .121 BAA through six apps. (five starts)
  • Holly Azevedo: 4-0, 2.13 ERA, 23 IP, 23 Ks and .150 BAA through five apps. (four starts)

Gators fans know how good Kelly Barnhill is and so does the SEC. She received her third consecutive SEC Pitcher of the Week Award this week. She threw over 15 scoreless innings and struck out 22 during the Bubly Invitational.

If she isn’t spotted in-circle for Florida then it could be California native Natalie Lugo. The Gators’ number two has a sub-one ERA at 0.91 and 51 punch outs through 38.2 innings.

Also, look to see how Lorenz handles herself at the plate. She is tied for the team lead with 11 walks and holds the all-time career walks mark at 187.

After facing UCLA at 9 pm Wednesday, the Gators will start the Judi Garman Classic on Thursday with games against New Mexico and Oregon.

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