The Florida Gators softball team (25-3) heads to Athens this weekend for a three-game series against the No. 20 Georgia Bulldogs (22-5). The Gators held at No. 5 in the country after sweeping No. 13 LSU in Gainesville. The Bulldogs, on the other hand, dropped three spots from No. 17 after losing a series against Ole Miss in Oxford.
The series between the Gators and Dawgs is one of four ranked series in the SEC this weekend. Game one will kick off on Saturday at 8 p.m. on ESPN. Game two will be Sunday at 3 p.m., and game three will be Monday at 7 p.m., with both of those airing on SEC Network.
Gators’ Recent Action
In their last SEC action, the Gators shut down a top-15 LSU Tigers team that had hung with some of the best teams in the country. The weekend sweep of the Tigers was Florida’s first since 2016 in Baton Rouge.
More recently, though, the Gators took care of business against Jacksonville, picking up a 5-1 road victory. Hannah Adams extended her hit streak to 13 games in the win, which is tied for seventh all-time in program history.
T2 | Adams singles back to the pitcher and that'll extend her hit streak out to 13 games! Bases are loaded.
Gators 1 | Dolphins 0 pic.twitter.com/JybSs5TljR
— Gators Softball (@GatorsSB) March 31, 2021
She didn’t stop there, though, as she ended the game 3-for-3 with a home run, as well.
The Gators drew a season-high 10 walks in the victory, and their pitching got the job done, limiting the Dolphins to one run on four hits. Florida’s pitching staff has proven to be one of the best in the conference since the start of SEC play.
Head coach Tim Walton’s rotation has held opponents to four or fewer runs in 11 of their last 12 games, and the Gators have only lost one of those 11 games. The Gators lead the SEC with a team ERA of 1.38, and they rank fifth in the country in that statistic for teams that have pitched more than 150.0 innings.
Pitching is one of the Bulldogs’ strengths as well, though, so look for this series to be a battle of who can blink first.
How About Them Dawgs?
While the Gators rank first in the SEC in team ERA, the Bulldogs aren’t far behind. They boast a 1.40 earned run average, good for second in the conference.
Mary Wilson Avant leads the charge for the Dawgs, boasting an 11-2 record in the circle and a 1.34 ERA. Her 117 strikeouts rank 14th in the country, and the graduate senior is averaging 9.8 strikeouts per seven innings.
Georgia’s other two pitchers also carry an ERA under 1.50 into this series. Senior Lauren Mathis sits at 1.20, and freshman Madison Kerpics boasts a 1.34.
Bulldogs’ sluggers Lacey Fincher and Sydney Kuma pack a fierce one-two punch in the second and third spots in the lineup. Fincher leads the Dawgs with a .433 average, 10 home runs and 25 RBIs. Additionally, Kuma leads the squad with 25 runs and the two are tied for the team lead in hits with 29.
Georgia was riding a 16-game winning streak into the start of SEC play, but they’ve struggled against conference opponents so far, losing three of their first six SEC games.