Gators
The Gators softball team does the Gator chomp before its game against the University of Illinois Chicago on Sunday, February 25, 2024. Photo courtesy of Kitty Stoll.

Gators Softball Opens SEC Slate at 10th-ranked Alabama

The No. 10 Alabama Crimson Tide softball team (19-1) will play host to the No. 13 Florida Gators (19-3) in a three-game series beginning Saturday. After both teams had solid starts to their season during non-conference schedules, it’ll be a pivotal series for both squads to avoid starting with a losing record in the SEC.

The Crimson Tide are no stranger to knocking off ranked opponents this season. Alabama went 3-1 at last weekend’s T-Mobile Crimson Classic in Tuscaloosa. Two of its victories coming over then-No. 19 Arizona. Alabama’s pitching has been remarkable en route to recording eight shutouts on the year. They complement the starting rotation and bullpen with an aggressive offense that has scored first in 17 of the team’s 19 games.

Tide’s Talented Squad

The Crimson Tide return 15 letterwinners from last year’s team that made a run to the Women’s College World Series. The 2024 roster is star-studded, including sophomore outfielder and 2023 All-SEC honoree Larissa Preuitt. Freshman outfielder Lauren Johnson and sophomore infielder Abby Duchsherer are off to impressive starts to their seasons. The duo leads the way for a talented Tide lineup, and both are posting batting averages of .400 or better.

The Florida offense will have its hands full as they square off against an Alabama team that has the lowest combined ERA in the entire nation. Bama has only allowed 19 runs on the season and no more than three runs in a single game. Three pitchers for the Crimson Tide have an ERA under 1.00 on the season. Sophomore pitcher Alea Johnson leads the talented position group with an astounding 0.28 ERA in 10 appearances and three starts.

Florida’s Firepower

Similar to Alabama, the Gators have shown instances of explosive offense. UF has the third-highest team batting average in the country at .391 and rank second in the nation in on base percentage. The Gators will need to have continued success in these areas in the series if they wish to steal a road series in Tuscaloosa.

Leading the offensive surge for Florida is junior outfielder Kendra Falby with a .480 batting average. Though, the power hitters in the lineup are what the Bama pitchers will need to be careful of. Senior shortstop Skylar Wallace and sophomore catcher Jocelyn Erickson have combined for 10 home runs and 61 RBI.

First pitch for Game 1 of the matchup between Florida and Alabama will be Saturday at 3 p.m. in Tuscaloosa.

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