Florida shortstop Skylar Wallace (17) and Florida catcher Jocelyn Erickson (8) celebrate Wallace’s game winning three run home run during an NCAA softball game against Georgia Southern at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium on Feb.16, 2024. [Alan Youngblood/Gainesville Sun]

Gators Softball Hosts Kentucky for Three-Game Series

The 10th ranked Florida softball team has an important test waiting for them this coming weekend.  The test is arriving in Gainesville on Friday, in the form of the 23rd ranked Kentucky Wildcats.

With the Gators (26-4) and Wildcats (20-8) set to face off in a three-game weekend series, valuable SEC wins are at stake.  Here’s what to look out for when these two teams take the field at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.

Plenty of Offensive Fireworks

Florida ranks fourth in the nation in batting average, with an impressive .376. Leading the way is star shortstop Skylar Wallace, who is averaging an eye-popping .487 this season.

Kentucky ranks 33rd in that statistic, with a team average of .319, but more than makes up for it in the home run department.  While Florida ranks 12th in the nation in home runs per game at 1.40, Kentucky ranks 8th, hitting 1.54 homers per game.

Their leading home-run hitters are shortstop Erin Coffel with 10, infielder Grace Lorsung with eight and utility player Karissa Hamilton with six.

That is certainly something the Gators pitchers will have to keep in mind when facing the Wildcats.

Gators’ Pitching Supremacy

Florida ranks third in the nation in earned run average (ERA) at just 1.17 runs per nine innings played. Starting pitchers Keagan Rothrock and Ava Brown have been simply sensational this season.

Rothrock sports a win-loss record of 12-3 with a slim 0.99 ERA, while Brown is 11-1 with a 1.24 ERA.

The two have been workhorses for Florida this season, starting 27 of the team’s 30 games.  If the Wildcats want to score runs, they’ll have to get through that dominant pitching, which looks like no easy task.

Experience Paying Off for Both Teams

Both the Gators and Wildcats have a wealth of veteran presence on their teams.  Each team has a majority of upperclassmen leading the lines, and that plays a big role in their winning ways.  Also large in experience are the team’s coaches, who have each enjoyed long periods of success at the helm.

For Kentucky, head coach Rachel Lawson has led the Wildcats for 16 years.  She helped them reach their first-ever College World Series in 2014, and is the only coach in program history with over 400 victories.

For Florida, Tim Walton leads to Gators for his 19th year.  He helped the Gators win back-to-back national titles in 2014 and 2015 and has won SEC Coach of the Year five times.

Both teams will need to tap into that experience if they want to win this series.

Game Time

On Friday, first pitch between Florida and Kentucky is at 6. On Saturday, game time is still to be announced, and on Sunday, first pitch will be at 12.


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