FGCU infielder Maria Angelino can’t lay the tag in time on North Florida catcher Kirsten Caravaca at second base during the second inning of an NCAA softball ASUN Conference matchup April 14 at UNF Softball Complex in Jacksonville. FGCU defeated UNF 4-3. [Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union]

FGCU Prepares For Gators To Open NCAA Gainesville Regional

The Florida Gators softball team is hosting the NCAA Gainesville Regional Tournament for the 18th time and enters as the national No. 4 seed.

The Gators’ (46-12) first matchup is noon Friday against Florida Gulf Coast (37-19) at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium. The game will air on the SEC Network.

Florida faced the Eagles in March for the 10th time in program history, shutting them out 9-0 in five innings. This win marks the fourth time in program history that the Gators have had 21 run-rule wins in a season. Skylar Wallace hit the first grand slam of her career and the first for the Gators on the season to rout the Eagles.

FGCU coach David Deiros reflects on the March 20 game in Fort Myers:

The Eagles are on a five-game win streak. In the ASUN Tournament, they beat Eastern Kentucky and North Florida, ranked No.1 and No.2, respectively, in the conference. This earned them the ASUN championship and a spot in the regional tournament. Deiros attributes his team’s success to pitching and defensive play, and notes improvement in their offense.

He pinpointed two players who have surprised him this season, especially on offense: Riley Oakes, who was named in the All-ASUN tournament team and Neely Peterson, who he called the “hero from the championship game,” and was named MVP of the ASUN Tournament. Their improvement over the course of the season will prove crucial to this matchup against the Gators.

Florida Gulf Coast enters the NCAA Regionals unranked. The Gators have won eight of 10 games against the Eagles, who will have to make some improvement offensively in order to have a chance this time around, Deiros said.

A win would put the Gators in the winner’s bracket game Saturday against the South Alabama-Florida Atlantic winner.

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