Tuesday March 27, 2012Gators Set to Clash With Top-25 Opponents USF & Georgia March 28-April 1
Coming off its fourth-straight SEC series win, the No. 4 Gator softball team will take a break from league action when it plays host to the No. 21/22 USF softball squad in a mid-week non-conference tilt Wednesday before traveling to Athens, Ga., for a three-game weekend clash with SEC Eastern Division rival, No. 10/9 Georgia.
The Orange and Blue (29-2, 10-1 SEC) will play three of the four games on this week’s Top-25 slate on television, as the match-up with USF Wednesday will air live on Fox Sports Florida, with the call by Bernie Guenther and color analysis from former Gator All-American Megan Bush.
Florida will make its 2012 national television debut on ESPNU in the series opener with Georgia Friday, as Beth Mowins, Jennie Finch Daigle and Michele Smith call the action from Athens. Sunday’s series finale with the Bulldogs will air live on Fox Sports South in the Atlanta market and on Fox Sports Florida statewide, with Dave Neal and Cheri Kempf.
First pitch Wednesday against the USF Bulls is set for 6 p.m. from Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium, while the Gators and Bulldogs will meet at 8, 2:30 and 1 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, respectively, at Jack Turner Stadium in Athens. Florida is 4-2 this season against Top-25 opponents, with wins over then-No. 16/14 Texas A&M, No. 8 Texas and two victories over SEC foe, then-No. 9 Tennessee. Back in February, No. 5/7 Washington got the best of UF, 5-2, at the Cathedral City Classic in California, while Tennessee took the series opener in Knoxville, 1-0.
Wednesday’s meeting between UF and USF will serve as the second clash between the two clubs this season, as the Bulls and Gators met earlier this year Feb. 12 in Tampa as part of the USF Fairfield Inn & Suites Tampa North Tournament, a game the Gators won 3-2 in eight innings thanks to a junior Kelsey Horton (Valrico, Fla.) bomb for their first extra-innings victory of the season.
The series at Georgia will be a highly anticipated match-up, as the Gators will be looking to avenge a Dawg sweep in Gainesville last season. For the first time since 2006, UGA swept UF, with UF holding an eight-game win streak between the 2006 and 2011 Georgia sweeps. Last time out in Athens in 2008, Florida took three from Georgia, 5-0, 9-5, 5-2.
The Gators will be looking to ride the momentum from stellar performances throughout the past week by Florida’s lone senior Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.), the reigning USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Week and SEC Player of the Week. Likewise, freshman Lauren Haeger (Peoria, Ariz.) is hot, having reached base in 17-straight games offensively, while also contributing for the UF in the circle. The Orange and Blue will continue to rely on the experience of sophomore ace Hannah Rogers (Lake Wales, Fla.), who earned two wins and a save against the Hogs, as they enter the thick of the 2012 conference slate.
Florida checked in at No. 2 in the first RPI rankings of the season, released Tuesday by the NCAA, while the Gators rank fifth in the nation in team ERA (0.89) and sixth in win-loss percentage (.395). UF also cracks the top 10 in slugging percentage, with its .543 mark, powered by Moultrie’s team-leading .839 thus far in the 2012 campaign.
Individually, Rogers holds a top-10 spot in four different categories, checking in fifth in the NCAA in victories (16) and ERA (0.71), while ranking seventh in the country in both shutouts (7) and saves (3). With her four triples on the year, Moultrie is sixth in the nation, while her 1.29 runs per game place her eighth in this week’s NCAA rankings.
LAST TIME OUT FOR UF
The No. 4 Florida softball team made it five-straight sweeps and 15-consecutive victories over the Razorbacks over the weekend with 6-0, 3-2 and 5-0 victories in Arkansas Friday through Sunday. The Gators improved to 29-2 overall and 10-1 in 2012 league play with the sweep. Florida has now won all four conference series so far this year, winning at Mississippi State, Tennessee and Arkansas, while downing South Carolina at home. Of UF’s four SEC series, the Gators have swept three in MSU, USC and Arkansas. Florida senior Michelle Moultrie carried the Gators through the weekend with career-best performances, going 8-for-11 (.727) with three doubles and two homers, good for a 1.545 slugging percentage and .750 on-base mark. Throughout the three-game set, Florida rallied for six doubles and four home runs, while scoring 14 runs, compared to Arkansas’ two. Not far behind, freshman Lauren Haeger went 7-for-10 in Fayetteville (.700) with a double, her team-leading ninth of the 2012 season, and a homer to complete the series. Haeger additionally picked up the win in the circle for UF in Saturday’s series clincher to improve to 8-1 on the year. Sophomore Hannah Rogers picked up two wins and a save in the circle on the weekend, registering a 0.00 ERA and holding opponents to .140 at the plate, as UF tallied its 16th and 17th shutouts of the season lifting Rogers to 16-1 as UF’s ace.
SCOUTING USF 29-5, 3-0 Big East
UF leads, 33-11: 15-6 at home, 16-3 in Tampa, 2-2 on neutral ground
*Notably, Florida has won 12-straight meetings with the Bulls*
Last Time Out:
February 12, 2012; UF 3, USF 2 (eight innings)
The Bulls are off to the best start in the program's history and ride a nine-game winning streak into Gainesville after sweeping their first Big East series against Rutgers this past weekend. USF outscored Rutgers, 21-0, in three games. USF ranks third in the country with a 0.84 ERA with sophomore left-hander Sara Nevins has the top ERA in the nation at 0.55 in 127 2/3 innings. Nevins (16-2) is the Big East pitcher of the week for the third straight time after posting three wins and allowing just one earned run in 19 2/3 innings last week. Gina Kafalas leads USF at the plate so far this season with a .352 batting clip, thanks to 37 hits. Kafalas is additionally a threat on the base paths with 10 bags swiped. Kenshyra Jackson and Kourtney Salvarola each have eight doubles, as Jackson has hammered out 26 RBI, while Stephanie Medina paces the Bulls with six long balls. In addition to Nevins in the circle, hurler Sam Greiner owns a 1.19 ERA, a 7-3 record in 21 appearances with 48 strikeouts, while Lindsey Richardson is unscathed at 6-0 in the circle with 51 strikeouts in 39.2 innings pitched this season.
SCOUTING THE BULLDOGS 27-5, 7-2 SEC
UF leads, 28-20: 13-12 at home, 13-6 in Athens, 2-2 on neutral ground
*Georgia will play host to Georgia Southern March 28 before the Gators come to town*
Last Time Out:
March 25, 2011: UGA 10, UF 7
March 26, 2011: UGA 13, UF 5
March 27, 2011: UGA 5, UF 1
After moving its season mark to 27-5 and its conference record to 7-2, the University of Georgia softball team ranked No. 9 in the USA Today/National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) and No. 10 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball polls released Tuesday. Georgia went a perfect 4-0 last week, including a series sweep at Ole Miss. The Bulldogs’ bats came alive for the week, as Georgia posted 35 hits in the four games compared to opponents’ 14 while outscoring the competition 31-4. Freshman Paige Wilson led the team with a .500 batting average after posting six hits on her way to being named SEC Freshman of the Week for the second time this season. Junior Tess Sito and senior Ashley Razey had five hits apiece, including Sito notching a triple and Razey belting three home runs against Ole Miss. Sito, Razey, Kristyn Sandberg and Ashley Pauly all scored four runs each for the week. Senior Erin Arevalo made a big impact for the Bulldogs in the circle, as she grabbed three of Georgia’s four wins. After a one-hit shutout against Georgia State on Wednesday, the California native whipped out five perfect innings in game one at Ole Miss. Arevalo then came back out on Sunday to hold the Rebels scoreless in her 11th complete game of the season.
For all game notes, stats and recaps, be sure to visit www.GatorZone.com/softball following every game this season. Gator fans can follow Florida’s competition this year through online stats, on GatorVision.tv and live locally and online on the radio at WYGC-104.9, 105 The Game, with the call by play-by-play announcer Adam Schick and color analyst Megan Bush.
Links for all live action are available at GatorZone.com. For in-game updates on all the action, follow the Gators on Twitter @GatorZoneSBall and check UF’s official softball Facebook page HERE for updates on competition.