Coming off a 3-0 win over UCF, Florida softball is back at it this weekend with five games as part of the Bubly Invitational the Gators are hosting.
It will allow Florida to test itself against a couple of quality opponents before starting SEC play next weekend.
Florida Softball: Lots of softball to be played
Florida’s weekend will consist of two games against Mercer, two games against Louisiana, and one game against Rutgers.
There isn’t much to say about Mercer. The Bears are 6-14 and have been mercy ruled by Hampton, Stetson, South Carolina, Jacksonville, Northern Iowa, and Clemson.
The Tigers beat them 18-0 on Wednesday, so these two meetings should be opportunities to stat pad and get some bats for some depth players.
Rutgers should provide a bit more of a challenge as the Scarlet Knights, while not ranked, are 16-4 on the season. They have wins over Syracuse and Texas Tech and are led by Kyleigh Sand batting .552.
Sand is 5th in the country in batting average and is supported by Ryann Orange batting .418. Depending on how the weekend plays out, given it will be the 5th game of the weekend for both teams, will dictate if Raimy Gamsby takes the hill for Rutgers. She is currently sporting an ERA of 0.99, one of only 37 pitchers nationally that can claim an ERA under one.
Louisiana should also provide a feisty test to Florida softball. The Rajin Cajuns come into Gainesville ranked 24th in the country with a record of 14-8. They have a win over LSU and Ole Miss and lost by just one run against Arkansas, UCLA, and Michigan.
Louisiana also mercy-ruled UCF, a squad that Florida had to battle against to put away.
They are led by Karly Heath batting .377 with an OPS of 1.121. Heath has been on base 23 times this season and come around to score 17 times. She is supported by Sophie Piskos batting .320 and Maddie Hayden hitting .318.
Part of what makes Louisiana interesting is the lack of a .400 hitter, and yet they are still top 50 in the country in team batting average at .307.
Likewise, their pitching is fine but far from elite. Florida will probably see both Meghan Schorman, with a 2.51 ERA, and Sam Landry, with a 3.11 ERA.
The biggest concern for Florida softball this weekend will be its pitching depth to navigate five games. One would assume Tim Walton saves Elizabeth Hightower for one of the Louisiana games and has Lexie Delbrey for either the other Louisiana game or Rutgers. Delbrey is coming off a six-inning shutout against UAB and a seven-inning shutout against UCF. She has yet to allow a run in 19 innings of work.
Rylee Trlicek probably gets a start in one of the Mercer games as she looks to rebound from a disappointing outing in California.
Overall, a 5-0 weekend won’t be automatic for Florida. But, if Florida wants to assert itself as a legitimate contender to make Oklahoma City and want to be in the running to host Super Regionals, it may need a 5-0 weekend.