Florida softball enters the final weekend of the regular season ranked 16th nationally and clinging to the hopes of hosting the Regional round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Gators are on the road to take on Kentucky in a three-game series that Florida must win if it wants to stay in the conversation as a tournament host by the end of the month.
Florida Softball: One last series
The Gators (37-14, 10-11 SEC) last met the Wildcats (28-18-1, 8-13 SEC) in 2021, winning the series 2-1 in Gainesville. Florida is coming off an 8-7 loss to No. 3 Florida State, while Kentucky is recovering from a series sweep by Mississippi State.
Skylar Wallace is the only player in the nation with 60+ runs scored, 55+ hits, and 50+ RBI as of May 2. Charla Echols ranks fifth nationally and first in the SEC in total RBI with 59.
Florida’s offense has a .327 batting average this season, ranking second in program history. Wallace, batting .461, is on track to break several single-season records.
But the problem for Florida all season hasn’t been hitting, it’s been pitching. Kayla Kowalik will be Kentucky’s biggest threat, hitting .452 this season with an OPS of 1.077.
Erin Coffel has appeared in 47 games but is only credited with 109 at-bats, making her ineligible for batting rankings. However, she averages .440 with 17 home runs and an OPS of 1.628.
The Wildcats also have a pitcher capable of slowing down Florida with Stephanie Schoonover expected to get the most innings this weekend for Kentucky. She has an ERA of 1.84 and a 12-1 record on the season.
Kentucky is beatable, having gone 7-11 since April began. In addition to the Mississippi State sweep, they were also swept by Tennessee and dropped their series against Arkansas and Georgia.
And if Florida softball at all wants to be taken seriously come NCAA tournament time, then they too will add to Kentucky’s late-season slide and handle business this weekend.