Crushing weaker opponents is easy for Florida Softball, but now a harder test looms

The Gators are in California this weekend with a chance to flip the narrative
Florida shortstop Skylar Wallace (17) and Florida catcher Jocelyn Erickson (8) celebrate Wallace   s
Florida shortstop Skylar Wallace (17) and Florida catcher Jocelyn Erickson (8) celebrate Wallace s / Alan Youngblood/Gainesville Sun / USA

One glance at the offensive stats for Florida Softball would paint a picture that the Gators are an offensive juggernaut in 2024. The Gators lead the country in runs per game, second in on-base percentage, third in batting average, and 14th in home runs per game.

But coming off a weekend where they outscored their opponents 66-1, the Gators are out west to prove whether or not those gaudy statistics can transfer over to Power Five opposition.

Florida Softball: No Mercy

The Gators are 15-2 on the season and are ranked 16th in the country according to Softball America's latest poll.

The two losses for the Gators were against Michigan and Oklahoma State, both solid opponents where there is no shame in losing.

But combined with Oregon State, the only other Power Five opponent the Gators have played this season, there is a clear juxtaposition between Florida's ability to hit weaker opposition and their ability to hit stronger pitching.

Florida is averaging 9.94 runs per game, but against the three previously mentioned teams, they scored a combined two runs total over those three games.

And one could chalk it up to an anomaly that Florida wasn't able to scratch runs across in those games, but this year is following a similar pattern to what we saw last season.

In 2023, the Gators shot out to a 10-0 record, were ranked third in the country, and were averaging 11.2 runs per game to open the season. Then they flew out to California and were dismantled by UCLA and Oregon. They also lost to Cal State Fullerton to end the weekend 1-3, and it set the stage for what the Gators would become.

This brings us to the Judi Garman Classic this weekend, where the Gators will once again face Cal State Fullerton and UCLA, as well as a rematch against Michigan. If the weekend goes south, 2024 will begin to feel like deja vu all over again as the offensive numbers won't matter once SEC play begins next week.

But if Florida can prove it can hit higher-level pitching with any consistency and leave with California 5-0, this squad becomes a legitimate contender to return to Oklahoma City, given how solid their trio of freshmen pitchers have been, even against the upper-level teams.

First pitch against Call State is tonight at 8:30.