Preview: Alabama Softball Travels to #1 Florida [Audio]
Similar to the football series in the 1990s and late 2000s, the Alabama-Florida series on the softball diamond is among the most hotly contested series in college softball.
Alabama holds a 33-30 lead in the all-time series. The two teams have won three of the last four national championships, met in the WCWS championship round in 2014 and split the last 8 SEC regular season titles.
Like Alabama head coach Patrick Murphy, Florida head coach Tim Walton has built a juggernaut down in Gainesville. In his 11 seasons as the Florida head coach, Walton has compiled a 585-112 record at Florida going into this weekend.
The Gators have been at the top of college softball winning the last two national championships and have been at the top of the national rankings every week this season. Florida is off to a program best 33-1 start with their only loss coming on a walk-off single to Auburn in the opening weekend of SEC play.
While the Gators score over six runs per game, their pitching and defense has overwhelmed opponents throughout the season. Florida has allowed a total of 30 runs, allowed 3 stolen bases and committed 14 errors in 34 games this season. In their 34 games, they have shutout 19 opponents while winning via the mercy rule 13 times.
With a stiff test coming up, Patrick Murphy gave his thoughts on the weekend during his appearance on the Gary Harris Show. Murphy believes that last weekend’s series win against #15 Missouri was a good confidence builder going into this weekend.
He credited Sydney Littlejohn for carrying the team from the circle against Missouri and stressed the importance of having a quality pitching staff in the SEC.
“You need to have a staff, especially this year in this league (the SEC). She (Sydney Littlejohn) kind of picked up the pieces and put everybody on her back and said, ‘Ok, let’s do this’.” Murphy said.
Patrick Murphy stated that the key to winning at Florida would be to take advantage of run scoring opportunities.
“If we get people at second or third, we can’t stand six or seven (runners on base). We’ve got to score them.” Murphy said.
Florida and Alabama begin the series Friday with first pitch at 5 PM. ESPN2 will televise Saturday’s contest at 2:30 PM while Sunday’s series finale gets underway at Noon.
College Softball Notes Around Alabama:
-Jacksonville State puts an 8-game winning streak on the line and begins an 8-game road trip Saturday with a double header Saturday against Tennessee State.
-UAB defeated Mississippi State 3-2 Tuesday for their first win over an SEC team this season. The Blazers resume Conference USA play Saturday at home against Marshall.
-After falling 5-4 to Ole Miss Tuesday, Samford hosts their first conference home series against two-time defending SoCon Tournament champion Chattanooga. The Bulldogs lead the SoCon standings with a 3-0 mark while Chattanooga is a game behind at 2-1 in the conference standings.
-South Alabama had their 8-game winning streak snapped Wednesday by McNeese State 2-1 in 8 innings. The Jaguars host Georgia State for three games this weekend.
-Troy swept a mid-week twin bill from Kennesaw State Tuesday. The Trojans will play South Carolina in a pair of non-conference games this weekend.