UL Softball Set To Take On Top-Ranked Florida – Series Preview
The 5th-ranked Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajun softball team has a big non-conference series ahead of them this weekend, when they travel to Gainesville, Florida, to take on the top-ranked Florida Gators, in a match-up of national powers.
The two teams are scheduled to play a doubleheader on Saturday, followed by a single game on Sunday, also at noon.
First-pitch on both days is scheduled for noon (cdt), and you can hear all the play-by-play action on Sports Radio ESPN 1420 & espn1420 .com beginning with the pre-game show at 11:45 am.
Obviously, with two teams ranked in the top five playing one another, it's an interesting series to begin with, but what makes the series even more interesting is the contrast in what makes each so good.
Louisiana, who is currently 32-3 on the season, will be bring in one of the top offenses in the country into the series, while Florida, who is 38-3, has one of the best pitching staffs in the nation.
As evidence, the Cajuns lead the country in home runs, while the Gators are tops in team ERA.
Offensively, Louisiana is hitting a .347, along with 77 home runs, 263 runs batted in, and 36 stolen bases in 41 attempts, while out-scoring foes, 286-58.
The Cajuns have four players, in Lexie Elkins (17), Aleah Craighton (13), D.J. Sanders (13), and Shellie Landry (10), who have hit double-digit home runs this season, while Kelsey Vincent has 9.
Elkins is injured, and will miss her third-consecutive weekend.
Excluding freshman Brittany Nollkamper, who is filling in for Elkins, every hitter in the Louisiana line-up is hitting a .272, or better, and 7 are hitting over a .300.
Pitching-wise, the Cajuns sport an overall, combined, team ERA. of 1.52, compared to a 8.79 for the opposition, while holding the opposition to a .203 batting average against.
Junior right-hander Alex Stewart is the ace of the UL staff, sporting a sparkling 17-1 record, along with a 1.55 ERA. In 122 innings pitched, Stewart has only walked 19 batters, while striking out 121.
Sophomore right-hander Kylie Jo Trahan, who is 10-2, to go along with a 1.76 ERA., could also see time in the circle this weekend.
UL's only losses this year came at the hands of Oregon, UT-Arlington, and Baylor.
Florida, has been ranked number one in the top 25 polls, with the exception of one week this year.
Their only losses this year have been to Auburn and Alabama (twice).
The Gators are hitting a .321 as a team, along with 35 home runs, 225 runs driven in, and 53 stolen bases in 64 attempts, while out-scoring opponents, 245-41.
Sophomore designated player Kayli Kvistad leads the Florida offense, hitting a .420 with 7 home runs and 41 runs batted in.
Pitching is where the Gators shine, with a current overall, combined, team ERA. of 0.85, while holding opponents to a .158 batting average against.
Very few teams have a true ace on their staff, but Florida has three.
Sophomore Aleshia Ocasio is 13-1 with a 0.45 ERA., while junior Delanie Gourley is 11-2 with a 0.78, and freshman Kelly Barnhill is 14-0 with a 1.38 ERA.
The trio, combined, has allowed only 84 walks, while striking out 347 batters.
Both of these teams play defense as well, with Florida fielding at a .982 clip, while Louisiana is at a .973.
This is the type of series that college softball fans around the country stand up and take notice of.