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Monday, February 06, 2023

Florida softball will travel to Tampa for season opener against USF

The Gators have won the last 17 meetings against the Bulls

<p>Natalie Lugo comes into the 2021 season as Florida&#x27;s best weapon in the circle, finishing the brief 2020 campaign with a 1.64 ERA.</p>

Natalie Lugo comes into the 2021 season as Florida's best weapon in the circle, finishing the brief 2020 campaign with a 1.64 ERA.

339 days. That's how long the Gators have gone without playing another team. 

On Feb. 13, No. 7 Florida’s year-long hiatus will finally come to an end, as the team travels to face the University of South Florida for its first three-game series of the season. Excitement levels are high among the team and coaching staff as the Gators will finally get to face new competition. 

This season, Florida returns nearly its entire 2020 roster, including three-time All American Kendyl Lindaman — who chose to use her extra year of eligibility from Covid-19. She is joined by a lethal lineup starring senior infielder Hannah Adams, junior third baseman Charla Echols and junior outfielder Cheyenne Lindsey. Each carried a batting average over .350, with Echols and Lindaman clocking a .417 and .410, respectively. 

The 2021 roster also features four returnees in the bullpen while welcoming freshman Haley Pittman. Senior Natalie Lugo (1.64 ERA) and sophomore Rylee Trlicek (1.99 ERA) are Florida’s standouts in the circle. 

Head coach Tim Walton expects to make adjustments as the season gets underway, for better or worse. He is most concerned with fine-tuning the defense with the batting lineup and pitching staff almost identical to last season. 

“I don’t know how good we’re gonna be,” Walton said. “Right now, we’re working on that missing ingredient… chemistry and leadership.” 

A new addition will be seen at the shortstop position as freshman Kali Reis will make her collegiate debut. She brings a lot to the table as a young player with a high softball IQ. However, she lacks maturity and experience playing at the collegiate level, Walton said. 

Lindaman spoke highly of the freshman class, highlighting its ability to adapt to whatever Walton throws at them. She questions anyone who thinks these freshmen cannot contribute to their team. 

“They just bring so much to the table,” Lindaman said. “A lot of talent, a lot of skill, as well as knowledge.” 

USF finished the brief 2020 season with a 16-9 record. The Bulls return pitcher Georgina Corrick who finished with a 1.29 ERA in 97.1 innings. At the plate, Anamarie Bruni is expected to be a major challenge for the Gators. Bruni held a career-high batting average of .476 at the end of last season. 

Florida has walked away with a victory in each of the past 17 meetings against the Bulls. Despite this lengthy win-streak, the Gators are prepared for a solid fight. 

Contact Rachel Slay at rslay@alligator.org and follow her on twitter @racheljslay. 

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