It has been easy for the Florida softball team in the early going.
The Gators have scored 51 runs on 48 hits and allowed just three runs through the first six games, including a 9-0 trouncing of North Florida in UF’s home-opener on Wednesday night behind pitcher Kelly Barnhill’s no-hitter.
With a 1-1 count in the bottom of the first inning, Florida catcher Janell Wheaton got ready…
The No. 2 Gators (6-0) will try to continue their hot-hitting spell when they travel to Lafayette to take on No. 16 Louisiana in a three-game series, starting with a double-header on Saturday at 4 p.m.
“When hitters hit it’s amazing. It hypes me up so much,” Barnhill said. “So we have to keep them going, you know?”
Florida enters the weekend ranked 15th in the nation in scoring (8.5 runs per game), and 11 Gators have at least one RBI this season, with freshman Jordan Matthews leading the way with 10.
“It’s been somebody new every time stepping up and getting a nice hit,” coach Tim Walton said. “I think that’s been a nice treat/luxury as a coach to have players one through nine be able to hit and then get Jordan Matthews off the bench.”
However, UF has arguably only played one team with above-average pitching, No. 20 Michigan and its star pitcher Meghan Beaubien. Despite nabbing two earned runs against the Wolverines on Saturday in Tampa, the Gators struggled to hone in on Beaubien’s pitches, tallying only four hits and two walks in 24 plate appearances. Shortstop Sophia Reynoso powered most of Florida’s offense, going 2-for-2 and registering the game’s only RBIs.
Like Michigan, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette has an ace pitcher of its own. Senior Kylee Jo Trahan has allowed only one run in 17.1 innings pitched and leads her team in opponent batting average (.102).
Her best performance came in a 9-0 mercy-rule rout of Iowa on Sunday. Trahan allowed only one hit and two walks in five innings.
She has also appeared in five of Louisiana’s six games this season, so the Gators will expect to see her often this weekend.
And it won’t be easy to escape with victories at the Louisiana’s Lamson Park, where the Ragin’ Cajuns have played and won four of their games this season.
“The one thing that stands out to me is that they’re a tradition-rich program,” Walton said. “I know it’s going to be a tough, hostile environment.”
Follow Mark Stine on Twitter @mstinejr and contact him at [email protected].