After capturing its second-consecutive SEC Tournament championship this past weekend in exhilarating fashion, the Gators softball team returns to the field on Friday for the NCAA Regionals.
No. 5 nationally-seeded Florida (44-15) will square up against Boston University (37-18) at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium on Friday at 2:30 p.m.
The Gators solidified their position as a top-16 team nationally and secured Gainesville as a regional host via their conference tournament victory. Should Florida continue through the double-elimination Gainesville Regional that also includes Stanford and Boise State, it would remain in Gainesville to host one of eight NCAA Super Regionals.
Florida has little experience against BU in its history, possessing a 1-1 record against the Terriers in two prior contests, the last of which came more than 19 years ago.
The trip to Gainesville will be a first for the Terriers, who collected their second-consecutive Patriot League Tournament championship (and seventh in 11 years) last weekend with a 14-7 victory over Lehigh University.
The Gators will rely on ace Kelly Barnhill to deliver a strong performance against a solid BU lineup. The senior — who was recently crowned SEC Tournament MVP — will look to continue her dominance against a team that averaged over four runs per game and led the conference in home runs.
Freshman Emily Gant or sophomore Ali DuBois could start in the circle for BU against Florida. Both Gant (13-7, 1.56 ERA) and DuBois (23-9, 1.32 ERA) earned All-Tournament team honors for their performances this past week and can pose a challenge to Florida’s sometimes inconsistent lineup.
The Gators have found their stride with the bats as of late, however, led by outfielder and reigning SEC Player of the Year Amanda Lorenz, who is hitting .421 on the year.
The Gators hold a 41-19 overall record in NCAA Regional play and are 36-7 during Tim Walton’s 15-year tenure as head coach. History and home-field advantage, especially on the road to the Women’s College World Series, should give Florida a significant advantage over BU come Friday.
Follow Jack Braverman on Twitter @jack_braverman. Contact him at [email protected].