UF SOFTBALL

Top-ranked Gators set to host Lipton Invitational


Florida's Lauren Haeger hits a double during the Gators' 11-1 win over South Florida in the NCAA regionals on May 18, 2013 at Pressly Stadium.

Matt Stamey / Staff photographer
Published: Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 10:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 10:20 p.m.

It's been more than eight months since the Gators recorded their fifth 50-win season in school history in a season that saw the team reach its fifth Women's College World Series appearance in the past six years.

Facts

LIPTON INVITATIONAL

At Pressly Stadium
FRIDAY'S GAMES
9 a.m.: Georgia Southern vs. Coastal Carolina
11:15 a.m.: Georgia Southern vs. Troy
1:30 p.m.: Indiana vs. Coastal Carolina
4 p.m.: Florida vs. Troy*
6:15 p.m.: Florida vs. Indiana*
SATURDAY'S GAMES
9:30 a.m.: Coastal Carolina vs. Troy
Noon: Florida vs. Troy*
2:15 p.m.: Florida vs. Indiana*
4:30 p.m.: Georgia Southern vs. Coastal Carolina
6:45 p.m.: Georgia Southern vs. Indiana
SUNDAY'S GAMES
9:30 a.m.: Troy vs. Indiana
Noon: Florida vs. Coastal Carolina*
2:15 p.m.: Florida vs. Georgia Southern*
*broadcast on AM-1230

Despite all of the accomplishments that rained down on Florida last year, the most elusive slipped away: a national title.

The 58-9 team from last season is long in the rearview mirror after the Gators, currently the top-ranked team in the nation, started the season with a perfect 12-0 record, with the last outing being a 6-0 victory over Jacksonville in the home opener on Wednesday.

“I thought we had a lot of good performances,” UF coach Tim Walton said in a release. “We had some good at-bats, really good defensive plays and obviously a lot of good hitting. Lauren (Haeger) had a two-run homer. Taylore Fuller is getting it going. Really good baserunning by Taylor Schwarz to make some things happen. Overall, I thought there were a lot of bright spots.”

After being on the road for the first two weeks of the season, Florida will now get the luxury of having six home games in a row, starting Friday with the Lipton Invitational.

The tournament serves as a tune-up for some of the challenges upcoming on the schedule. None of the teams the Gators will compete against in the event — Troy, Indiana, Coastal Carolina and Georgia Southern — are currently ranked in the top 25.

Even though there may be a lack of firepower in the opposition, the invitational will be a chance to prepare for No. 8 Oregon in a nationally televised game on Feb. 28.

The closest outing of the season so far has been a 3-2 win over Illinois State on Feb. 7. Florida has since torn through the schedule, highlighted by reaching double-digit runs in three of the past five games, while outscoring opponents by a margin of 57-5.

While no amount of dominating victories will erase the disappointment of failing to secure a championship last season, the four home games will be the first real chance to show Gators' fans that the No.1 ranking could just be the beginning.

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