Gainesville Super Regional: No. 4 Gators get rematch with rival UGA

Zach Abolverdi
Gator Sports
Florida's Charla Echols is one of the players to watch this weekend against Georgia in the NCAA Gainesville Super Regional at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.

For the sixth consecutive year, Florida's softball team will play an SEC opponent in the Super Regional round of the NCAA Tournament. 

The No. 4 Gators (45-9) face a familiar foe this weekend in rival Georgia (32-21) after winning the regular season series, 2-1, at UGA in early April. 

UF will host the Bulldogs at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium on Friday at 5 p.m. on ESPNU and Saturday at 12 p.m. on ESPN. If necessary, a third game will be played Sunday at 12 p.m. on ESPN. 

Georgia swept the Athens Regional with two victories against No. 13 Duke and a win over Western Kentucky. Florida also advanced with a sweep in the Gainesville Regional, shutting out South Florida (twice) and South Alabama with a combined score of 19-0 and outhitting the two teams 28-3. 

“We’re excited to play another week,” Gators coach Tim Walton said. “I think the key for us is just our athletes have done a really good job of embracing the preparation it takes for them to be good hitters. I think they’ve shown that.”

After giving up no hits last Friday vs. USF, Florida pitcher Elizabeth Hightower (17-5) threw her first career no-hitter Sunday and a career-high 10 strikeouts. Katie Chronister earned her 10th win of the year in the regional opener and Saturday starter Natalie Lugo (17-2) matched her season high with 11 strikeouts against South Alabama. 

“The whole entire pitching staff did a great job,” Walton said. “Not to give up a run and give up the fewest hits that they’ve given up, they were fantastic and credit to them.” 

Players to watch for UGA include pitcher Mary Avant Wilson and offensive leaders Lacey Fincher (15), Sydney Kuma (14) and Sydney Chambley (10), all of whom have double-digit home runs. 

Hightower’s second loss of the season came in the opener at Georgia. UF outscored the Bulldogs 28-2 in the next two games to take the series, including the largest margin of victory (17-1) in the rivalry’s history. 

The Gators hold an all-time record of 42-28 against UGA and 18-15 when playing at home. Florida swept the Bulldogs in their last trip to Gainesville in 2017.

The two teams have only met four times in the NCAA Tournament. The Gators run-ruled Georgia 11-3 (5) in their most recent meeting at the 2018 Women’s College World Series. The Bulldogs eliminated the Gators in the 2016 Super Regionals in Gainesville, going 2-0. 

Super Regional winners advance to the WCWS starting June 3 in Oklahoma City, Ok.

Gainesville Super Regional

Georgia vs. Florida at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium

5 p.m. Today, ESPNU

12 p.m. Saturday, ESPN

12 p.m. Sunday, ESPN, if necessary

Tickets: Gators Ticket Office at 352-375-4683