Gators on Track for Season Goals

It wasn't the way Florida drew it up, but thanks to some help across the SEC, the Gators are still where they want to be. With two weekends left in the conference season, Florida controls its own destiny. The weekend in Fayetteville didn't go as planned, but the Gators are still in the position they need to be in.

It wasn't only Florida that struggled. South Carolina lost the series at Ole Miss, a team the Gators swept in the previous week. Vanderbilt lost a game to Kentucky, who is bringing up the rear of the SEC in the standings. All three teams were on the road, and despite coming into the weekend with only four losses each, they all lost at least one game.

It's not like the Gators were blown out in either of the two losses to Arkansas. The Thursday night game saw Florida earn a lead, but ace Hudson Randall gave up two home runs to surrender the lead. Don't expect that to happen often. Randall has been dominant all year, but it's unrealistic to have expectations that he won't struggle.

Friday, Johnson wasn't himself. He only went four innings but the Florida offense couldn't pick up the slack for him, and Florida lost 5-3.

Karsten Whitson was good on Saturday (5.2 IP, 3 ER), but the bright spot came out of the bullpen. Austin Maddox continued to prove himself as a valuable arm in big situations, as he tossed a hitless 3.1 innings, allowing only one base runner on a walk.

Maddox might be the most reliable arm out of the bullpen at this point. He was in the running to be the team's closer at the start of the season, but the sophomore is working his way into more mound time. In 19 innings this season, Maddox has a microscopic ERA of 0.95. He has allowed 12 hits and two earned runs while walking only three batters and striking out 16. Opponents are hitting .056 against Maddox.

It wasn't the best weekend, but as the Gators head to Nashville this weekend, they have a chance to win put themselves in good standing to win a conference title. The last time that happened? That came last season in the final regular season weekend when the Gators went to Columbia and took two-of-three from South Carolina in front of record crowds to bring the SEC Championship to Gainesville.

Vanderbilt doesn't bring in the same crowds or present the hostile environment that Columbia did last season. However, the Commodores boast plenty of pitching that should make for a low scoring series.

The series loss at Fayetteville wasn't what Florida was hoping for, but it also doesn't derail any of the goals for the Gators.

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