Florida Hosts UNF After Important Series Win

The weekend series win over No.3 Kentucky was a step in the right direction for Florida. There's room for improvement before the Gators are back to where they can be, but there were positives signs as Florida gets back to action on Tuesday by hosting North Florida. The improvements came from the starting pitching over the weekend while No. 5 Florida still waits for the offense to hit its stride.

The Florida offense ended the weekend 28-97 (.289) at the plate. The Gators scored five runs in the first two games before being held to one run in the third game of the series.

Florida continues to wait for its offensive outbreak. The offense has shown flashes in midweek games, like the one the Gators host on Tuesday when the Ospreys make the trek to McKethan Stadium.

A quick look at the SEC stats show that Florida's stars aren't producing in conference games. Florida All-American catcher Mike Zunino, who is expected to be a top-five overall pick in this summer's MLB Draft, is hitting just .244 with three home runs and 13 RBI against conference teams.

Shortstop Nolan Fontana is hitting .247 mostly from the leadoff spot in the lineup with two home runs, 11 RBI and 15 runs scored.

For the offense to regain its form from early in the season, the Gators need their stars to carry the load as the regular season winds down.

The starting pitching was steady over the weekend.

For the first time since the William & Mary series on February 24-26, the Gators had their trio of weekend starters back and healthy. Hudson Randall, Brian Johnson and Karsten Whitson each toed the rubber and had strong outings.

The three starters combined to go 16.1 innings, allowing 16 hits, five runs and five walks while striking out eight hitters. It wasn't reminiscent of the dominant weekends the three posted during the 2011 season, but all three made it through healthy and had flashes of dominance.

That's the most important thing for the Florida pitching staff. Each of the three will get two more regular season starts before heading to the SEC Tournament and the NCAA Tournament soon after. There's just enough time for the three to get dialed in, with sophomore right-hander Jonathon Crawford waiting in the bullpen if the Gators need him.

Florida starting pitchers are 19-5 with a 3.54 ERA and have 176 strikeouts and 45 walks in 218.2 innings pitched this season.

Tuesday night offers a chance for the Gators to show maturity. After the important series win, the Gators get another shot at UNF. Florida went on the road to face the Ospreys at their home park on April 3. The game was two days after Florida lost a three-game series at Ole Miss, and the slide continued, as the Gators dropped a 10-5 game.

Florida will send freshman right-hander Johnny Magliozzi (4-2, 3.41) to the mound to face UNF junior left-hander Tommy Organ (4-2, 3.55). First pitch is set for 7 p.m.

Fightin Gators Top Stories