Déjà vu For Gator Softball Team

For the second year in a row, the Gator softball team is set to host California in a Super Regional with the winner advancing to the College World Series. Just last year the Gators earned their first trip to Oklahoma City with a pair of 4-2 wins over the Golden Bears in front of the home folks.

The teams will meet Saturday night at 8:00 and again Sunday at 6:00. If necessary a third game will follow the Sunday contest.

California is a very different team than the one that visited Gainesville last May. The Bears are one of the fastest teams in the country thanks to the addition of transfer Shannon Thomas and freshmen twin sisters Jamia and Elia Houston. That trio has a combined 105 stolen bases in just 116 tries, an incredible 91 percent success rate. Jamia Houston (47-50) leads the way followed by Thomas (32-35) and Elia Houston (26-31).

The speed of California creates a matchup of strength versus strength. The Gators have allowed just 12 stolen bases on 22 attempts all season long.

Cal also mixes in some power with 55 homers on the year. Sanoe Kekahuna (11) and Valerie Arioto (10) lead the way in that category with the Houston sisters combining for another 13.

Defense has been a sore spot for Cal, which has committed 66 errors in 56 games. The Gators, by comparison have just 36 errors in five more games.

In the circle, California is more familiar to the Gators since Marissa Drewrey (24-10, 2.12) returns along with Arioto (14-8, 2.45). Drewrey was the starter and loser in both games against the Gators last year despite pitching rather well. She was victimized by her defense in game one (three unearned runs) and Megan Bush's tie-breaking ninth inning homer in the second game.

Gator senior Stacey Nelson did all the pitching in last year's Super Regional allowing just one earned run in 16 innings with 19 strikeouts. California also knows the Gator lineup well since Florida returns almost every player from a year ago. The biggest difference is the addition of right fielder Kelsey Bruder who has had a superb season (.386, 15 HR, 66 RBI).


Florida is one of three SEC teams that made it to the Super Regional and all three will be home this weekend. Alabama is hosting Jacksonville State which shocked Tennessee with two wins in Knoxville on Sunday. Georgia had to win at North Carolina but is back home in Athens hosting Ohio State.


Nelson is one of three finalists for the National Player of the Year. The other finalists are Arizona State offensive star Kaitlin Cochran and Washington pitching ace Danielle Lawrie. Nelson has won 37 games this season with just three losses. She has a microscopic 0.43 ERA and has struck out 302 hitters. Amazingly in 243 1/3 innings of work Nelson allowed just one home run.

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