Gator Softball Team Faces Powerful Opponent

You could search high and low throughout history and you may not find a more dramatic contrast than the one facing the Gator softball team Thursday night. Florida opens play in the College World Series in the final game of the day in Oklahoma City. This is definitely one of those games when you are going to see strength versus strength.

Arizona is the top home run hitting team in the country with 134 on the year; a remarkable 2.20 HR per game. The Wildcats lead the nation in scoring as well, averaging 8.18 runs a game.

Stacey Nelson is the best pitcher in the country at limiting the long ball, surrendering just one HR in just more than 255 innings in the circle.

Something's got to give Thursday night.

Arizona is led by Stacey Chambers who leads the country with 31 homers and teammate Jenae Leles is tied for second with 23. In all six Arizona hitters have hit double digits in home runs.

As a result the Wildcats are a high scoring team and when they hit, they win. Arizona has scored six or more runs 44 times this season and won all but one of those contests. In the 17 games when opposing teams kept the Wildcats to five runs or less, they are just 3-14.

Now you look at the Gators who have allowed just one team (Alabama) to score as many as six runs in 63 contests. When Gator opponents score five runs or less, Florida owns a dominant 60-2 record. Florida is no slouch offensively either ranking eighth in the nation in home runs (1.29/game). The Gators' 6.65 runs per game are fourth best in the NCAA.

Arizona uses three pitchers, led by Sarah Akamine (22-7, 2.41) who is solid, but the Wildcats team ERA of 2.79 is 98th best in college softball. That simply doesn't come close to the numbers that Nelson has put on the board this season (39-3, 0.41). Combining Nelson with sophomore Stephanie Brombacher the Gators are tops in the nation with a team ERA of 0.55.

There's an old saying that good pitching beats good hitting. In this case, Florida is counting on great pitching to beat great power hitting.

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The CWS begins at 1:00 when Washington faces Georgia followed by Missouri and Arizona State. Washington is considered the clear favorite on this side of the draw with star pitcher Danielle Lawrie. The night session opens at 7:00 with Alabama against Michigan followed by the Florida/Arizona game. The winners in this half of the draw will meet Friday night at 9:00 while the losers play an elimination game Saturday at 2:00.

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Nelson picked up another honor Wednesday when she was named the NCAA Academic All-American of the year. Nelson had earlier received the award for the best senior in college softball. She is joined on the Academic All-American team by Brombacher, first baseman Ali Gardiner and catcher Kristina Hilberth.


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