Softball wraps up regular season

With conference tournament seedings hanging in the balance, No. 12 Tennessee (46-10, 14-9) will wrap up its 2008 regular season by hosting No. 2 Florida (56-2, 24-1 SEC) in a three-game series May 3-4 at the Lee Softball Stadium. First pitch for both Saturday and Sunday's action is slated for 1 p.m. ET.

The first matchup of the series will be broadcast by COX Sports, available on Dish Network Channel 421. COX Sports is also available to certain cable viewers in Louisiana, southern Mississippi, western Alabama, the Florida Panhandle, eastern Texas, and southern Arkansas.

The Big Orange trails the Gators in the all-time series 26-17, but has won 10 of the last 16 meetings dating back to the 2004 campaign. In Knoxville, UT maintains a slim 9-8 advantage over the Orange & Blue. ,p> Florida took two of three games during its last visit to UT back in 2006 (4-6, 0-2, 8-0 in 6 innings), but the Lady Vols repaid the favor in Gainesville, Fla., last season by taking their series with the Gators two games to one (1-0 in 10 innings, 0-4, 3-1).

Last weekend during its most recent action, Tennessee split a doubleheader with No. 23 Mississippi State (1-2, 8-6) in Starkville, Miss., before having heavy rain cancel the final game of the series.

Senior shortstop Kenora Posey led the way during the pair of contests by hitting .667 (6-of-9), including a perfect 5-for-5 effort in game two. Sophomore center fielder Erinn Webb delivered a triple and her seventh homer of the campaign as part of a 3-for-7 (.429) performance against the Bulldogs.

Junior Danielle Pieroni went 2-for-2 during the series, and senior third baseman Tonya Callahan continued her impressive production by hitting .500 (2-for-4) with her team-best 59th RBI of the season and four walks, three intentional, as teams continue to fear the Holden, Mo., product's offensive production.

Entering the final weekend leading the SEC regular season standings by one full game over Alabama, No. 2 Florida ventures to Knoxville with a staggering 56-2 overall record and 24-1 SEC mark in tow despite the presence of just one senior on its roster.

It's hard to find any weaknesses with the Gator line-up as Florida currently leads the league in overall ERA (0.97) and rates third in batting average as a team at .319 while plating nearly six runs per game. From an offensive standpoint, Florida is second in runs scored (347), RBIs (303), home runs (50), and doubles (81) and first in total bases (733).

Junior Ali Gardiner guides the way for the Gator attack with a .400 average, 13 doubles and 49 RBIs to go along with seven HRs. Sophomore catcher Francesca Enea (.333) has blasted 13 of UF's 50 total homers while contributing 48 RBIs. Senior Mary Ratliff (.331) and freshman Megan Bush (.297) have added 39 and 35 RBIs, respectively. Overall, seven Orange & Blue players currently sit above the .300 mark.

The Gators also have the benefit of arguably the conference's most dominant hurler in junior Stacey Nelson. In 239.0 innings of work, the Los Alamitos, Calif., native possesses a 35-2 record with a miniscule 0.70 ERA and 270 strikeouts, all tops in the league. She's backed up by undefeated freshman Stephanie Brombacher, who enters the weekend with an 18-0 mark, a 1.57 ERA and 112 K's in 124.2 frames in the circle. Florida's defense has tallied a .972 fielding percentage with 46 errors in 58 contests, keeping the unearned run count to a low 17.

Live stats will be available through utladyvols.com, while periodic updates will be recorded on the Lady Vol Hotline (865-974-8700, box #6). Check the website or the Lady Vol Hotline for any weather-related game-time changes or updates.


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