After two days of double headers, Florida softball’s 2022 regular season has come to a close. Florida took on Mercer and Florida Gulf Coast at home this weekend as a final warm up for the SEC Tournament beginning on Tuesday.
No. 10 Florida went undefeated on the first night, with an 8-3 win over Mercer and an 8-0 over FGCU. The Gators were less dominant on Saturday, falling to the Eagles 3-2 before defeating Mercer 2-0 to close out the weekend.
The contrast between the two doubleheaders reflects Florida’s season: Stretches of success with signs of inconsistency at points. Ahead of the conference tournament, here’s three takeaways from the Gators’ final weekend series.
Bullpen shows reliability
In the weekend series, the Gators bullpen combined for a 2.28 ERA and allowed just 17 hits for six runs. Three came in the loss to FGCU Saturday. The Gators bullpen has been valuable all season with a 2.46 team ERA, the second best in the SEC. Florida will need to depend on its pitching group led by senior Elizabeth Hightower if it wants to achieve success in the postseason.
Batting needs to stay consistent
On the first day of doubleheaders Florida averaged 12.5 hits. Saturday, the Gators averaged five. Winning an SEC championship won’t require Florida to play at its peak of dominance in every game, but it will require some level of consistency at the plate. The Gators are seventh in the conference in on-base percentage and RBIs. This team is defense-focused, but will need to muster consistent offensive production for a chance at a conference title.
Exorcise the home field demons
Florida is in a unique situation. The conference tournament is being held in Gainesville at its home field. Most teams would rejoice in the free home advantage. However, the Gators boast an impressive 14-4 away record. Although UF’s 20-10 home record is no disaster, it’s worth noting that the Gators have been better on the road and have experienced some difficult losses at home this year. Florida needs to find a way to take advantage of the circumstances.
The SEC softball tournament begins May 10. Florida will likely be seeded sixth based on its conference record. The games will be broadcast on the SEC Network.