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By: Cody Porter
UK softball (24-26, 10-12 SEC) returns to action with a three-game set that begins Friday against the No. 4 Florida Gators (42-6, 19-3 SEC).
Florida welcomes the Cats after collecting a 13-2 record since March 31.
The Cats are hoping the Gators are looking ahead to a looming series against No. 3 Alabama.
The Gators have propelled to their No. 4 ranking with much help from their pitching staff, which is third in the nation with a 1.13 ERA.
Gator sophomore right-hander Hannah Rogers leads the Gators and is ranked in the top five nationally in both ERA (1.05) and victories (25).
Freshman Gator Lauren Haeger, the second half of the Gators’ pitching duo, has a 1.31 ERA. In 19 appearances this season she has earned a 12-3 record.
Not to be lost in the success are the Gators’ bats. Florida’s team .313 batting average ranks 22nd in the nation.
In producing that average, the Gators are hitting home runs at a clip of 1.22 per game, which ranks 11th nationally and is second to Alabama in the SEC.
For the first time in many weeks, it was UK’s pitching that didn’t have a problem during its three weekend losses to Mississippi State, but its bats couldn’t plate winning runs in all three games.
The Cats’ go-to pitcher, senior Chanda Bell, has a 12-10 record out of a team-high 30 appearances on the mound.
She also overwhelmingly leads the team with 157 strikeouts, 88 more than UK’s second pitcher in the rotation, senior Rachel Riley.
Game one is scheduled for a 6 p.m. opening pitch Friday and game two will begin at 1 Saturday. The series will conclude with a noon start on Sunday.