As we head into week two of the 2023 college softball season, we have five things you should watch for related to our Florida teams. We start with No. 7 Florida State, who will face five straight nationally-ranked opponents, two in the top five at the TaxAct Clearwater Invitational. They had the upset loss to Longwood last weekend but appeared to wake up after that and looked impressive in all games after the loss. They will face No. 15 Arizona today at 4:00 pm. Tomorrow they will see No. 4 Arkansas. On Saturday, they face No. 2 UCLA; Sunday, they have No. 22 Louisiana and No. 12 Alabama. We should know a lot about where the Seminoles are after this weekend.
The No. 20 UCF Knights will also be at the event and face three ranked opponents in No. 25 Michigan, No. 17 Duke, and No. 12 Alabama. Pitching for the Knights is what we will be watching. They threw well last weekend but will need to improve if they want to remain a threat as the season progresses. Their bats were hot the previous weekend, and if they sustain that, it will help the pitchers.
The No. 3 Florida Gators will be hosting an event at home. They are all winnable games on paper. So, we will be watching for consistency and keeping their bats going. Thus far, they have posted ten home runs, and nine players are hitting .300 or better, with six hitting above .400. There is no reason they should not be able to carry on with that through this weekend.
Over at UNF, can redshirt junior Chloe Culp stay hot at the plate? Last week she knocked in five and posted a .429 average. The Osprey team could surprise this season if things go their way. One reason may be their ability to generate runs, and Culp will play a significant role in that.
The USF Bulls will also play in the TaxAct Clearwater Invitational. They are scheduled to face three ranked opponents in No. 19 Duke and No. 9 Virginia Tech. USF did pick up a win against No. 25 Michigan on opening weekend. Will they be able to knock another top 25 this weekend? The pitching was strong for the Bull’s opening weekend. If they can replicate that, they may get another big win on the season. Their bats will need to wake up for that to happen.