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Follow LIVE: No.4 Florida softball ready for 2023 season

Florida Gators Softball team celebrates

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The No.4-ranked Florida softball is set to open the 2023 season at the USF-Rawlings Invitational this Friday through Sunday at the USF Softball Stadium. Boston University: Listen | Live Stats | Boston College: Listen | Live Stats | Illinois State: Listen | Live Stats

The Gators return a plethora of players from last year's 2022 Women's College World Series squad and look to use that experience to put together a successful 2023 campaign that includes plenty of goals, including a return trip back to Oklahoma City.

That journey begins Friday, Feb. 10, at 7 p.m. against Boston University. The Gators and the Terriers, the preseason favorite to win the Patriot League, have only met on the diamond in three previous occasions, with the most recent occurring in 2019 when the Orange and Blue dispatched BU 3-0 in the NCAA Gainesville Regional.

Florida is also slated to play Boston College and Illinois State Saturday at 11:30 and 2 p.m., respectively, and will close out the invitational Sunday against host USF at 1 p.m. The Gators and the Bulls matchup is set to be streamed via ESPN+.

The Gators history with Boston College is brief as this weekend will serve as the two programs have only met once before in Gainesville during the 2014 season where the Gators dispatched the Eagles 7-3 during a regular season matchup.

However, Illinois State is very familiar opponent for the Orange & Blue as the two squads will meet for the 18th time overall and the 10th time since 2017 to which UF holds a 16-2 advantage in the overall record book.

The series history with USF runs the deepest as Sunday's matchup will be the 73rd all-time meeting with UF holding a 59-13 record overall and a 26-3 record when playing in Tampa. - Read more news: Virginia Tech baseball announces games to broadcast live on ACC Network

This year's Gators squad returns a high-powered offense that posted a team .314 average at the plate, which is the highest batting average by a UF squad throughout a full season since the 2016 team posted a .312 average, and a program record 132 stolen bases.

Leading the way at the plate is 2022 NFCA Second Team All-American Skylar Wallace and 2021 NFCA First Team All-American Charla Echols along with breakout stars Kendra Falby, Katie Kistler, Reagan Walsh, Sam Roe and Avery Goelz.

In the circle for the Gators, the program brings back 2021 NFCA Third Team All-American Elizabeth Hightower along with key contributors to the Gators run to last season's WCWS in Rylee Trlicek and Lexie Delbrey.

Additionally, a few familiar faces are poised for breakout seasons this year as Baylee Goddard and Sarah Longley look to make a significant impact. While UF looks to see production from the four newcomers the program welcomed in the offseason. Graduate transfers right-handed pitcher Samantha Bender and utility player Pal Egan along with freshman first base/right-handed pitcher Olivia Gigante and freshman infielder Kaila Pollard are poised to provide depth in the circle and the lineup this year.

Once the Gators conclude opening weekend they will set their sights on Jacksonville with a home-and-home set for Tuesday, Feb. 14, at 6 p.m. in Jacksonville and the 2023 home opener Wednesday, Feb. 15, at 6 p.m.

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