TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 2009
Softball hosts No. 2 Florida on Wednesday at 5 p.m.
The JU softball team will have a tall order ahead of them when the Dolphins host No. 2 Florida on Wednesday at 5 p.m. in the 2009 home opener at the JU Softball Complex.

The Gators (2-1) enter as the highest ranked team the Dolphins (1-4) will face in school history. This is the fourth time in the Dolphins' seven-year existence they have played someone ranked in the Top five in the polls. JU faced No. 3 Florida last season in doubleheader and No. 4 Stanford in 2005.

The previous highest team for the Dolphins was No. 4 Stanford in 2005, which rallied back in the bottom of the sixth inning to steal a 2-1 victory away JU at the USF Wilson Tournament in Tampa, Fla.

The game is also deemed “Pack the Park” night where the Dolphins are encouraging all fans to come break the current attendance record (418, 2004) and create a hostile environment for the in-state rival Gators.

“We are excited for this opportunity to play Florida,” said JU head coach Amanda Lehotak. “This is a chance of a lifetime. We are prepared and ready for tomorrow. We plan of giving Florida the fight of its life.”

The Dolphins enter Wednesday’s game after five hard fought games at the FIU Combat Classic to open the season. JU picked up a shutout win over Texas A&M-CC on Feb. 6, but saw games get away from them late in losses to Auburn (5-1), No. 18 North Carolina (4-1) and FIU (2-1 (8)).

Despite finishing with a 1-2 mark, freshman right-handed pitcher Sarah Sigrest flourished in her first collegiate week by posting a 1.66 ERA in 21.2 innings and fanning 16 batters. She opened the season with a nine strikeouts and scattering six hits to earn the complete-game shutout over Texas A&M-CC. Her nine strikeouts were the most in a debut by a JU pitcher in program history.

Sophomore infielder Katie Kelly paced the JU offense after batting .313 (5-16) with two doubles and an RBI, while sophomore centerfielder Kayla Ouellet tallied a hit in four of the five games.

Florida comes to the First Coast after taking two of three from Baylor in Gainesville. The Gators opened with a pair of shutout wins, but the Bears found a chink in the armor to come away with a 1-0 win on Feb. 8.

Stacey Nelson led the way in the circle for the Gators by fanning 15 batters and allowing no earned runs on seven hits in 14 innings.Francesca Enea drove in three runs and had a home run to lead the offense.

This is the seventh overall meeting between the two schools, with the Gators taking all six games. Last season, the Gators took a doubleheader, 2-0 & 5-0, over the Dolphins en route to their NCAA record-setting 70-5 season. Despite the loss, the Dolphins were one of 10 teams to hold the Gators below their run average (5.51).

Fans can view the game live online through A-Sun.TV with JU Sports Network director Joel Lamp providing the play-by-play and former softball coaching legend Sonya Wilmoth providing color starting at 5 p.m.