Top-ranked Gators host Knights Wednesday

Staff reports
Tuesday, April 18, 2017 11:03 PM

Florida returned to the top ranking in this week’s USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 Coaches Poll. The Gators (40-3) are back in the No. 1 position since last holding it in the first poll of the regular season on Feb. 14.

The Gators will take that No. 1 ranking for a spin Wednesday against Central Florida (23-19) at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium at 6 p.m. The Gators hold the all-time record of 20-4 against the Knights and have won the last eight straight games by a combined score of 48-10.

In other news, UF sophomore pitcher Kelly Barnhill is this week's Louisville Slugger/NFCA Pitcher of the Week, USA Softball Co-Player of the Week and SEC Pitcher of the Week. Barnhill had 47 strikeouts over 23 innings pitched, a no-hitter and a 4-0 record against Top 25 competition all in the span of a week. It's the first time in program history that a Florida player has earned all three awards in the same week and the first time a Gator pitcher was named SEC Pitcher of the Week three times in a single season since Stacy Nelson accomplished the feat in 2009.

"It feels amazing to be selected for all of these awards, but what's more important is that the Gators won the weekend series with good defense and timely hitting against a tough SEC opponent." Barnhill said. "I am truly humbled by the awards, there are many great pitchers and players in this game and to be chosen for each of these is a great honor. My performance would have not been possible without my pitching coach and my catcher Janell Wheaton; with Janell behind the plate, my job gets a little easier."

Barnhill is also the nation's leader in ERA (0.19).

"I am very proud of Kelly and her performance last week to help lead us to four wins over Top 25 opponents, including a win over the (then) No. 1 team (FSU)." UF coach Tim Walton said.

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