Florida begins SEC play against traditional SEC powerhouse Mississippi State in Gainesville tonight.
The Gators (13-3, No. 6 ranking) have played very well this season, losing to FSU, Miami and Charleston Southern. Miss State (11-6) has been up and down, including a 3-game sweep to Southeastern Louisiana and losing 3 of 4 games last weekend at a tournament in Texas.
Tonight, Florida will run out sophomore southpaw Alex Panteliodis, who is 4-0 with an 1.10 ERA. He faces MSU's Kendall Graveman, who is making his first start. Graveman has allowed 20 hits and seven runs in 16.2 innings, with one win in five appearances. Saturday, Brian Johnson (1-1, 5.52) will look to improve his recent struggles against Miss State's Chris Stratton (2-2, 2.95). UF has not yet announced their Sunday starter as they deal with the loss of Tommy Toledo, who is out after a line drive broke bones in his face last weekend.
Miss State is allowing opponents to hit .271 and has a team ERA of 4.18. The Gators need to take advantage of this and get SEC play started on the right note. UF first baseman Preston Tucker is hitting well (.383) but his power numbers are too low for a guy of his ability; 2 HR, 4 doubles, .550SLG. Miss State may try to pitch around him as FSU and Miami have done, which means Tucker has to pound anything in the zone.
All three games will be on TV. Friday and Sunday will be on FSFlorida, Saturday will be on CSS.