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Monday, June 1, 2015

Florida v. Michigan - Head-to-Head by Position

PITCHER:
Florida: Lauren Haeger/Aleshia Ocasio/Delanie Gourley
Michigan: Megan Betsa/Haylie Wagner
Advantage: Florida
Why: Although the Wolverines have two All-Americans on their staff in Betsa & Wagner, the Gators have Lauren Haeger. To call the National Player of the Year dominant would be a categorical understatement... not only was she dominant as she went undefeated during the regular season, she may have lost her first game of the season in the postseason but has been even more dominant over top levels of competition in the postseason. Dangerous with both her arm and her bat, the Gators will have the upper hand as long as she is on the field.

CATCHER:
Florida: Aubree Munro
Michigan: Lauren Sweet
Advantage: Florida
Why: Munro hit just .226 this season, but is 3-7 in the World Series and has reached base four times via the walk. She is stellar defensively and not only hasn't made an error defensively all season long, but makes athletic plays look easy. Sweet is a much better hitter, with a .320 average and twelve home runs to her credit this season. However, she only has two hits in the World Series. While one was a victory-icing grand slam against Alabama and she is equally as great defensively with a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage of her own, Florida has the hotter hand and holds a very slim advantage behind the plate going into the championship series.

FIRST BASE:
Florida: Kayli Kvistad/Taylor Schwarz
Michigan: Tera Blanco
Advantage: Michigan
Why: Kvistad and Schwarz have formed something of an unusual platoon at first base for the Gators; Kvistad provides the bigger offensive bat while Schwarz is usually placed in the lineup for her defense or serves as a late-inning defensive replacement. The platoon is somewhat underimpressive in terms of production, though, with both batting averages falling under .250 and only forty-five hits and eight home runs combined. Blanco, a freshman whose batting average falls just under .300 flat, registers seven home runs on the year but has more base hits to her solo credit than both of her blue-and-orange-wearing peers.

SECOND BASE:
Florida: Kelsey Stewart
Michigan: Sierra Romero
Advantage: Michigan
Why: This was the most difficult head-to-head matchup to declare an advantage in. Quite possibly the two best second basemen in the game at any level at this point in time, Romero and Michigan gain the slight advantage thanks to the simply overwhelming presence the all-American and Player of the Year finalist provides at any given time. Whether she's in the field at either of the middle infield positions, in the batter's box, or on the base paths, Romero makes things happen. Stewart could be described the same way, but Romero's power bat (22 home runs to Stewart's 2) give her the edge.

THIRD BASE:
Florida: Taylore Fuller
Michigan: Lindsay Montemarano
Advantage: Florida
Why: Fuller, the junior star at the hot corner for the Gators, doubled her career home run total this season, knocking fourteen long balls over the fence. Her .284/.581/.421 bests her Wolverine counterpart in two of the three categories; Montemarano, the sophomore, also registers a lower fielding percentage. Florida earns the advantage at the hot corner thanks to a powerful bat and a more imposing guardian of the third sack.

SHORTSTOP:
Florida: Kathlyn Medina
Michigan: Abby Ramirez
Advantage: Michigan
Why: Though Medina is recognized for her defense, her bat is particularly weak to the point that she is often the player that does not enter the batter's box on offense. Ramirez boasts a .370 batting average and twelve extra base hits. Both players have committed seven errors on the season, so Michigan easily holds the advantage at the position.

LEFT FIELD:
Florida: Nicole DeWitt
Michigan: Kelly Christner
Advantage: Michigan
Why: Though Florida's freshman DeWitt has been hot of late, Kelly Christner was rightfully a first-team All-American selection after a breakout 2015 campaign that saw her emerge as not just a Big Ten star, but a national player to be recognized and a powerful bat to be reckoned with. Though DeWitt should be a factor in the championship series, Christener has proven herself a valuable component of the Wolverine offense and she holds the strong advantage on the left side of the outfield.

CENTER FIELD:
Florida: Kirsti Merritt
Michigan: Sierra Lawrence
Advantage: Draw
Why: Both are absolutely stellar defensively and have similar offensive stats, though Lawrence's power numbers are better. Nonetheless, both are greatly depended on by their respective teams and both will have a big part to play in the championship series, whether with the glove, bat, or both. 

RIGHT FIELD:
Florida: Justine McLean
Michigan: Kelsey Susalla
Advantage: Michigan
Why: Susalla is another Wolverine that has enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2015. 5-9 with two walks in the World Series, she is tied for 3rd on the team with fourteen home runs and a .389 batting average. McLean has only started two of her team's three games in the World Series thus far and has failed to live up to the hype that her .357 batting average might lead you to expect; she has reached base just once in the series. The junior Susalla easily wins the head-to-head 'battle' at the position.

DESIGNATED PLAYER:
Florida: Bailey Castro
Michigan: Aidan Falk
Advantage: Michigan
Why: The usually-dependable Castro has been ice cold all tournament long and unless she is able to find her rhythm again quickly in the championship series, she'll do little more than fill up a spot in the batting order for Tim Walton's ball club. Carol Hutchins started Haylie Wagner in the DP spot on Sunday, presumably to have the luxury of swapping Wagner and Betsa out in the circle as many times as she wanted without burning either of them; even if Wagner gets the start again in that position over Falk, the Wolverines will still hold the advantage until Castro is able to regain her form.


Justin's Pick: Florida in 3 games...

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