By Justin Smith
Special to The Tuscaloosa News

Alabama softball looks to continue its winning streak heading into a three-game series against the Florida Gators on the road.

The Crimson Tide has won four straight after a mid-week win against Georgia State and a sweep of the Georgia Bulldogs at Rhoads Stadium over the weekend.

Since 2008, either the Tide or the Gators have taken the SEC regular-season crown. Alabama sits atop the SEC with LSU second. The Gators are fifth.

Alabama head coach Patrick Murphy said he has a lot of respect for the Gators and both teams appreciate the challenge that comes with the matchup.

“We respect the heck out of them,” Murphy said “They play the game the right away. They are classy. Whenever we play them, home or away, it is always a good matchup. I think both teams appreciate that.”

Murphy said both rosters are familiar with each other, some having played alongside one another in summer leagues or USA teams.

Florida enters the weekend series on an eight-game winning streak. Four of those wins were at home. The Gators’ recent success at home and the importance of this game have the Tide focused.

“Coming off of last season against the Gators and thinking about where we are now, it is a crucial game for us” sophomore outfielder KB Sides said. “We are not hyping it up as much because you do not want to play outside where your feet are. We just are going to prepare like any other game and go to Gainesville to take care of business.”

Freshman Montana Fouts made her return from an injury on Monday against Georgia, where she pitched four shutout innings, allowing one hit with seven strikeouts. Murphy was impressed with her outing and plans to use her in a limited capacity.

“She got her four innings,” Murphy said. “The only thing to me was when she went full count in the first inning to about three batters. Other than that I think she threw hard and had good movement. She said she was fine after the inning. With the doctors and trainers, we’ll figure out her limits for this weekend.”

No. 5 Alabama at No. 6 Florida
Schedule: Friday (DH) 4:30 p.m.; Saturday, 1 p.m.
Where: Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium, Gainesville, Fla.
Records: Alabama 42-4 (11-4 SEC), Florida 37-9 (9-6 SEC)
TV: ESPN2 (Friday, Game 1), ESPN (Saturday)
Radio: 93.3 FM