Two of the top four softball teams in the nation will clash this weekend when No. 2 Tennessee (28-3, 5-1 SEC) faces off against No. 4 Florida (31-4, 5-4) in a three-game series at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium.
The two bitter rivals will play each other for the first time in history with both teams ranked in the top four.
Florida leads the all-time series 43-21, including a 15-11 record in Knoxville. However, the Lady Vols are 11-6 against the Gators when UT is ranked higher.
For Tennessee, the Florida series always gets circled on the calendar before the season.
"We always get so pumped for this series especially just because of the fan atmosphere, everything," senior shortstop Madison Shipman said. "All the energy is just brought to the field."
Last season in Gainesville, Fla., the Gators took two out of three against the Lady Vols in the regular season.
The series has been tightly contested recently as four of the last five meetings have gone into extra innings – the one exception coming in their final matchup last season.
When the two teams met in the Women's College World Series, Tennessee knocked off Florida, 9-2, en route to the final.
This season, the Gators will be looking to avenge their loss in the WCWS after dropping two of their last three SEC games against No. 5 Alabama (28-5, 8-1) in Gainesville.
Previously, Florida had been ranked No. 1 for a number of weeks until their recent skid, which included a loss to Ole Miss (19-15, 3-6) at home.
Tennessee is coming off of a three-game sweep against South Carolina (19-12, 2-7) at home last weekend.
Despite the recent records of the two teams, co-head coach Karen Weekly is hesitant to say that the Lady Vols have the edge coming in.
"I don't know that there is ever a good time to catch anybody like that," Weekly said. "It's going to be a great series. We're always excited to play a great opponent like Florida. Great opponents bring out the best in you, and I know our girls are looking forward to the weekend."
Shipman in particular is excited to face a high level team such as Florida since Tennessee has only played three teams currently ranked in the top 25 so far – none higher than No. 18 – whereas the Gators have faced three of the top six teams in the nation already this season.
"They're always a good team," Shipman said. "They're always good competition. They've got speed, they've got power, and they've got great pitching, so it's going to be a great head-to-head matchup between us two."
The series opener will begin at 6 p.m. tonight, approximately an hour before tip-off of the men's basketball Sweet 16 game against Michigan.
Saturday and Sunday's game will start at 1 p.m. and can be seen on Comcast Sports South or streamed live on ESPN3.
"In my opinion," Shipman said, "it's always a good time to play Florida."