Overall Rank: #4
Conference Rank: #1 SEC
The Florida Gators finished runner-up in the College World Series behind Arizona State and start the 2012 campaign February 10-12 at the USF-Fairfield Inn and Suites Tampa North Tournament, hosted by South Florida in Tampa. The Gators were voted by conference coaches as the favorite to win the SEC title. The team finished 21-7 in 2011 Southeastern Conference play en route to their fourth-straight SEC Eastern Division title, the program’s fifth all-time, while producing a nation-leading and program-record six All-Americans and five Academic All-Americans through Florida’s fourth 50-win season last year.
2011: 56-13, 21-7
2011 Postseason: CWS
Coach: Tim Walton
After losing five All-Americans, the Gators return three in senior centerfielder Michelle Moultrie (.434), junior catcher Brittany Schutte (.326, 22 homers, 69 RBIs) and sophomore right-hander Hannah Rogers. They also boast a slate of seven newcomers, including USA Softball Women’s Junior National Team members Lauren Haeger and Jess Damico, along with the 2011 Gatorade Florida Softball Player of the Year in Sami Fagan. The Gators were voted by the SEC coaches as the favorite to win the SEC title. After playing on the USA National Team, Moultrie has stepped up and, according to Gator head coach Tim Walton, “she’s really brought back a different edge verbally. She’s taken on and embraced that senior leadership role that she hasn’t had the last three years—she didn’t have to—now she’s really stepped into that role.” Moultrie will be the team’s silent leader with shortstop, Cheyenne Coyle, the vocal leader. “I’ve pretty much always been a vocal person,” said Coyle.” I think that’s because I’m talkative and laugh a lot to begin with. I feel like Michelle is a great leader by example. People will sit back and watch Michelle. If Michelle says something, everybody listens. If we need someone to be loud and vocal, they turn to me.” Coyle batted .318 and hit 17 homers in 2011. The Gators smashed 124 homers and two of the three players who hit 15 or more homers are returning in Coyle and Schutte (22). Graduating were Megan Bush (21 homers, 80 RBIs), Ashley Bruder (.387, 19 homers), and Aja Paculb (.338, 16 homers, 62 RBIs).
Rogers will be the ace of the staff after a 36-8 season with a 1.92 ERA and 221 strikeouts in 265.2 innings. Rogers is hoping to have as good a year in 2012 as she did in 2011, and will be the mentor to two younger freshman pitchers (Lauren Haeger and Alyssa Bache). “We’re really close. They’re funny girls and we have a lot of fun practicing together. They’re great people and great softball players, so it should be a fun season getting to play with each other. It also helps now that we have two more pitchers and Ensley (Gammel) back too.” Having Schutte behind the plate will help in the development of the frosh pitchers.
Who To Watch:
Rogers will need to be the ace of the staff, depending how the two freshmen pitchers develop. Moultrie is clearly one of the best players in the United States. She has the tools to start in the pro league with her speed and defensive abilities. Moultrie is also a good contact hitter and stole 31 bases in 34 attempts last year. She is an exciting player to watch play and was named a second-team preseason All-American by College Sports Madness. Catcher Schutte was named a first-team preseason All-American by College Sports Madness.
The Gators were an offensive powerhouse, ranking second in average number of runs scored (7.36), first in homers per game (1.8), 11th in batting (.324), 40th in ERA (2.16) and 13th in fielding percentage (.973). If the freshmen develop as anticipated, the Gators will be back at the College World Series again.
Projected Postseason: NCAA
At Bats: Michelle Moultrie, OF, 228
Hits: Michelle Moultrie, OF, 101
Home Runs: Brittany Schutte, C, 22
RBIs: Brittany Schutte, C, 69
Runs: Michelle Moultrie, OF 75
Stolen Bases: Michelle Moultrie, OF, 31
Wins: Hannah Rogers, P, 36
Innings Pitched: Hannah Rogers, P, 265.2
Strikeouts: Hannah Rogers, P, 221
Saves: Hannah Rogers, P, 3
Madness 2012 NPF Draft Rankings:
#4 Michelle Moultrie
Madness 2012 Softball Recruit Rankings:
#1 Lauren Haeger
#7 Alyssa Bache
#9 Bailey Castro
#11 Jessica Damico
#34 Briana Little
#43 Sami Fagan