#2 Florida Softball 2017 Preview

Florida Gators
Overall Rank: #2
Conference Rank: #1 SEC
Over the last several seasons the Florida Gators have been the team to beat when it comes to college softball. Florida won their sixth SEC regular season title last season, but lost in the SEC Tournament 2-1 to eventual tournament winner Auburn. They also have the distinction of being one of only three teams that have won NCAA titles in consecutive years. The other two teams that have done it are UCLA and Arizona. Last season everything was rolling along smoothly for Florida until they ran in to the Georgia Bulldogs in their regional round and were eliminated by them in two straight games ending the Gators season and the dream of a championship three-peat.
2016: 56-7, 20-4
2016 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Tim Walton
Key Departed Players:
Aubree Munro, C, .283 BA, 3 HR, 31 RBI
Kelsey Stewart, IF, .303 BA, 3 HR, 20 RBI
Kirsti Merritt, OF, .331 BA, 8 HR, 44 RBI
Taylor Schwarz, IF, .167, 2 HR, 11 RBI
Taylore Fuller, UT, .240 BA, 8 HR, 37 RBI
Key Returning Players:
Delanie Gourley, P, 0.80 ERA, 157.2 IP, 224 SO
Kelly Barnhill, P, 1.36 ERA, 108.1 IP, 167 SO
Aleshia Ocasio, P, 0.77 ERA, 146.1 IP, 147 SO
Amanda Lorenz, OF, .403 BA, 8 HR, 48 RBI
Kayli Kvistad, IF, .370 BA, 11 HR, 60 RBI
Nicole DeWitt, IF, .342 BA, 7 HR, 42 RBI
Most preseason polls this year have Florida at or near the top with good reason. What makes a team want to win? The taste of defeat. Even though Florida had what most programs would consider a really good season last year, for the Gators it was a big disappointment when they got knocked out in their Super Regionals round by Georgia. Most pundits thought that the team was on their way to a third straight championship. While the team did lose some good players, including Aubree Munro, Kelsey Stewart and Kirsti Merritt, they are so stacked with talent that I don’t see any real drop off for this year’s team. Still part of the team are power hitters Amanda Lorenz and Kayli Kvistad. But the main reason that the Gators are picked to win a lot of games this season is its returning pitching staff made up of Delanie Gourley, Kelly Barnhill and Aleshia Ocasio. The three pitchers combined had a crazy low era of 0.93 last season. When your pitchers’ can hold the opposing team to under one run a game you don’t need much offense to win games. I think the only thing that stands between the Florida Gators and a national championship this year is Oklahoma.
Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament
Madness 2017 Draft Rankings:
#2 Delanie Gourley