#3 Florida Softball 2019 Preview

Florida Gators
Overall Rank: #3
Conference Rank: #1 SEC
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Florida had another tremendous season in 2018. They won 56 games overall and went back to the Women’s College World Series, where they beat Georgia 11-3 and then dropped two tough games against UCLA and Oklahoma. The Gators will have a beautifully renovated Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium at the start of the 2019 season that will be second to none in college softball. Head Coach Tim Walton received a 10-year contract extension that will keep him in Gainesville until 2028, which means that Florida will be national title contender annually for a very long time.
2018: 56-11, 20-4
2018 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Tim Walton
Key Departed Players:
Nicole DeWitt, INF, .326 BA, 14 HR, 57 RBI
Kayli Kvistad, INF, .287 BA, 6 HR, 44 RBI
Janell Wheaton, C/INF, .262 BA, 4 HR, 28 RBI
Aleshia Ocasio, UTIL/P, .229 BA, 5 HR, 36 RBI, 1.45 ERA, 23-7 W/L, 164.1 IP, 21 BB, 192 SO
Key Returning Players:
Amanda Lorenz, OF, .416 BA, 11 HR, 61 RBI
Jaimie Hoover, OF, .311 BA, 4 HR, 22 RBI
Hannah Adams, INF, .276 BA, 3 HR, 33 RBI
Jordan Matthews, UTIL, .274 BA, 5 HR, 45 RBI
Sophia Reynoso, INF, .221 BA, 2 HR, 25 RBI
Kelly Barnhill, P, 1.08 ERA, 29-3 W/L, 214.1 IP, 76 BB, 324 SO
Natalie Lugo, P, 2.41 ERA, 2-0 W/L, 32.0 IP, 6 BB, 39 SO
Katie Chronister, P, 3.94 ERA, 2-1 W/L, 16.0 IP, 11 BB, 19 SO
The Gators will be led offensively by Amanda Lorenz, who should be in the conversation for National Player of the Year honors all season long. Lorenz hit .416 with 11 homeruns and 61 runs batted in last season. Plate discipline is another strength of Lorenz as she walked 70 times and only struck out 16 times in 178 at bats. Jamie Hoover had a strong 2018 season as she hit .311 with four homeruns and had an on-base percentage of .465. Kendyl Lindaman will take over at catcher after transferring from Minnesota during the offseason. Lindaman was the 2018 Big Ten Player of the Year and hit 20 homeruns, drove in 55 runs and hit .361 for the Golden Gophers last season. If Florida is going to get back to the WCWS Championship Series, they will need a big season out of Lindaman. Kelly Barnhill is back as the dominant ace for the Gators. In 2019. Barnhill’s numbers are eye popping as she struck out 324 batters in 214.1 innings and limited batters to a .119 average in 2018. However, Barnhill was not able to put UCLA away in the Women’s College World Series as the Bruins went off for five runs in the top of the 4th inning and all of them were unearned as Barnhill committed a critical error. It will be interesting to see how Barnhill responds when she makes a key mistake in the postseason after last year’s disappointment. Natalie Lugo and Kelly Chronister will need to take a bigger role in the circle to replace the lost productivity and experience of Aleshia Ocasio. Florida should win the SEC with 19 conference wins and find their way back to the Women’s College World Series with a great shot to get to the championship series.
Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament