#11 Florida Softball Preview

Florida Gators

Overall Rank: #11
Conference Rank: #5 SEC
Florida College Softball Top 44 Team Preview
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The Florida Gators and Head Coach Tim Walton continued to be one of the best teams in the country in 2012 finishing third in the SEC regular season.  Walton enters his eighth year at the Florida helm where he has led the blue and orange to seven straight seasons of 43 or more wins, reached the NCAA post season every year, made it to five Super Regionals and earned four trips to the Women’s College World Series.  The 2012 team was outstanding statistically again, ranking nationally in a number of defensive and offensive categories including:  ERA (7th, 1.46), fielding percentage (17th, .974), home runs per game (19th, 1.11) and slugging (15th, .482).  Though 2012 ended in tumultuous fashion with the departure of Sami Fagan, Kasey Fagan and Cheyenne Coyle, Coach Walton, the fastest SEC Coach to 500 wins, is cautiously optimistic about 2013, “We are very young but athletic.  We should have a very good defense, solid pitching, but offensively we are just young and may struggle at times.”  The inexperienced Gators will take on 17 teams that reached the tournament last year, six that reached the World Series.  Though Florida does not play Alabama, Missouri or Texas A&M in league play, the Gators will travel to Tuscaloosa for a single game against the Tide and square off against Missouri in Palm Springs.

2012: 48-13, 21-7
2012 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Tim Walton, 8th Season

Field Players:
Senior Kelsey Horton will move from being the everyday catcher to right field full time.  The All-SEC performer hit .329 in 2012, hammering 13 home runs, driving in 43.  She slugged .645.  Bailey Castro will fill the DH spot.  In limited action last season she hit six home runs.  Walton said, “When she is healthy, she can display a lot of power.”  Sophomore shortstop Katie Medina returns after a freshman campaign where she made 46 starts and hit .241.

Coach Walton commented about his staff, “We have a good pitching staff with a veteran in Hannah Rogers, but will need sophomores Alyssa Bache and Lauren Haeger to be instrumental if our team is going to sustain success.  Hannah Rogers, two-time All-American pitcher, should be our number one pitcher and has done a great job of competing for us in the past, she is a work horse.”  Rogers, a junior, ranked sixth nationally in 2012 with a 1.23 ERA.  She won 28 games. Haeger earned All-Region honors last season, posting a 1.91 ERA.  She was 15-5, making 19 starts, tossing 11 complete games.  Additionally, she is one of the Gators best offensive weapons, hitting .321 with 14 home runs and 52 RBI, both were tops on the team.  Bache was 5-0 with a 1.39 ERA in 13 appearances.

Who to Watch:
Coach Walton brings in some highly touted freshmen and a transfer from Northern Illinois.  Freshman Kelsey Stewart was the number two recruit on the 2012 ESPN Top 100 Recruit List and an NFCA High School All-American.  Stewart is an infielder who bats from the left, has tremendous speed and hits with power to all fields.  Freshman Taylore Fuller was number 38 on the 2012 ESPN Top 100 Recruit List and is a two-time NFCA High School All-American.  She was the 2012 Florida Dairy Farmers 1A Player of the Year among her many other honors.  Junior transfer Stephanie Tofft adds versatility with the ability to play many positions.  She hit .379 at Northern Illinois in 2012 and was All-Conference and All-Region as a freshman.

Final Projection:
The return of Rogers in the circle gives the Gators a solid foundation for 2013.  Haeger, Horton and Castro will provide some pop on offense and leadership for the new faces on the Florida roster.  Stewart and Fuller should be able to contribute at the plate.  The tough early schedule should get the Gators ready for the difficult SEC where they should again complete for a top spot in the SEC East.  Coach Walton’s team will no doubt reach the SEC Tournament and their eighth straight NCAA Tournament.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Lauren Haeger, P/1B, 168
Hits: Lauren Haeger, P/1B, 54
Home Runs: Lauren Haeger, P/1B, 14
RBIs: Lauren Haeger, P/1B, 52
Runs: Kelsey Horton, OF, 29
Stolen Bases: Kelsey Horton, OF, 3

Wins: Hannah Rogers, P/1B, 28
Innings Pitched: Hannah Rogers, P/1B, 228.1
Strikeouts: Hannah Rogers, P/1B, 202
Saves: Hannah Rogers, P/1B, 4

Madness 2013 NPF Draft Rankings:
#13 Brittany Schutte

Madness 2013 Softball Recruit Rankings:
#4 Kelsey Stewart
#45 Taylore Fuller
#48 Aubree Munro


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