Gator Softball Amazing

Most of Gator Nation has been focused on the NCAA Hoops situation and Florida's status on and off the bubble. Others may have noticed that Kevin O'Sullivan's Gator Baseball team is off to a very good start. As a result many of you probably don't know about the hottest team on campus.

The Gator Softball team has been phenomenal since opening day and just finished a three-game sweep at Arkansas. Tim Walton's Gators have an incredible 31-2 record and have won seven of eight SEC contests to begin the conference race. The Gators are performing in every aspect of the game, and have the look of a team that might exceed last year's appearance in a Super Regional.

It Starts in the Circle

There is one absolute in fast pitch softball. You must have excellent pitching to have any chance. Florida has that with the tandem of junior Stacey Nelson and freshman Stephanie Brombacher.

Nelson earned All American honors in 2007 with 34 wins and 285 strikeouts. This season she is already 19-2 with two saves and an ERA below one. Nelson has registered 177 strikeouts in 141 1/3 innings.

Brombacher is from American Heritage School in Plantation; the same school that produced incoming basketball freshman Eloy Vargas. Brombacher is a perfect 11-0 and has relieved a lot of pressure from Nelson.

Offense is Good, Too

Florida is hitting am impressive .305 on the season, led by junior Kim Waleszonia (.385, 0, 11). Waleszonia is as good a leadoff hitter as there is in the country with a .452 on-base percentage and is perfect on 15 stolen base attempts. Other veterans contributing at the plate include Ali Gardiner (.348, 2, 20), Mary Ratliff (.344, 7, 29) and Francesca Enea (.273, 6, 22).

The rookies have been more than up to the challenge of transitioning to the college level. The newcomers are led by Tiffany DeFelice (.366, 6, 18), Aja Paculba (.323, 1, 21) and Megan Bush (.274, 4, 16).

Overall Florida has hit 27 homers while allowing just five. The Gators more than tripled their opponents in extra base hits (69-to-22) and have stolen almost five times as many bases (59-12).

Walton is in his third season and you have to be wowed by what he's accomplished in that time. His 124-49 record is impressive enough, but the future looks even better with just one senior (Ratliff) on this team. Walton's Gators play their next eleven games at home from March 19th thru April 2nd. You owe it to yourself to check ‘em out.

Questions or comments? Contact's Larry Vettel

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