Five Gators Selected All Americans

Five University of Florida softball players have been named All Americans by Louisville Slugger and the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA). The five All-America selections ties with Arizona State as the most by any team in the country.

"I am overwhelmed with excitement for our program," Florida Head Coach Tim Walton said. "I am especially proud of each one of these young ladies."

Florida had two players, juniors Stacey Nelson and Ali Gardiner, named to the first team, two, freshman Aja Paculba and sophomore Francesca Enea, on the second team and junior Kim Waleszonia was named to the third team. This is the second NFCA All-America honor for both Nelson and Waleszonia as Nelson was named to the second team last season and Waleszonia to the third. Gardiner and Nelson are the first two first team All-Americans in school history. Prior to this season, Florida had only three All-Americans in school history, including Nelson, Waleszonia and former pitcher and recent Florida Athletics Hall of Fame inductee Chelsey Sakizzie.

Nelson, the Southeastern Conference Pitcher of the Year, was also named a CoSIDA First-Team Academic All-American earlier Wednesday. She is the first player in school history to earn both All-America and Academic All-America honors in the same season. Nelson enters Women's College World Series play with a 45-3 record and a 0.73 ERA with five saves. Each of her losses this season have been 1-0 losses and only one run in those losses was earned. This season she has set Florida single season records for wins (45), starts (44), complete games (40) and strikeouts (337). She is the career record holder for wins (93), saves (15), complete games (96), shutouts (36), innings pitched (820.2) and strikeouts (733). Nelson is also sharp defensively. She is just one assists from recording 100 assists on the season and is the only pitcher to be in Florida's top 10 career assists list.

"I am honored to be named an All-American, but even more excited four of my teammates earned it as well," Nelson said.

Gardiner is Florida's leading hitter with a .405 batting average a .625 slugging percentage and a .506 on base percentage. The Florida first baseman has reached base in all but five games this season and was only held hitless in 14 games. She leads the team with 17 doubles and 40 walks. She went on a season-long 12-game hit streak from April 20 to May 10. Her .405 average and her .506 on base percentage this season are the best single season clips in school history. In the field, she leads the team with 470 putouts on the season and has a .988 fielding percentage with only six error on the season. She has been a part of 18 of Florida's 21 double plays this year.

"I am still in shock to have received this honor," Gardiner said. "I am glad my personal success has helped my team's success."

Paculba, a second baseman, is the first freshman in school history to earn All America honors. She is Florida's third-leading hitter with a .340 batting average. She shares the team lead and the school record in runs scored with Waleszonia with 61 runs on the season. She has reached base in all but 10 games this season. At second she has a .969 fielding percentage with 121 put outs and 128 assists, while helping to turn 14 double plays. Paculba ranks in the top 10 of almost every Florida single season hitting record lists.

"I don't even know what to say," Paculba said. "I am excited to take this honor and use it to improve my play and help my team continue winning."

Enea is Florida's leading home run hitter this season with 15. After suffering an ACL tear last season, Enea has emerged as one of Florida's top power hitters in 2008. She leads the team with 60 RBI which ties the school record. She has also set the school single season record for sacrifice flies with six on the year. She leads the team with 18 game-winning RBI. She is hitting .338 on the season with a .613 slugging percentage and a .405 on base percentage.

"It is a great honor," Enea said. "I wouldn't have been able to do it without the help and support of my teammates."

Waleszonia, Florida's centerfielder, earned third team All-America honors as a second baseman last season. She has played three different positions in her three seasons at Florida. She is Florida's career record holder for batting average, runs and triples. She is only one stolen base from setting a new career record in that category. She leads the team in hits with 85 in 2008 and is just four from breaking the school record which she set last season. Thirty-four of her 85 hits on the season have been bunt singles. She shares the team lead in run scored this season with 61. She is second on the team with a .368 batting average and heads into the WCWS on a six-game hit streak.

"This is a real honor and I am very excited for all five of us," Waleszonia said. "I love being able to share this with my teammates."

Florida (67-3) opens the Women's College World Series at the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium against Louisiana-Lafayette in Oklahoma City, Okla. on Thursday at 1 p.m. The game will be televised live on ESPN and air live on WRUF AM 850 in Gainesville.

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