Softball Season One of UF's Best Ever

Certainly nothing compares with winning a NCAA title, but the Gator softball team just finished one of the greatest non-national championship seasons in school history. Tim Walton's team re-wrote the school record book, broke the NCAA record for wins in a season and came within one run of playing in the finals of the College World Series.

The 2008 Gators accomplished more than any Florida softball team before and has raised the bar for this program for years to come. The Gators won the SEC regular season championship and tournament title as well. They set a school record with a 37-game winning streak, hosted a Super Regional for the first time, and won a Super Regional for the first time as well.

All of Florida's losses came by one run and four of those losses were in extra inning. Think about that for a second, Florida played 75 games and after the regulation seven innings they either won or were tied every game but one. Of all the accomplishments of this team, that might be the most amazing of all.

In just three years Tim Walton has taken Florida from a nice little program that was competitive to a legit national power. Certainly some credit needs to go to Karen Johns who signed senior Mary Ratliff and most of the Gators' exceptional junior class, but it's Walton who took this program to another level in record time. The Gators broke the school record for wins last year and reached the Super Regional for the first time. This year they shattered virtually every meaningful school record and finished third in the nation.

Next year Florida will be a powerhouse again with only Ratliff departing from the roster. Youngsters Kelsey Bruder and Kristine Priebe will challenge veteran Brooke Johnson in the battle for that spot in the lineup and incoming freshmen will get a shot as well. Florida softball is on the national map, and it's not going away anytime soon.

Tomorrow we'll take a look at the season by the numbers and all the records that this team set, many of which may never be seriously challenged.

Questions or comments? Contact's Larry Vettel

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