Softball Faces Major Challenge

The good news for the Gator softball team is that they might get senior centerfielder Kim Waleszonia back for post-season play. The bad news is that the Florida will have to play 35 games without their offensive sparkplug.

It's a major challenge for Coach Tim Walton and his second ranked squad, but don't bet against them being up to it. Florida didn't get to be 19-2 on the strength of Waleszonia alone.

There's no overstating how important Waleszonia has been to this program in her four years at Florida. She's Florida's all-time leader in runs, (164) hits (265), stolen bases (65) and triples (17). Her career batting average (.346) is currently second behind teammate Ali Gardiner (.354).

Plenty of Talent Remains

Even without Waleszonia Florida still presents a formidable lineup. Francesca Enea (.492 7, 32) and Gardiner (.397 2, 16) head up a strong contingent that includes Aja Paculba (.356 4, 14), Kelly Bruder (.333 4, 18) and Megan Bush (.325 4, 18).

Walton has several options when it comes to replacing Waleszonia, but the most likely scenario appears to involve giving freshman Michelle Moultrie from Mandarin an opportunity to claim the job. Moultrie has unreal speed and has been pretty productive (.304 1, 3 w/ 6 SB) in limited playing time (23 AB) to this point. Veteran Brooke Johnson could also see increased opportunities.

The thing Florida knows is that it doesn't need a whole lot of offense to win anyway. When you have pitchers like Stacey Nelson (9-2, 0.39) and Stephanie Brombacher (10-0, 0.95) in the circle your hitters can be pretty relaxed at the plate. Florida has allowed just 18 runs in 21 games and both Gator losses came by 1-0 scores.

Schedule Cooperates

The Gators get a break from the schedule this year with the top contenders in the SEC all visiting Gainesville. Florida will host No. 12 Georgia for a doubleheader on March 11th. No. 7 Tennessee visits Gainesville March 21-22. Fourth-ranked Alabama comes in the following weekend. The only ranked team Florida has to face on the road is No. 22 LSU in Baton Rouge April 18-19.

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