“Florida Gators Seek To Repeat As National Softball Champs” Written By Bill Plummer
It’s been awhile since a team has repeated as NCAA national softball champion. In fact, the last team to repeat was the Arizona Wildcats, who won consecutive titles in 2006-2007.
Now current national champion Florida will have a chance to become the first team since then to repeat. The Gators were impressive in winning the SEC’s second national softball championship and the first in school history. They jelled at the right time after finishing in a tie for third in the SEC with a 15-9 record, but were 10-1 in the NCAA Tournament. The Gators are 59-32 overall in NCAA Tournament play.Head coach Tim Walton begins his tenth season with an impressive record of 492-117 (.812 winning percentage) and is 615-178 overall for a winning percentage of .776.
The Gators have won 50 games or more six times under Walton’s leadership. Walton is 52-22 (.711) in the NCAA Tournament as head coach while the Florida program moved to 29-18 (.617) in Regional play, 13-3 (.813) in Super Regional play and 17-11 (.707) in WCWS play.
The Gators have won six SEC East titles and three SEC tourney titles since the university added softball to its program in 1997 and have compiled an overall record of 853 wins and 351 losses for a winning percentage of .708.
On paper the Gators look impressive with eight of nine starters returning and 14 letter-winners back. Six newcomers complete the roster for what could be another excellent season and bring another softball title to Gainesville. But what the Gators do on the field of play will determine what kind of year they will have.
On Jan. 31, the Gators held an open practice at Katie Seashold Pressly Stadium to give fans a chance to watch a scrimmage, receive autographs and participate in family-friendly activities. The practice was from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Posters and schedule cards were passed out along with 2015 rosters. Free pizza and drinks were provided to the first 150 fans. Six seniors are on the 20 person roster with the season opener February 6-8 in the UCF Tournament.
Gator Softball fans will have more chances than ever before to see their team on television during the 2015 season. Florida will make 12 appearances on national television and will have 15 games streamed on SEC Network+, as announced by the Southeastern Conference and ESPN. This marks a significant increase from 2014, when five regular-season Gator games were broadcast on national television.
But winning a national title helps in more ways than one and getting additional TV exposure is one of them.