A league-leading four University of Florida softball players were selected to the 2011 Preseason All-SEC Team, announced by the conference office Wednesday. Seniors Kelsey Bruder, Megan Bush and Aja Paculba led the way for the Orange and Blue, while sophomore Brittany Schutte was selected at the designated player spot. Alabama and Georgia each had three Preseason All-SEC selections, while Tennessee had two and Kentucky tallied one. Paculba made her third-consecutive appearance on the preseason list, while Bruder was named for the second-consecutive season.
A 2009 NFCA/Louisville Slugger Second Team All-American, Bruder has twice been named to the All-SEC team, while collecting ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America Third Team honors last season. The senior has been named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll twice and was an ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District III selection in both 2009 and 2010. Bruder enters the 2011 season riding a nine-game hit streak and ranks first in the Florida record books in career batting clip (.343) and slugging percentage (.669). Bruder tied for second in the SEC with 17 doubles and 131 total bases last season.
Bush, a two-time ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District III and three-time SEC Academic Honor Roll selection, was named to the 2010 SEC All-Tournament team and was additionally a 2009 and 2010 All-SEC selection. Bush was selected to the 2009 Women’s College World Series All-Tournament Team and was also a 2009 and 2010 NFCA All-Southeast Region pick. She broke Florida’s career sacrifice flies record (12) last season and has climbed to second in the career record book for home runs, with 44, while additionally tying the UF single-season sacrifice flies record (6) and leading the conference with 17 fielded double plays in 2010.
Last season, Paculba was named to the SEC All-Defensive team for the third-straight season. Paculba was additionally an All-SEC and All-Southeast Region Second Team honoree, and has been working her way to the top of the Florida record books during her tenure as a Gator, last year eclipsing the UF career runs scored record with 188 in three years as a Gator. Paculba additionally tied the record for the longest hit streak in program history (16 games), holds the best career on-base percentage (.459) and ranks second-best in career batting average (.341).
As just a freshman last season, Schutte made an immediate impact for the Gators, establishing a new Florida single-season slugging percentage record (.780) and shattering or tying six UF freshman records, including home runs (19), RBI (59), slugging percentage (.780), on-base percentage (.457), batting average (.346) and sacrifice flies (4). Schutte was named to the 2010 Women’s College World Series All-Tournament Team and was one of five players to hit at least three home runs at the WCWS. For her efforts her inaugural campaign, she earned All-Southeast Region First Team and SEC All-Freshman team honors.
The Preseason All-SEC Team consists of a minimum of 12 players. Each SEC head softball coach voted for four infielders, four outfielders, two pitchers, one catcher and one dp/utility player. No ties were broken.
In a class-by-class breakdown, the 2011 Preseason All-SEC team consists of only seniors and sophomores. A record nine seniors and four sophomores compile the team, marking the first time no juniors were selected.
On Tuesday, the Gators were picked as the No. 5 team in the country in both the USA Today/NFCA and ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 polls. Florida was additionally voted to finish third in the SEC Eastern Division in the 2011 annual coaches preseason poll. The season kicks off for the Gators Feb. 11-13 in Tampa, Fla., at the USF Wilson DeMarini Tournament.