The University of Florida softball team hosted “Gator Softball Swinging for Cancer” on Feb, 1 to raise money for the new UF Shands Cancer Hospital. Fans were invited to Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium to meet the 2009 Gator softball team, take pictures with Albert and hang out with the Gator cheerleaders. Kids ages 12 and under also participated in a mini-skills clinic put on the by the softball team.
Senior pitcher Stacey Nelson took to the pitching circle as Florida student-athletes and coaches tried their luck to hit off the All-American. Each Gator was given between two and three pitches. Making contact got one point, hitting it into the outfield was worth two and a slam over the fence was worth five. While many tried, no one managed an outfield hit off Nelson.
Some Gators did make some contact. Redshirt senior safety John Curtis was the only non-baseball player to garner two points off Nelson. Sophomore infielder Josh Adams, junior left-hander Matt denDekker and senior Avery Barnes also recorded two points as many of the baseball players went down swinging.
Head baseball coach Kevin O’Sullivan registered two points on foul balls, but could not hit anything into play. Head basketball coach Billy Donovan took his chances against Nelson, hitting his fifth pitch into the infield. Head softball coach Tim Walton was the high scorer with three points as he fouled one off and hit two more into fair territory.
Nelson left 10 batters walking away shaking their heads as they could not connect with a single pitch. Seven participants recorded one point, including former gymnast Nicola Willis and sophomore safety Ahmad Black, who both hit fair balls into the infield. Willis’ grounder went up the middle and past Le-Net Franklin, who lost her shoe chasing the ball.
Fans ended the day with an autograph session with the softball players. Many took home pledge cards to fill out to help UF Shands Cancer Hospital. The Gators will release the amount they raised as the donations come in.