GAINESVILLE, Fla. – University of Florida head softball coach Tim Walton, assistants Jennifer Rocha and Jenny Gladding, and student assistant Kristen Butler were recognized by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association as the Southeast Region Coaching Staff of the Year.
In just his second season with the Gators, Walton, who oversees all functions of the program and works primarily with the Gator outfielders and hitters, guided the Gator hitters to set school records for home runs (49), total bases (729) and stolen bases (129). His hitting expertise helped establish sophomore Kim Waleszonia (Fontana, Calif.) as a triple-threat hitter, earning her NFCA/Louisville Slugger and Easton All-America honors. Walton’s outfielders committed only four errors on the season, including perfect fielding percentages from sophomore Brooke Johnson (Lakeland, Fla.) and junior Mary Ratliff (Mt. Sterling, Ky.), for a .977 fielding percentage, contributing to Florida’s overall school-record breaking .975 fielding percentage.
Rocha is Florida’s pitching coach. She helped the Gator pitching staff to school records for lowest ERA (1.40), lowest opponent batting average
(.207), wins (50) and shutouts (26). Rocha worked with sophomore All-American Stacey Nelson (Los Alamitos, Calif.) who set many individual single season records, including wins and strikeouts, and senior Stacey Stevens (Gainesville, Fla.) who holds many of Florida’s career pitching records.
Gladding works primarily with the Gator infielders. She helped the Gator defense set school records for fielding percentage (.975), chances
(2205), double plays (26) and fewest errors (55). The Gator infield had new players at every position in 2007 except for shortstop. Assisted by Gladding, senior Melissa Zick (Tampa, Fla.) successfully made the tradition from first to third, sophomore Ali Gardiner (Waccabuc, N.Y.) set the single season record for double plays turned and senior Lauren Roussell (Cerritos, Calif.) set the single season record for assists, while committing only nine errors on the season, the fewest of any other season in her career.
The 2007 Gators finished the season with a 50-22 record, the first 50-win season in school history. The Gators advanced to NCAA Super Regional play for the first time in school history and found themselves just one game away from the College World Series. Along the way the Gators earned three wins over the top team in the country, finished second in the SEC East and fourth overall, advanced to the SEC Tournament Championships game for the first time since the program’s inaugural season in 1997 and made it through NCAA Regional play without giving up a run. Nelson and Waleszonia each earned NFCA/Louisville Slugger and Easton All-America honors. Nelson, Waleszonia and Zick were named All-SEC and named to the SEC All-Tournament team. Freshman Francesca Enea (Woodland Hills, Calif.) was named to the SEC All-Freshman team. The Gators were recognized as one of four Easton Teams of the Year.
In addition to their on the field accomplishments, nine Gators earned SEC Academic Honor Roll accolades, sophomore Brittany Handy
(Gainesville, Fla.), sophomore Kristina Hilberth (Dunedin, Fla.), Johnson, sophomore Savana Kelly (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.), Nelson, Ratliff, Stevens, Waleszonia and Zick. Stevens earned second-team CoSIDA Academic All-District III honors and was awards the SEC Brad Davis Community Service Scholarship. Ratliff was named to the SEC Good Works team and the entire Gator team volunteered many hours of community service through Children’s Miracle Network, Shands and Shands at AGH, March of Dimes GatorWalk and the Office of Student Life’s Goodwill Gators program.
The NFCA awards coaching staff of the year honors in each of its eight regions. The regional winners are voted on by the coaches in that region. A national coaching staff of the year is then selected by the NFCA. Arizona was named the National Coaching Staff of the Year after taking the Women’s College World Series title. A complete listing of the regional winners is below. This is the first Southeast Region Coaching Staff of the Year honor for the Gator staff in the 11-year history of the program.
Pacific Region and National Coaching Staff of the Year Arizona – Head Coach Mike Candrea; Assistant Coaches Larry Ray, Nancy Evans and Dave Feinberg; Student Assistant Alicia Hollowell
Great Lakes Region Ohio State – Head Coach Linda Kalafatis; Assistant Coaches Ali Viola and Erica Beach; Volunteer Assistant Kim Doran
Mid-Atlantic Region (tie) Hofstra – Head Coach Bill Edwards; Associate Head Coach Larissa Anderson; Assistant Coach Ryan Realmuto
Long Island – Head Coach Roy Kortmann; Assistant Coaches Bill Gehrke and Margie Masters
Mideast Region DePaul – Head Coach Eugene Lenti; Assistant Coaches – Liz Bouck and Lindsay Chouinard
Midwest Region Baylor – Head Coach Glenn Moore; Associate Head Coach Mark Lumley; Assistant Coaches Britni Sneed and Jimmy Hubble
Northeast Region Virginia Tech – Head Coach Scot Thomas; Assistant Coaches Al Brauns and Tiffany McVay; Volunteer Assistant Alan Bayse
South Region Tennessee – Co-Head Coaches Ralph and Karen Weekly; Assistant Coach Marty McDaniel; Volunteer Assistant Stephanie Humphrey-Sayne
Southeast Region Florida – Head Coach Tim Walton; Assistant Coaches Jennifer Rocha and Jenny Gladding; Student Assistant – Kristen Butler
West Region Hawaii – Head Coach Bob Coolen; Assistant Coaches John Nakamura and Dee Wisneski