Discussion in 'Diamond Gators' started by ocalaman, Feb 20, 2022.
D1 Gator Fall Report:
2023 Fall Report: Florida Gators
Can you post the article?
Yeah, unless you're a D1 Softball subscriber you can only see the first 6 lines of the article.
Brown was named the 2023 Gatorade Best Female Athlete after earning National Softball Gatorade Player of the Year honors. She is the back-to-back Texas Gatorade Player of the Year
Rothrock preceded Brown as National Gatorade Softball Player of the Year. She is a three-time Indiana Gatorade Player of the Year selection.
The Gators expect to encounter a few bumps and growing pains with the young arms, but feel confident they have enough experience around them to help ease the transition.
“We are only as good as our pitching. That is probably an understatement for every program in the country,” Walton said. “We can hit, we can play defense, we’re athletic, we can steal bases and hit home runs. There are so many things we can do. But at the end of the day, you have to have your pitchers pitch big in the big games.”
Florida finished 38-22 and 11-13 in the SEC (8th place) last season. The Gators lost to Stanford in the NCAA regional.
In the circle, they graduated Elizabeth Hightower and Rylee Trliceck, while Lexie Delbrey transferred to Louisiana.
Rothrock and Brown are joined on the pitching staff by fellow newcomers Olivia Miller, a freshman left-hander from Florida, and Mackenzie Wooten, a graduate transfer from the University of Virginia.
The entirely new staff has a new pitching coach. Chelsey Dobbins was hired by the Gators after spending the last eight seasons at the University of North Carolina. She replaces Mike Bosch.
“Moving on from Mike was probably one of the tougher decisions I’ve made in my career,” Walton said. “But Chelsea has a lot of really good insight and really good perspective of not only the pitching staff and running an offense, but on developing young players and building relationships.”
Given the turnover and new additions to the program, Walton was heartened by a recent interaction as the fall season concluded.
“I had a parent say to me the other day, ‘It’s good to see you guys are getting better every day. Every time I see you, you are getting better and better,’” Walton said. “That stands out to me, because sometimes when you are in the trenches you don’t know what everybody sees or thinks.”
Florida fans may need to bring a roster to the first few games of the season.
The Gators have 11 new players in the program: seven freshmen and four transfers.
Leading the transfer class are sophomore catcher Jocelyn Erickson and junior outfielder Korbe Otis.
Erickson arrives from the University of Oklahoma after helping the Sooners win another national title last season. The Arizona native made 32 starts at OU, batting .337 with 32 RBIs and 25 runs scored. She is expected to start behind the plate for the Gators and bat third or fourth in the lineup.
“She is very intense, very competitive and super, super, super talented. She is the next transfer All-American at Florida,” Walton said. “I wake up every morning thankful for her being here.”
Otis transferred from Louisville, where she started all 108 career games for the Cardinals. Otis batted .414 last season with seven triples and 63 runs scored.
The Colorado native, who is studying for her Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), will provide even more speed to the Florida lineup, having stolen 23 bases in 24 attempts.
Florida has adopted some of Otis’ hitting and strength and conditioning methods.
“She is a solid worker and very competitive,” Walton said. “I like the way she has challenged a bit of the process and brought some different ideas here.”
Wooten and junior Brooke Barnard round out the Florida transfers.
Rothrock and Brown spearhead a freshman signing class that was ranked No. 1 in the country by most publications.
Both are two-way standouts, providing strong offense to accompany their pitching prowess.
“Keagan’s swing and miss rate is pretty high. She has lived on her spin rate and the way her pitches move,” Walton said. “She throws three speeds, and when you are talking three speeds, that is a pretty good indication of the kind of kid she is going to be.”
Brown and Miller are more pitch-to-contact throwers.
“Ava is a big-time competitor. She is learning how to give up runs early in the game and figure out how to overcome that late in the innings,” Walton said. “I don’t think any of the freshman will have an ERA under 1.00. It will take them a while to get used to things and deal with some failure and adversity. But they are definitely working hard and embracing the challenge.”
Freshman Ariel “AK” Kowalewski will likely start at third base with graduate assistant coach Charla Echols serving as a mentor. She can also spell Erickson at catcher.
Freshman Mia Williams will likely start at second base and backup redshirt senior All-American Skylar Wallace at shortstop.
Freshman Alyssa Hovermale provides depth off the bench at the corner infield spots, and freshman outfielder Cassidy McLellan has “some crazy power” and can bunt and slap.
“Our seniors and kids who have been here a long time told me they really like our freshmen,” Walton said. “They work so hard and they compete so hard and they learn really fast. I think we as coaches can learn a lot from our players. I don’t take their opinion for granted.”
Producing runs shouldn’t be a problem for the Gators. They return some key offensive weapons and added even more power and speed.
Walton pointed to their fall game against UCF as a preview of what to expect. Erickson drove in three runs and Wallace and junior Kendra Falby each drove in two.
“For us to be really good this year, I would say those three names have to have really good years for us,” Walton said. “They have to be the engine for us if we are going to be able to score a lot of runs. But there are a lot more parts around this team.”
Wallace is coming off a phenomenal season.
She was the only player in the nation with 65 or more hits, 70 or more runs, 55 or more RBIs, 50 or more walks and 30 or more stolen bases.
The SEC Player of the Year and USA Softball Player of the Year finalist set school single-season records for batting average (.447), slugging percentage (.980) and on-base percentage (.595). She reached base safely in an eye-popping 55 of 56 games played.
Wallace had seven doubles, eight triples, 19 home runs, 55 RBIs and 72 runs scored while stealing 30 bases in 31 attempts.
“She came back very hungry and determined and very passionate about wanting to win and get better,” Walton said. “She was frustrated and didn’t feel she performed the way she wanted to during the fall. She thought it was just OK. OK? She had a .700 on-base percentage.”
The speedy Falby is “as good as she’s been,” Walton said. “She better in all parts of her game.” Falby hit .403 with a team-leading 75 hits and stole 27 bases in 30 attempts last season.
Junior Reagan Walsh will be back in the middle of the order after batting .310 with 11 doubles, eight home runs and 49 RBIs last season.
The Gators are hoping to have redshirt senior Baylee Goddard back to full health this season. Goddard his .333 in seven games last season. During fall exit meetings, Walton said a Florida player offered to give up 100 at-bats for Goddard.
“She is basically our team captain. She is somebody everybody listens to,” he said. “Her tone, demeanor and work ethic really set the standard. How she handles failure and how she handles success is great model for others.”
Seniors Avery Goelz (.270, nine doubles, 27 RBIs), Katie Kistler (.258) and Emily Wilkie (.263) bring valuable experience to the lineup.
“From a development standpoint, every one of our players has gotten a little bit better from things they weren’t as good at last season,” Walton said. “They have gotten stronger and are hitting the ball more consistently.”
Florida will be very strong up the middle with Erickson at catcher, Wallace at shortstop and Falby in center field.
Williams is expected to start at second with Walsh as the backup. Goelz should start at first, with Erickson and Walsh as options.
Kowalewski will look to take over at third as a rookie, with sophomore Kaila Pollard, Barnard and Hovermale in the rotation.
Otis will be in left field. Kistler, Goddard, McLellan and Pollard will see time in right field.
The DP spot may not get utilized as much with this roster given the ability of the pitchers to hit.
“One thing about this team is it doesn’t have a plus-defender who can’t hit,” Walton said. “Like in 2014 when we had Lauren Haeger who could hit for herself and we brought in another hitter. We don’t have that on this team right now.”
Dobbins wasn’t the only new addition to the coaching staff. The Gators are welcoming back former three-time All-American Francesca Enea as an assistant coach.
Both are mothers with college playing experience.
“It’s been a really noticeable impact. Those are two very special, very talented, very professional and very organized females to have in our program for our athletes,” Walton said. “My wife has been that for a lot of our athletes, and I think with the combination of my wife, Chelsea and Francesca, we have just added a whole other layer for our athletes to have someone to talk to and listen to when are away from home.”
See #3844 above.
Thank you for the article and my favorite take away is we now have young mothers on the staff that can talk to and relate to the girls on the team. It was a nice word from Tim about Mike but it should have been a very easy decision on him. Thank goodness no more 50+ year old guys talking to 18 to 22 year old young women!!
I've heard very differently about the future lineups. I think D1 just repeated what they saw in the fall. Regardless we will see what happens. I'm hoping for good things!
What? Walton is 50+, does he have to resign? I guess Mouse Holloway needs to give back those national championship trophies for the womens team, he's well over 60 for god's sake. Anthony Nesty is building a monster....too bad he can't talk to his swimmers any longer.
What a crazy statement. I want the best coaches regardless of age or gender. Of course a womens team needs a female presence on staff in some capacity, something UF has had. But such a sweeping statement is absurd, there are countless male coaches that do a wonderful job in womens sports.
The best asset that Francesca brings as a coach is that she understands and knows the Gator way under Tim. She will be able to related to our young women and assist Tim into molding them in being Florida Gators.
It could be a Rollercoaster but the ceiling is very high.
I had no clue Charla was back as a graduate assistant coach. She will be good for the program. I like it.
APK - sorry I did not make my thought clearer about the All Male coaching staff. As a friend of a half dozen parents from last years team, please believe me when I say that all of them are very pleased we have a couple of positive FEMALE coaches and roll models. No I don't want to fire Mouse as he is arguably our best coach. As for Nesty notice he hired a young female world champion as an assistant but also someone who can and does relate to females. My point was just no matter how good a male coach is, a female does not talk to Dad first but to Mom. As a father of 4 daughters. 9 granddaughters and only 1 grandson I do have first hand knowledge of this fact. I believe Scrappy, 1990 Gator and Sandman can back this up. The best news is we are less than 85 days until the first pitch!!
Had to laugh when when TW said he didn't think any of his freshman pitchers would have an ERA this season of under 1.00. Fact...65 girls in the SEC pitched 10 innings or more last year and Ashley Rogers was the only one to have an ERA under 1.00. He didn't say they couldn't, he said he didn't think they would. His statement was almost tongue in cheek. TW knows what he has and he knows they are very good. This season is going to be one of the most fun and exciting seasons in years.
Yeah....agree there definitely needs to be a female presence on staff, I think we are all on the same page there. FYI Katie Ledecky was only a volunteer and is no longer with the staff
I take all of these articles with a huge grain of salt. Their value is extremely questionable. Notice that Lefty was never mentioned except for being coupled with others in a one sentence throw in. And thinks she will have to do mop up time in right field if ever on the field at all. Pure B.S. with clearly only canned knowledge, if that, at what this team really is or might be. Basically, not worth much more than fish wrapper other than a couple quotes.
The days of volunteer coaches have ended, given the antitrust lawsuit and NCAA reaction to that.
I don't know who will start but im stoked we will have a lineup good from top to bottom. That will weigh on any pitherwho does not have an easy at bat to look forward to.
Agree. I have heard Barnard is very much in play, she is barely mentioned. Goelz and Wilkes also ... barely mentioned. Several of the players heavily featured got few if any hits in Fall. I have heard is the lineup is still very much undecided. But that speaks well for the talent IMO. Looking forward to season.
Since there is not much discussion this time of year, I pose the following question to my fellow posters for something to talk about. Will Jordy Bahl and Nebraska have a better winning percentage than the mighty Gators and which team will go the furthest in the NCAA tournament?
Interesting question. I'm a big Jordy fan, but can she carry Nebraska? Will she need to carry Neb? I watched all the UF Fall games. The 23/24 Gators are stronger than they've been in awhile. Very deep offensively and defensively. We have young pitchers, and while I don't believe they will have to carry the team, they will need to perform consistently. Based on what I've seen I think the Gators will go further.