In the 2018 SEC Softball Preseason Coach’s Poll Wednesday, Florida placed on top of the SEC after receiving 11 first place votes.
This SEC ranking should come as no surprise. Last year, Florida held a 20-3 conference record. The top five in this year’s poll also included Tennessee, Texas A&M, LSU and Alabama.
Although the Gator’s softball season is still three weeks away, this poll should give the team the momentum they need. The Gators will be seeking their fourth regular season SEC championship this season. They’re also on the hunt for their first Women’s College World Series win since 2015. Last year, the team nearly had the win locked down, until Oklahoma swooped in and won the title.
Gators Head Coach Tim Walton will have his roster stacked this season. Kelly Barnhill is a returning pitcher that claimed multiple awards like the 2017 USA Softball Collegiate National Player of the Year and the 2017 Honda Sport Award. Walton will also see key players returning including Aleshia Ocasio, Kayli Kvistad and Jordan Roberts.
The biggest thing the Gators can watch out for is the Tennessee Volunteers. They were ranked second in the poll, and are predicted to give Florida a run for their money when it comes to the SEC title. During their 20-game winning streak last season, The Vols saw 16 wins and 7 losses in their SEC play. Expect that to improve this season.
SEC softball begins February 8. Florida’s first at-bat will be against Illinois State on February 9th in Tampa for the UCF Wilson-Demarini tournament.