For the Gators, a trip to Oklahoma City this May is the goal. For Team USA, a trip to Tokyo this July is imminent. But before either team goes anywhere, they will meet on the dirt of Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium on Tuesday night — the home of the Florida Gators and the former-home of three Team USA representatives.
While it hasn’t been long since former-Gators Michelle Moultrie, Aubree Munro and Kelsey Stewart graced the diamond in Gainesville, it’s been long enough. And the three are excited about their return.
Michelle Moultrie sported the orange and blue from 2009-12. Found in centerfield, Moultrie holds four season records at UF: highest batting average (.443), on-base percentage (.519), triples (5) and stolen bases (31).
Behind home plate from 2013-16, Aubree Munro helped the Gators to back-to-back titles in 2014 and 2015. In the 2015 season, Munro had a flawless season with no errors in 354 chances.
Coming to and leaving Gainesville at the same time as Munro, Kelsey Stewart also played major roles in the Gators’ championships in ’14 and ’15. Stewart holds the individual records at UF for most hits (357), most runs scored (259) and most at-bats (914).
The National Team has been comfortable in Florida in recent weeks. As part of their “Stand Beside Her Tour”, games in Tampa and Clearwater were the first stops of the tour. And Tuesday’s trip to Gainesville wraps up the team’s time in the Sunshine State.
Gators helping Gators
Tuesday’s matchup presents something special for Florida’s Tim Walton. In his 15th year at the helm of Florida softball, Walton coached all three of the homeward bound Gator Olympians. Walton helped coach them, develop them and mold them into the softball players they are today. And though they have graduated, Walton’s helping-hand remains outstretched.
What to expect:
Tuesday’s game won’t be the first time the Gators host an exhibition of the sorts. Last season, in the inaugural game of the renovated KSP Stadium, Florida hosted Japan’s National Team. And though an 8-0 loss to Japan humbled the Gators, there was still a lot to take away from the experience.
“It’s really fun to compete against a team like that,” Florida’s Amanda Lorenz said after the loss to Japan last season.
“Those are probably the best hitters were going to see all year,” Kelly Barnhill added. ” If you can hold your own against them, you can pretty much hold your own against anybody.”
Obviously, this year’s Gator squad isn’t the same as last season. Florida doesn’t have Lorenz or Barnhill on the roster, but per usual, Walton is still able to bring talent to the diamond.
After a weekend in Tampa at the USF-Rawlings Invitational, the Gators opened their season 4-1. In their opening game of the season, Natalie Lugo got the start in the circle and dished 11 Ks. Florida’s lone-loss came in a catastrophic fashion with an 11-2 loss to Michigan. Despite the day-two loss, the Gators were able to rebound well. Newcomers Charla Echols (transfer) and Rylee Trlicek (freshman) each met their preseason expectations on opening weekend.
— Gators Softball (@GatorsSB) February 10, 2020
Echols posted a .467 batting average in the opening weekend and contributed a two-bagger, two home runs and helped seven Gators cross home plate. Meanwhile, lefty pitcher Trlicek recorded her first collegiate no-hitter in a five-inning game against Georgia State.
Expect everyone to get reps in Tuesday’s exhibition. Walton puts a weight on his younger players gaining meaningful experience. And what better way to do so than throwing them into the fire against Team USA.