The Florida Gator softball team (11-0) looks to continue its fast start this weekend in the University of Florida Aquafina Invitational at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium. The teams that will be competing alongside Florida are Kansas, Liberty, Illinois State, and Mercer.
The Gators can accredit their early success in large part to their pitching staff. Senior Lauren Haeger, sophomore Delanie Gourley, and freshman Aleshia Ocasio have combined for a 0.32 earned run average, 108 strikeouts in 65 total innings, and an opponent on-base percentage of .186. Gator head coach Tim Walton, however, believes the weekend is going to bring challenge to his team.
“It is going to be tough. I believe it. K-U has gone out and played some good softball. Illinois State had some good games against Oklahoma this past weekend. Liberty beat Arkansas the other day.”
Junior second baseman Kelsey Stewart, who was listed in the watch list for Collegiate Softball Player of the Year before the season started, unsurprisingly has emerged as an offensive leader. She leads the team with extra base hits with six, is tied with Lauren Haeger for most hits at 13, and tied with freshman Nicole DeWitt for most runs at 11.
Kelsey shared her thoughts on the season moving forward.
“I’m super excited. You can really only go up, you can’t really go down. I’m just looking forward to working my kinks out and just getting better everyday.”
There have been changes made to the schedule for the tournament because of cold weather. Florida will play one game Friday against Kansas at 4:45 pm. On Saturday, Florida plays Illinois State at noon followed by a game against Kansas. On Sunday, the Gators will play Mercer in a doubleheader beginning at noon.
For audio clips from Tim Walton, Kelsey Stewart and more, click below: