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Polls put Gators high as softball season approaches

The Florida Gators softball team enters the 2020 season with high rankings in polls and high expectations in the dugout despite losing five seniors from 2019.

Preseason Polls

There is not one ranking that defines women’s college softball as a whole. Of the four major polls that have come out, Florida ranks as high as No. 7 in the country and as low as No. 11.

The National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) consists of coaches from around college softball who vote on teams. The Gators debut at No. 7 in the country by the NFCA with the Washington Huskies taking the top spot in the poll.

Still, the No. 7 ranking from the NFCA is the highest the Gators received this offseason after finishing 2019 at the Women’s College World Series, where they lost both of their opening games.

Five of the six teams ranking above Tim Walton’s club all made it to Oklahoma City last spring. The exception was Texas, which got eliminated in the Super Regional stage of the tournament.

The Gators will begin this season with the same rank that they ended with last year, according to the NFCA. Interestingly, seven of the teams that finished in the NFCA’s end-of-season top 25 retain their same ranking going into the 2020 season.

Elsewhere, the poll organized by USA Softball and ESPN.com, the Gators attained No. 9 in the country.

The other two major polls that have been released are the Softball America Top 25 (No. 11) and the D1 Softball Top 25 Rankings (also No. 9).

New Season, Different Roster

In the Softball America and USA Softball rankings from a season ago, the Gators finished the season ranked No. 7. Perhaps the different rankings entering 2020 are a result of Florida losing arguably two of its best players in recent history.

The Gators said goodbye to seniors Kelly Barnhill and Amanda Lorenz in 2019. Barnhill was a second-team All American in 2019, becoming an All-American for the third time in her illustrious UF career.

Amanda Lorenz bats for the Gators in 2019. (Photo Courtesy: Tim Casey/UAA Communications)

In addition, Amanda Lorenz was an All-American every year she was a Gator, three of those (2017-19) being first-team All-American. As a result, leadership in the outfield will have to come from seniors Jade Caraway and Jaimie Hoover.

Coming to join the two-time defending SEC Tournament Champions are six recruits that each boast personal achievements from their high school and travel ball careers.

The Gators will begin their season with Women’s College World Series title hopes at the USF-Rawlings Invitational in Tampa. They take on Illinois State on Feb. 7 to kick off their season.

About Kyle Fansler

Originally from Seminole in the Tampa Bay area, Kyle is a contributor for ESPN Gainesville as well as local NPR and PBS affiliate WUFT. Kyle wants to get into sports with a lofty dream of being a sports broadcaster. He was raised playing soccer and baseball while watching hockey and football, so the knowledge about various sports is fairly extensive.

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