Sunday, June 29, 2014

2014 Gator Softball: A SPECIAL Year In Review

The 2014 Gator softball season was hands down the most successful one in program history as it produced the program's first ever National Championship. The pure ecstasy I felt when the last out was made is something I will never forget for the rest of my life. In this season wrap-up I won't talk too much about the National Championship as I have heavily emphasized it in other softball articles I have written. Instead, I will elaborate on the overall performance and accomplishments of the team and the individual success of the players.

Here's what the Gator softball team accomplished over the course of the 2014 season:
  • Started the season 22-0 and finished with an overall record of 55-12 (15-9 in SEC play)
  • Won 8 out of 11 series played throughout the course of the season (this includes the Super Regionals and the WCWS Finals)
  • Split the season series with FSU at 1-1
  • Defeated eight teams in the Softball Top 25 rankings
  • Finished the season ranked #1 in the NCAA Women's Softball RPI rankings and Softball rankings
  • Went undefeated at the Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City
  • Turned a record seven double plays in the WCWS
  • Won the first ever National Championship in program history
The Gators' quest to glory began after Georgia eliminated them in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament. With the chance of an SEC Championship repeat out the window, the focus now shifted to the National Championship. 

In Regional play, the Gators marched through FAMU, Stetson, and UCF to advance to Super Regionals. In the Super Regionals, the Gators had to face a worthy opponent in the Washington Huskies. The series went three games and after two weather delays, Kirsti Merritt sent the Gators to their fifth WCWS with a walk off home run in the fifth inning.

In the WCWS, the Gators smoked Baylor 11-0, shutdown Oregon 4-0, and beat Baylor again 6-3 to advance to their third ever WCWS Finals. Waiting for them was Alabama, who had taken two out of three from the Gators in a series earlier in the year. Things were different this time around as it was the Gators who took two of three from Alabama to win the National Championship. The Gators dominated in the 2014 postseason as they went 10-1 and outscored their opponents 81- 10. Gator pitching was unhittable as 8 of these 10 wins were shutouts.

Now, let's look at the players who contributed to the dynamic Gator offense, defense, and pitching that culminated into a National Championship:


Hits: Kelsey Stewart (102) (Sophomore)

RBI's: Lauren Haeger (67) (Junior)

Home Runs: Lauren Haeger (20) (Junior)

Batting Average: Kelsey Stewart (.438) (Sophomore)

Slugging %: Lauren Haeger (.648) (Junior)

On Base %: Bailey Castro (.514) (Junior)

Stolen Bases: Kelsey Stewart (36) (Sophomore)

Runs Scored: Kelsey Stewart (68) (Sophomore)

Strikeouts: Taylor Schwarz (31) (Sophomore)

Walks: Bailey Castro (44) (Junior)


Assists: Kelsey Stewart (114) (Sophomore)

Putouts: Taylor Schwarz (403) (Junior)

Errors: Stephanie Tofft (10) (Senior)


Wins: Hannah Rogers (30) (Senior)

Losses: Hannah Rogers (8) (Senior)

Strikeouts: Hannah Rogers (167) (Senior)

ERA: Hannah Rogers (1.60) (Senior)

Saves: Hannah Rogers and Delanie Gourley (2) (Senior/Freshman)

Appearances: Hannah Rogers (43) (Senior)

The Gator softball team only loses two seniors in pitcher Hannah Rogers and infielder Stephanie Tofft to graduation. It's worth nothing that Tofft will continue to play softball at the pro level with the Akron Racers. With most of the team returning, the chances of a repeat are very realistic. 

Although Hannah Rogers will no longer be around to anchor down the pitching staff, the Gators still have two very good pitchers in rising senior Lauren Haeger and rising sophomore Delanie Gourley. Haeger and Gourley both pitched in the clinching game of the WCWS and should be prepared to lead from the mound in the 2015 season.

Even though most of the team is returning, championship hangover may be a concern. UCLA and Arizona are the only two teams to repeat and have done it on more than one occasion as UCLA has done it twice (with a three-peat thrown in the mix) and Arizona has done it three times.

Will Florida be the next team to add its name to this prestigious list? After finally getting over the hump and winning it all, the sky is the limit for Gator Head Coach Tim Walton and his girls.

Congrats again on the National Championship!

*Stats accredited to and

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