Friday, June 9, 2017

2017 Gator Softball: A Year In Review

Entering the 2017 season, the Florida Gator softball team was yet again one of the favorites to win the Women's College World Series as they posted a 58-10 (20-3 SEC) record and won the SEC regular season title.

As the No. 1 overall seed, the Florida Gators advanced to their third WCWS in four years before losing to No. 10 seeded Oklahoma (61-9) in the National Championship. Here's a rundown of Florida's postseason run!

SEC Tournament
Similar to years past, the Florida Gators struggled in the SEC Tournament. Their opponent in the first round was the Ole Miss Rebels (43-20), who the Gators had shut out in a three-game sweep at home. This time around, it was the Gators who got shut out as the Rebels defeated them by a score of 2-0.

This loss made Florida the first No. 1 seed to ever lose in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament. If it was any consolation though, Ole Miss would go on to win the tournament for the first time in program history.

NCAA Regionals
Once the postseason began, Florida was awarded the No. 1 overall seed for the third consecutive year. Their regional consisted of Florida A&M (23-32-1), Oklahoma State (38-25), and Florida International (46-15). The Gators soundly run-ruled/no-hit FAMU by a score of 8-0 in the opener before blanking Oklahoma State by a score of 2-0 in the semifinal.

In the regional final, it would be a rematch with Oklahoma State that the Gators lost 1-0. It would be Florida's first regional elimination game since 2012. In the do-or-die Game 7, the Gators prevailed as they shutout the Cowgirls 5-0.

NCAA Super Regionals
Hosting a super regional for the fifth straight season, the Gators played host to the No. 16 Alabama Crimson Tide (46-18). The Tide stole the first game in a 3-0 victory propelled by two throwing errors on sacrifice bunts.

In Game 2, the Gators fought back and shut the Tide out 2-0 to set up a winner-take-all matchup. In the decisive Game 3, the Gators prevailed by a score of 2-1 to clinch their eighth trip to the Women's College World Series.

Women's College World Series
In Oklahoma City, the Gators continued to face SEC competition as their opening round opponent was the No. 9 seeded Texas A&M Aggies (47-13). They made quick work of the Aggies, as they run-ruled them 8-0 to kickoff their title hunt in OKC.

In the quarterfinals, the Gators kept it within the conference as they faced off against the rival No. 13 seeded LSU Tigers (48-22). Yet again, this SEC foe would pose no threat Florida shut out LSU by a score of 7-0 to advance to the semifinals.

In the semis, the Gators hooked up with the No. 6 seeded Washington Huskies (50-14). They would soundly beat the Huskies 5-2 to reach their third National Championship in four years.

In the WCWS Finals against the defending champion Oklahoma Sooners, the Gators ran out of gas. They lost a record-setting opener 7-5 in 17 innings and fell in the second game by a score of 5-4, giving OU back-to-back titles.

The opening loss was tough to stomach as the Gators rallied twice to tie the game with two strikes and two outs in the seventh and 12th innings. It was Florida's third time losing in the National Championship series (Washington in 2008 and Arizona State in 2011).

Season Accomplishments
A loss in the National Championship by no means puts a damper on what was yet another phenomenal season from coach Tim Walton and this Gator softball team. Here are some of the accolades they accomplished in 2017:

  • SEC regular season champions for the seventh time in program history and for the third straight season
  • Posted over 50 wins for the 11th time in school history.
  • Made it to the National Championship for the fifth time in school history.
  • 39 shutout victories
  • 17 run-rule victories
  • Notched 27 victories over 16 ranked opponents (Part I). They were (at the time): No. 6 Michigan, No. 24 USF, No. 23 California, No. 7 UCLA, No. 24 Missouri (twice), No. 4 Auburn (twice), No. 24 Arkansas (thrice), No. 18 Georgia (thrice)
  • Part II: No. 2 FSU, No. 22 Kentucky (twice), No. 20 Ole Miss (thrice), No. 8 Tennessee (twice), No. 14 Alabama (twice), No. 11 Texas A&M, No. 19 LSU, and No. 7 Washington
  • Six series sweeps (Missouri, South Carolina, Arkansas, Georgia, Ole Miss, and North Texas)
  • Won all eight of their SEC series while dropping just one game a piece to Auburn, Kentucky, and Tennessee.
  • Won their 10th regional title.
  • Reached the Women's College World Series for the eighth time in program history.
  • Defend Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium well as they went 28-3 at home.
  • Won over 20 SEC games for the eighth time in school history.
  • Played in the longest game in WCWS history (five hours and 28 minutes) in their Game 1 loss against Oklahoma.

Award Winners
Now that I have finished highlighting the team's success, let's look at some of the hardware that the players themselves brought home:

USA Softball
  • USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year
  • NFCA Southeast All-Region First Team
  • NFCA Southeast All-Region Second Team
  • SEC Pitcher of the Year
    • Kelly Barnhill
  • SEC Coach of the Year
    • Tim Walton (fifth time)
  • First Team All-SEC
    • P - Kelly Barnhill
    • P - Delanie Gourley
    • IF - Nicole DeWitt
    • IF - Kayli Kvistad
    • OF - Amanda Lorenz
    • DP/U - Aleshia Ocasio
  • Second Team All-SEC
    • OF - Justine McLean (Senior)
  • SEC All-Defensive Team
    • 2B - Nicole DeWitt

With all the award winners honored, here's a look at the stat leaders for the 2017 season:


Hits: Amanda Lorenz (76)

RBI's: Kayli Kvistad (53)

Doubles: Nicole DeWitt (15)

Triples: Amanda Lorenz/Aleshia Ocasio/Jamie Hoover (3) (Freshman)

Home Runs: Amanda Lorenz (11)

Batting Average: Amanda Lorenz (.388)

Slugging Percentage: Amanda Lorenz (.648)

On Base Percentage: Kayli Kvistad (.554)

Stolen Bases: Justin McLean/Jacqui Switzer (18) (Freshman)

Runs Scored: Amanda Lorenz (60)

Total Bases: Amanda Lorenz (127)

Strikeouts: Jordan Roberts (38) (Freshman)

Walks: Kayli Kvistad (67)

Hit By Pitch: Nicole Dewitt (18)

Sacrifice Bunts: Sophia Reynoso (9)

Sacrifice Flies: Nicole Dewitt (6)


Assists: Sophia Reynoso (97)

Putouts: Janell Wheaton (588) (Junior)

Errors: Sophia Reynoso (8)

Fielding Percentage: Amanda Lorenz/Janell Wheaton/Jordan Roberts/Chelsea Herndon (1.000) (Senior) 


Wins: Kelly Barnhill (26)

Losses: Kelly Barnhill/Delanie Gourley (4)

Strikeouts: Kelly Barnhill (359)

Walks: Kelly Barnhill (40)

Earned Run Average: Kelly Barnhill (0.51)

Shutouts: Kelly Barnhill (19)

Complete Games: Kelly Barnhill/Delanie Gourley (17)

Saves: Kelly Barnhill (3)

Appearances: Kelly Barnhill (37)

Innings Pitched: Kelly Barnhill (193.2)

No-Hitters & Perfect Games
This year, the Florida Gators had four instances where their opponent failed to record a hit. Here's a breakdown of those games:

  • March 2nd - Delanie Gourley tossed her first career perfect game against the Iowa Hawkeyes as she struck out 12 of the 15 batters she faced.
  • March 17th - Against the South Carolina Gamecocks, Delanie Gourley (4 IP) and Aleshia Ocasio (1 IP) threw the fifth combined no-no in Gator history.
  • April 16th - Leaving her mark on an historic sophomore year, Kelly Barnhill struck out 15 batters as she no-hit the Kentucky Wildcats.
  • May 19th - In her second no-hitter of the year, Delanie Gourley struck out eight as the Gators downed the Florida A&M Rattlers in five innings.

Senior Sendoff
In their four years for the Orange and Blue, the trio of Delanie Gourley, Chelsea Herndon, and Justin McLean have seen much success. They all played integral roles in helping the program win two national championships while their teams combined for an overall record of 229-36 (.865 winning percentage) from 2014-2017.

With their careers ending in the same place as their freshman seasons, these girls are moving on to bigger and better things after their time at UF.

Delanie Gourley

Personally one of my favorite players on the team, Delanie contributed early as she pitched all four years of college. She concludes her Florida career with a 65-10 record, a 1.36 ERA, 14 saves, 692 strikeouts, and 155 walks in 506.2 innings pitched.

Her collegiate accolades include:

  • 2015 & 2014 National Champion
  • 2017, 2016, & 2015 SEC Regular Season Champion
  • First left-hander to pitch for Tim Walton at Florida.
  • 2017 & 2016 First Team All-American
  • 2017 NFCA Southeast All-Region Second Team
  • 2017 & 2016 First Team All-SEC
  • 2016 USA Softball Player of the Year Top 10 Finalist
  • 2016 Southeast All-Region First Team
  • USA Softball National Player of the Week for April 19th, 2016
  • SEC Pitcher of the Week for the week of April 25, 2016 
  • NFCA Pitcher of the Week for March 1, 2015
  • SEC Pitcher of the Week for March 1, 2015
  • Earned the win in Game 2 of the 2014 WCWS Finals for Florida’s first national championship.
  • Notched the save in Game 1 of the 2015 WCWS Finals.
  • Threw two no-hitters during her junior season in 2016.
  • Threw five career no-hitters (including one perfect game and a combined no-no with Aleshia Ocasio in her senior season)

Delanie's playing career does not end with the heartbreaking loss in the National Championship. Earlier this year on April 25th, she was selected by the Scrap Yard Dawgs with the 12th overall pick in the third round of the NPF College Draft.

She is the second Gator to ever play for the Scrap Yard Dawgs -they drafted Taylore Fuller last year before trading her to the Chicago Bandits- as they enter their second season of existence. Thank you for everything you have done for the softball program, Delanie! I wish you the best of luck in your pro career!

Chelsea Herndon

Earning the most playing time in her senior year, Herndon was a more talented defensive player as she made just ONE error in 169 games! She finishes her career with a slash line of .243/.339/.378, 59 hits, 41 runs scored, nine home runs, 48 RBI's, 11 stolen bases, and a .984 fielding percentage! Her career accolades include:

  • 2015 & 2014 National Champion
  • 2017, 2016, & 2015 SEC Regular Season Champion
  • 2016 SEC Academic Honor Roll
  • 2014 SEC First-Year Academic Honor Roll
  • Hitting the mercy-rule grand slam against Baylor in the opening round of the WCWS as a freshman.

Chelsea will not be pursuing a playing career after college as she graduates with a degree in Event Management. Thank you for these last four years, Chelsea!

Justine McLean

Last but not least among the graduating seniors is Justine McLean. Seeing significant playing time the moment she arrived on campus, Justine played in over 50 games in all four years and started every game of her senior season.

She finishes her Gator career with a slash line of .323/.391/.335, 164 hits, 129 runs scored, no home runs, 41 RBI's, 55 stolen bases, and a .989 fielding percentage. Her career accolades include:

  • 2015 & 2014 National Champion
  • 2017, 2016, & 2015 SEC Regular Season Champion
  • 2016 SEC Academic Honor Roll
  • 2014 SEC All-Freshman Team
  • 2014 SEC First-Year Academic Honor Roll

Justine will not pursue a professional softball career after Florida as she graduates with a degree in Public Relations. Thank you for everything in the last four years, Justine!

Final Takeaway
Losing in the National Championship is a tough way to end even the greatest of seasons, but it does not define the 2017 Florida Gators softball team. They have made every single person in Gainesville very proud and should not at all hang their heads after losing to the defending National Champions in essentially their own backyard.

This team will still have all the pieces needed to win their third title in five years. Kelly Barnhill will be returning for her junior year to embrace her role as the official ace on the mound, sluggers Amanda Lorenz and Kayli Kvistad will be back as the two power threats in the Gator lineup, and head coach Tim Walton is not going anywhere anytime soon.

The Gators will boast four seniors, six juniors, five sophomores, and maybe five or six freshman that Walton brings in for the 2018 squad. Bright days remain ahead for the softball program, and I can guarantee you that they will win another national championship before I finish law school in 2021.

Thank you for everything, 2017 Gator Softball! Go Gators!

**All awards & honors accredited to &



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