The Florida Gators softball team has been about as dominant as any program over the last decade, and that’s across all major U.S. sports. Since 2008, UF has had just one season with a winning percentage below .800 and has nabbed two national championships in nine trips to the Women’s College World Series.
Up until now, that success hasn’t translated the way one would expect into the National Pro Fastpitch league.
Star pitcher Kelly Barnhill and slugger Amanda Lorenz became the first and second overall picks in the 2019 NPF Draft, making not only UF softball history but UF athletics history as a whole. Barnhill is the first Gator to ever be selected first overall in a professional sports draft, while Lorenz became just the third UF athlete taken second overall in a professional draft.
Not counting Cam Newton, who transferred from Florida to Auburn before the Carolina Panthers made him a top pick, here’s a full list of the University of Florida’s top draft picks across all sports.
No. 1 Overall: Kelly Barnhill (2019 NPF).
No. 2 Overall: Amanda Lorenz (2019 NPF), DeLisha Milton (1997 ABL), Neal Walk (1969 NBA), Paul Duhart (1945 NFL).
No. 3 Overall: Christen Westphal (2016 NWSL), Dante Fowler (2015 NFL), Mike Zunino (2013 MLB), Bradley Beal (2012 NBA), Al Horford (2007 NBA), Gerard Warren (2001 NFL), Murriel Page (1998 WNBA), Wes Chandler (1978 NFL), Steve Spurrier (1967 NFL), Chuck Hunsinger (1950 NFL).
A pair of teammates going first and second overall is a rarity in professional sports drafts. After sifting through years of draft history, I found only seven instances of that happening. Three times it’s happened in the NFL draft (2000, 1984, 1967), twice in the WNBA draft (2016, 2002), once in the NBA draft (2012) and one other time in the NPF draft (2015).
Never has the MLB or NHL draft featured two top picks from the same college, though most professional hockey players don’t come from universities and MLB teams select a mix of college and high school players.
While college softball — especially the Women’s College World Series — has become increasingly popular, that isn’t the case with the NPF, a league in which the average player salary is between $5,000 and $6,000. As former Gator softball player Delanie Gourley put it, that’s less than what the New York Yankees bat boy makes.
Despite that, Barnhill and Lorenz are expected to sign professional contracts and play in the league, where they will instantly help their respective teams.
Barnhill has blossomed into one of the great pitchers in Florida history. The 2017 USA Softball Collegiate National Player of the Year and two-time All-American is closing in on 100 career wins and holds the second-lowest career ERA the highest strikeouts-per-seven-inning ratio in program history.
Lorenz is one of the best pure hitters in the country. The left-hander is UF’s all-time leader in batting average (.404) and on-base percentage while also being a two-time All-American and the 2018 SEC Player of the Year.
Coming out of high school, Barnhill and Lorenz were the two highest-ranked high school recruits in the country, according to FloSoftball’s 2015 rankings. Since then, they’ve lived up to all expectations and helped keep UF softball an elite program.
At No. 1 and No. 2, Barnhill and Lorenz are by far the highest UF softball players picked in the NPF draft. They’re also the 16th and 17th Gators drafted into the NPF, joining the likes of Lauren Haeger, Kelsey Stewart, Kirsti Merritt, Aleshia Ocasio and Nicole DeWitt.