Entering his 15th season at the helm in Gainesville, Florida softball head coach Tim Walton has built a powerhouse. In 2008 — just Walton’s third season — Florida set the NCAA record with 70 wins in a single season, but failed to reach the Women’s College World Series.
The Gators reached the championship series the following year, but lost to Washington. When the calendar flipped to 2010, however, Florida’s dynasty blossomed.
Throughout the next decade, Florida won five regular season SEC championships, three SEC Tournament titles, 545 games to post an astonishing .832 winning percentage, and churned out 31 All-Americans, including Player of the Year talents like Hannah Rogers, Delanie Gourley, Amanda Lorenz and Kelly Barnhill.
In 2011, UF finished as national runner-up for the second time in program history. Walton and company followed that up by winning back-to-back national championships in 2014 and 2015. In 2017, another national title runner-up came and went through Katie Seashole Pressly Softball Stadium.
In total, the Gators made eight WCWS appearances in the last 10 years — Only Oklahoma reached the postseason’s crowning series that many times among all Division I college softball teams.
Coming off a second consecutive SEC Tournament title in 2019, the Florida Gators are poised for another WCWS run behind All-SEC performers like Kendyl Lindaman and Elizabeth Hightower in the 2020 campaign.
With a decade of work that impressive, it’s no wonder the Florida softball program was named Softball America’s No. 2 Team of the Decade.
Softball America’s Teams of the Decade
1. Oklahoma Sooners
2. Florida Gators
3. UCLA Bruins
4. Alabama Crimson Tide
5. Florida State Seminoles
Florida participated in two of Softball America’s Games of the Decade as well, both of which resulted in the high-powered Gators being beaten, however. Georgia’s walk-off home run to beat Florida in the 2016 Gainesville Super Regional was voted the third-best game this decade, and Oklahoma’s 17-inning triumph over the Gators in Game 1 of the 2017 WCWS was voted No. 1.
With a strong foundation in place, all signs point to this dynasty getting even stronger as the new decade dawns. Florida opens their 2020 regular season with the USF Opening Weekend Invitational tournament in Tampa, Florida.