Florida softball head coach Tim Walton talks to a player.
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Florida Softball Brings Back All-American Star As Assistant Coach

The Florida Gators softball team is bringing back a familiar face on the coaching staff after hiring Francisca Enea as an assistant coach.

If Tim Walton were to rank the most successful seasons during his 18 years as University of Florida softball head coach, chances are 2023 would not be on his list. However, a familiar face is joining the coaching staff with hopes to shake things up for 2024.

The Gators finished 38-22, their worst season under Walton after a Women's College World Series appearance in 2022. They limped into the NCAA Tournament unseeded before falling to Stanford in the Palo Alto Regional.

It didn't take long for Walton to shake up his coaching staff. Earlier this week, Walton announced a familiar face would be returning to Gainesville. Francesca Enea, who played under Walton from 2007-10, became the latest addition to the coaching staff. Enea, a three-time NFCA All-American, finished as the SEC's all-time home run leader (61) and fourth in RBI (221). As a senior, she broke a single-season school record by hitting 20 homers and finished her collegiate career ranked on the school's top 10 list in 20 categories.

The Gators made three consecutive WCWS appearances from 2008-10, finishing as a runner-up in 2009. Enea tied a WCWS single-game record in 2008 with two homers in a 6-1 victory over Texas A&M. Following her collegiate career, Enea played for the USSSA Pride of National Pro Fastpitch before moving to the broadcast booth.

The chance for Enea to return to her alma mater was too tempting to pass up.

Florida Softball's Big Offseason Moves

A Florida softball player rounds the bases.

Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images

In June, Walton made another change to the staff, replacing pitching coach Mike Bosch with Chelsey Dobbins, who spent the last eight seasons on North Carolina's staff. A former player with Illinois-Chicago, West Valley College and Oklahoma State, Dobbins led the Tar Heels pitching staff to multiple NFCA and ACC honors. She also served as an assistant at Cal Poly and Marshall, helping the Thundering Herd to its first Conference USA championship and a berth in the NCAA Tournament.

Florida received help through the transfer portal in a big way earlier this month. Utility player Jocelyn Erickson announced she was transferring to Florida from Oklahoma, who already lost pitcher Jordy Bahl to Nebraska following a third consecutive WCWS national title.

As a freshman for the Sooners last season, Erickson batted .337 with 32 RBI, 25 runs scored and 18 extra-base hits. She appeared in 57 games, 32 as a starter at several positions. In high school, Erickson led Sandra Day O'Connor High School in Arizona to a 6A state championship in 2019 and was named the 2022 Gatorade Arizona Softball Player of the Year.

Walton's biggest incoming freshman is pitcher Ava Brown, who was recently named Gatorade Best Female Player of the Year. Brown became only the second softball player to win the award in its 20-year history. She led Lake Creek (Texas) High School to a second straight Conference 5A state championship and posted a phenomenal 81-0 record in the circle during her prep career.

The Gators were favored to win the SEC coming into 2023, but finished with a losing conference record for the first time since 2002. Thanks to a revamped coaching staff, key transfers and a strong recruiting class, there is little reason to doubt they can return to form in 2024.

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