It’s been 246 days since Florida’s softball team felt the pain of coming up two games short of a national championship, getting swept by Oklahoma 2-0 in the Women’s College World Series.
This season will mark the last opportunity for seniors Aleshia Ocasio, Kayli Kvistad, Nicole DeWitt and Janell Wheaton to make it to the finals of the WCWS in Oklahoma City, and potentially take home the title as well.
It’s just over a week until the start of the Florida softball team’s season, but if you walk…
Their resumes leading up to this year includes three SEC regular season championships, three No. 1 national seeds, one WCWS runner-up finish and one WCWS championship title.
The team’s seniors heading into the 2018 season carry a lot of weight for the team. Florida will need the experience of the upperclassmen to take it deep into the WCWS again this year.
DeWitt has been a starter in almost every game throughout her career with the exception of eight games between her freshman and sophomore seasons.
This season, her work as an infielder will help with her transition to third base as she strives to take the Gators step-by-step to Oklahoma City once again.
Coming into this season, she has a .329 career batting average as well 104 total RBIs.
Wheaton is another strong asset to the team, providing the professional leadership qualities that have caught coach Tim Walton's attention.
“Janell Wheaton is probably one of the most underrated players in the country,” he said.
While Wheaton’s stats on the roster may come off as average, she’s continued to progress throughout her career, especially during last year's postseason.
When it comes to Ocasio, Walton says she provides leadership to the Gators with her dynamic on the field.
Ocasio, a utility player, has become one of the most versatile players in college softball after playing multiple positions over the course of her career.
When junior Kelly Barnhill stepped up as the team’s top pitcher, Ocasio found other roles for herself, playing other infield positions that have been beneficial to the Gators.
When it came to Kvistad, Walton emphasized her well-roundedness as a player and student.
Kvistad was one of five players from Florida selected to the 2018 Preseason All-SEC Team. For the last three years she’s been selected to the SEC Academic Honor Roll.
Kvistad had 53 RBIs last season, the most of anyone on the team, and a batting average of .368.
“They’re all so different, yet they all have the same thing in mind,” Walton said. “They all want to win and they want to win the right way.”