This past Saturday marked Senior Day at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium, a special outing dedicated Florida's three-member graduating class.
These three women – Delanie Gourley, Justine McLean and Chelsea Herndon – will each leave a mark on UF's program that won't be forgotten anytime soon.
The senior class of 2016 was full of talented players like Aubree Munro and Kelsey Stewart, who become members of Team USA upon leaving Gainesville.
But this class is also very talented. Gourley boasts one of the lowest ERAs in the country at .80, while McLean and Herndon's hitting has pushed Florida to an on-base percentage of .431 and an RBI total of 311 this season, both the highest in the SEC.
So what makes this class so special?
“All three always have smiles on their faces, and all three of them do it the right way in the classroom,” coach Tim Walton said in a release after Saturday’s game. “But I think the easiest thing I can see is they have a truly infectious positive personality.”
This positivity noted by Walton does wonders for a highly-competitive program when it’s coming from its veterans.
Over four years, a high sense of positivity can affect practice, team comradery and how one handles tough situations in big moments.
And that attitude begins with the bond the seniors share amongst themselves, which then radiates out to the rest of the program.
“We have been so close for the longest time,” McLean said Saturday. “Watching all of us grow over the four years and how close we’ve all been…we’ve shared so many memories.”
That they have.
There’s the two National Championships they won as underclassmen.
As as freshman in the 2014 Women's College World Series, McLean’s pinch running and a single late in the second game put pressure on Alabama's defense.
Then it was Gourley’s clutch throwing, as she pitched two perfect frames against Alabama to make sure they wouldn’t have a chance to score.
And as sophomores, talented play from each of them secured yet another title.
They also have won three SEC Championships, and hope to win a fourth this weekend.
For the three graduates, their senior year has shown the improvements in skill that each have made.
But it has also displayed the close relationship this team in their final chapter
“This team is just so amazing,” Herndon said in a release on Saturday. “This program is just amazing.”
And while the winning on the field has created numerous life-long memories, the team has created numerous memories off the field as well.
“The friendships, the family, the winning, the losing what you learn from that,” Gourley said, “I just loved it.”
Contact Cassie Amundson at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @camundson_.