For the first time in her collegiate career, Carla Batchelor feels like a little fish in a big pond.
The junior spent her first two seasons at Northwest Florida State College in Niceville, where she saw a considerable amount of playing time, starting 63 of the 65 games she played in.
In those 65 contests, the 5-foot-10
Batchelor averaged 11.8 points and 7.4 rebounds per game, leading her to First-team All-Panhandle Conference honors in both years.
When her sophomore season concluded, Batchelor felt she needed a change of scenery.
Feeling content with her accomplishments, Batchelor made the jump from junior college to the NCAA, joining the Florida Gators to finish her career.
While Batchelor knew things would be different, she probably didn’t expect she would have to relearn the defensive aspect of her game.
"Coming from a place where we played strictly zone, and now playing strictly man has been really hard to adjust," Batchelor said.
"But I’ve been getting better every day at it."
Aside from the obvious assignment differences in switching from zone to man defense, the transition required Batchelor to put an increased focus on her quickness and endurance.
Where she previously was required to learn the roles of the zone defense in just two spots, a man defense requires consistent rotation and awareness of every player on the court.
For Batchelor, the increased emphasis on quickness was a natural adoption, as she was often called upon to defend guards who are smaller than her while at NWFSC.
"I’ve been able to work on my quickness, but my previous two seasons I had experiences with being quick," Batchelor said.
"I’m not really behind, but it is a little faster. But I can get a little bit faster, still."
With the addition of Batchelor, the Gators receive a player who has an advantage over several of the other players — she comes from a team that featured height in the front court, something the Gators severely missed over the last two seasons.
"I was used to playing with big girls, and being down low, so it hasn’t been too much of an adjustment," Batchelor said.
That experience has helped ease Batchelor into the team, and she’s been able to share what she’s learned with the rest of her new teammates.
The Gators hope to improve this season with the addition of front court depth, an element that was sorely missed as Florida often had to start redshirt senior guard Kayla Lewis at center and play a small rotation.
The team has also helped Batchelor grow as a player, and she no longer has to worry about being a team leader.
She just wants to go out and play basketball.
"It’s so much easier to have other people be a leader to me, when I was so used to being a leader to everyone else," Batchelor said.
She figures to be a rotation player for the Gators, a multi-dimensional hybrid guard with post experience who can step out and hit the three-point shot.
Like most players, Batchelor is itching for the calendar to hit Nov. 14, when the Gators open the season against Jacksonville.
It’s a fresh start for Batchelor.
With the support of her teammates and family — the Germantown, Maryland, native has 15 siblings, and all but one are older than herself —Batchelor has the right company around her helping her succeed.
Now that the transition is over, Batchelor has improved and is ready to hit the court for her first NCAA minutes.
"I was struggling when I got here, and I’ve improved tons," Batchelor said. "I have a little way to go conditioning wise, but I’m going to get there."
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Junior guard Carla Batchelor poses during Florida women's basketball's media day.