The Gators survived a college softball gauntlet last weekend.
In fact, they thrived. They emerged from Palm Springs, California, Sunday with a 4-1 record against four top-25 teams in the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic after forcing No. 1 UCLA to extra innings.
As a result, Florida (16-2) earned the No. 6 slot in the NFCA Coaches’ poll released Tuesday.
“For us, it’s about being consistent...being able to go out and perform at your best,” coach Tim Walton said.
The four runs the Gators hung on the Bruins in the one-run loss was tied for the most runs UCLA has allowed all season.
Walton seemed disappointed in the team’s defensive showing in that game, however, comparing it to the Gators’ only other loss this season against then-No. 11 Michigan. UF notched a season-high three errors in the 11-2 loss.
While Florida only had two mishaps against UCLA, that’s enough to indicate a trend in Walton’s book. More than half of its errors on the season came in those two matchups.
After years of relying on defensive strategy, additions to UF’s lineup have transformed its style of play and allowed newer players to shine in orange and blue.
“We’ve had some really good at-bats from Baylee Goddard, really good at-bats from Julia Cottrill, Charla Echols, Jade Caraway, Cheyenne Lindsey,” Walton said.
Hannah Adams, the leadoff batter, has noticed the evolution of Florida’s offense.
“We have a lot more diversity in our lineup than we’ve had in the past,” the junior said. “There’s people that slap, people that are fast, people that hit home runs.”
Adams played an integral role on the West Coast, including her second walk-off hit of the season to seal the victory against Northwestern Friday night. Adams has been big on continually building her self-assurance at the plate and shared her mindset at that moment.
“It’s important to just be yourself and don’t let the moment get too big,” she said.
After hitting just three home runs all of last season, Adams has two already this year. She said that a new mentality has allowed her to maximize her impact in the batter’s box.
“I think (I’m) going up there every time with intent to do damage on the ball,” she said. “At times last year, it was more of just trying to make contact.”
Moving forward, Florida’s first series of the season against No. 10 Louisiana Lafayette begins Friday at 6 p.m. at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.
Follow Payton on Twitter @petitus25 and contact her at email@example.com.