Softball

The Gators softball team will face Georgia at 7 p.m. on Thursday.

Despite being entrenched in a battle for position atop the SEC softball standings, No. 6 Florida and No. 11 South Carolina took the field on Saturday united in support of one cause.

For the third consecutive season, UF hosted the “Yellow Game,” a display of support for those affected by pediatric cancer.

Both teams wore bright yellow hats with accompanying sunflowers and yellow ribbons in their hair.

Just before the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader, the Gators and Gamecocks lined the infield to cheer on an inspirational young man.

William Collett threw out the day’s first pitch. Eleven months ago he was diagnosed with leukemia and is actively receiving treatment at Shands Children’s Hospital.

“It’s not just one team against cancer. It’s everyone,” UF pitcher Kelly Barnhill said. “Just seeing William come out and throw the first pitch, these kids have so much fight in them. We want to show that we’re supporting them.”

Thomas Collett, William’s father and radio broadcaster with the Gator IMG Sports Network, posted a video on Twitter of his son heaving the softball into the mitt of senior catcher Janell Wheaton. William was also surprised with a softball signed by the entire team and a Florida batting helmet. 

In return, William gave every player and coach a yellow bracelet, which reads “Pray For William.”

Third baseman Nicole DeWitt, who hit a walk off home run in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Gamecocks, responded to the video and the team’s encounter with William on Twitter.

“It’s so amazing that this sport can bring awareness to pediatric cancer!” DeWitt tweeted. “William, you are awesome and will be with the Gators for the rest of our season!”

UF also recognized Heather Braswell, an honorary member of the team from 2009 until 2014 when she passed away due to brain cancer.

A yellow “HB” was scripted into clay down the left field foul line with the Braswell family in attendance.

“I wasn’t able to know (Heather),” senior pitcher Aleshia Ocasio said. “But the tradition that she carries and the meaning that this yellow day and the sunflower (holds)… it is so amazing that we can reach out to so many people and spread awareness.”

Follow Mark Stine on Twitter @mstinejr and contact him at [email protected].

Mark Stine is sports editor for the Independent Florida Alligator. He's a senior at UF and has written softball, women's soccer, men's tennis and cross country in the past.