Gator softball finished their 2010 regular season by sweeping South Carolina this weekend. In three games, UF (42-7, 20-4) outscored the Gamecocks 35-1. But as the Gators were finishing off the cellar-dwelling Lady Cocks, Alabama won the SEC regular season title by virtue of a higher winning percentage. Bama finished 23-4 to claim the SEC, despite losing 2 of 3 to the Gators in March. That does not mean much for the Gators, as they are more worried about winning a National Championship ring that has barely escaped their grasp the last two seasons.
This edition of the Gators may not be as dominant as the 2008 or 2009 teams. But this is the third season of the Gators dealing with the pressure of being a national powerhouse. The have struggled at points, needing extra innings to beat UCF and losing to FIU. But since that 8-3 loss at home to FIU, UF allowed six runs in the last nine games to end the regular season. Pitchers Stephanie Brombacher and Ensley Gammel were never going to replace Stacey Nelson, but they deserve credit for keeping UF a top-five program in an increasingly competitive SEC.
Offensively, the biggest star again was senior Francesca Enea, who continued to be the best of The Best Dressed Women In Gainesville. Enea is hitting .361, leads the SEC with 20 homers and .872 slugging percentage, and is second with 64 RBI. Her home run Sunday afternoon was her 61st in her career and set a new SEC record.
The Gators will go as far as Enea can take them. Everything she hits is a frozen rope and with a team of only two seniors, she will be looked at for leadership on the road to the Softball World Series in Oklahoma City. Enea has already proven she can do that as she has fought through knee injuries to be the best offensive player in Gator history.
Enea's progress as a player and as a Gator has been one of the best things about Coach Tim Walton's five seasons. A California girl, Enea fell in love with our school and a Florida boy, too. Before Sunday's game, her boyfriend Christian Bruey proposed to her on the field. Of course, Enea said yes. Alligator Army would like to wish Enea and our former colleague from AM850 and The Sporting Orange the best of luck. Also, we would like to see Enea get a National Championship ring to go with her engagement ring.
Florida's next game is their SEC Tournament quarterfinal against Auburn (30-23, 11-17) Thursday afternoon in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The winner of that game plays the winner of LSU (42-13, 20-8) and Kentucky (31-24, 13-15) Friday afternoon. The SEC final is 6:30pm Saturday on ESPN.