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Friday May 24, 2013 A motto this Gators softball team lives by

Updated: 8:39pm, May 24

Softball huddle

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Tim Walton likes it because he had nothing to do with it.

“It’s theirs,” UF’s softball coach said. 

It’s the motto “#16Strong,” and the Gators have lived by it since strength and conditioning coach Paul Chandler tossed it out in January.

Chandler is known to shout random sayings, usually with the word “hashtag” as a precursor. Example: “Hashtag Ballers!” The one that pinpointed the number of players on the UF roster just seemed to hit close to home for this tightly knit band of Gators.

It’s been the battle cry throughout this surprising and wildly successful season, so you better believe the Gators (55-7) will take it into their NCAA Super Regional against UAB (40-17) Saturday and Sunday at Pressly Stadium.

“It means even more now because these games means even more,” junior pitcher Hannah Rogers said Friday after the final practice before regional play. “You’re only as strong as your weakest link. We have to stick together.”

Second baseman Kelsey Stewart: “It means family.”

The Gators have T-shirts emblazoned with the phrase. They break team huddles with it and bellow it after every game; win or lose.

“And it’s always loud and proud,” Walton said.

You’ll hear it Saturday (quite clearly, in fact) when the Gators line up against the Blazers for Game 1 at 1 p.m.

“The first time we heard, we thought it was catchy,” sophomore slugger/pitcher Lauren Haeger said. “We’ve been saying it all year and it’s all come true. We’re definitely 16 strong. So small, so close. We love our team.”

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