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Sunday April 20, 2014 Talking milestones with 600-game winner Tim Walton

Updated: 9:58am, April 22

Tim Walton GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- It wasn’t intended as a trick question, but you wouldn’t have know it from the look on Tim Walton’s face.

“I honestly don’t remember,” Walton said when asked last week to recall his first game as a college softball coach. “I know where we were. It was at Texas-San Antonio. And I know we lost.”

When you’ve coached as many as Walton  a few are bound to slip from the memory banks.

But the very first one? C’mon.

“Wait,” he said. “I think we actually won.”

Yes, Wichita State defeated Texas-San Antonio 5-1 on Feb. 14, 2003 to mark Walton’s first career win.

On Sunday, the fifth-ranked Gators defeated No. 21 Texas A&M 8-0 on Sunday to not only hand UF a huge sweep in a pivotal Southeastern Conference series, but present Walton with his 600th career victory. Over his 12 seasons (the first three at WSU, the last nine at Florida) that averages out to 50 a year. Walton’s 2014 Gators improved to 40-8 and are on pace to hit that 50 mark -- and then some -- with seven regular-season games to go, plus the postseason after that.

With the milestone approaching, Walton was asked last week what it mean to be in such rarified numerical air.

“Not a whole lot, personally,” said Walton, whose team crushed the Aggies by a combined score of 30-5 at College Station, Texas. “What it makes you think about is the span of players you’ve coached. That’s the beauty of winning games and winning a lot of games. You think of all the kids and personalities.”

His record at Florida now stands at 477-110, which converts a .813 winning percentage.

“It’s funny,” Walton said. “Every coach always says, ‘Yeah, wait till next year, we’ve got these guys coming in.’ Now, after all these wins and you asking me about it, you start thinking, ‘Man, I remember this kid or that kid and that kid.’ You go backward, but that’s a cool thing.”

One day, one of those kids he’s thinking about will be pitcher Hannah Rogers, who struck out nine Sunday on the way to her 20th win of the season and 117th of her UF career.
That’s 37 percent of Walton’s wins for the Gators.

"He's just an awesome coach,” said Rogers, the senior from Lake Wales, Fla. “He's always trying to fix anything that we might be having a problem with. Whether it's hitting, pitching, defense or communication, he's always trying to get better in all aspects.”

Rest assured, he’ll continue to do just that ... all the way to 700.

And beyond.


CHARTING THE GATORS
With Tim Walton ringing career win No. 600 Sunday, here's a some other Florida coaches with big numbers on their career ledger.

Coach                      Sport                      UF record                         Career record
Mary Wise                Volleyball              23 seasons, 714-84         27 seasons, 795-147
Tim Walton               Softball                 10 seasons, 477-110       13 seasons, 600-135
Billy Donovan           M-Basketball        18 seasons, 451-169       20 seasons, 486-189
Becky Burleigh         Soccer                  19 seasons, 337-90-28    25 seasons, 419-113-34
Roland Thornqvist    W-Tennis              13 seasons, 321-38         18 seasons, 396-89
Kevin O'Sullivan       Baseball                 7 seasons, 278-145         7 seasons, 278-145
Bryan Shelton          M-Tennis                 2 seasons, 30-19            15 seasons, 257-127
Amanda O'Leary      Lacrosse                5 seasons, 78-20-5        18 seasons, 240-85
Rhonda Faehn        Gymnastics           12 seasons, 210-43-4      12 seasons, 210-43-4 
Amanda Butler        W-Basketball           7 seasons, 140-95            9 seasons, 180-117

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