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Softball Timeline: Traveling Toward Success

June 13, 1995
The University of Florida Athletic Association Board of Directors, acting on a recommendation from President Dr. John Lombardi, approved the addition of women's softball to Florida's intercollegiate athletic program.

September 4, 1995
Larry Ray, top assistant at perennial national power Arizona the past 10 seasons, was the University of Florida's selection as head coach of the inaugural Gator softball team, Athletic Director Jeremy Foley announced.

November 8, 1995
Lora Pinkerton signed a national letter-of-intent to attend the University of Florida, becoming the first signee for the Gators.

February 1, 1996
Ground was broken on the construction of the new softball facility, located at the corner of Hull and Museum Roads.

September 30, 1996
The Gators held their first day of fall practice on the field at the new stadium.

November 2, 1996
Florida hosted the Gator Fall Softball Tournament, where they defeat Florida Community College at Jacksonville, 4-0, in its first-ever competition, held at the Southwest Recreation Center Fields on the UF campus.

January 26, 1997
The Gators had their first practice of the spring season at the UAA Softball Complex.

February 8, 1997
Florida played its inaugural doubleheader, defeating Stetson in both games.  The first pitch was thrown by UF’s Chelsey Sakizzie to Stetson’s Bryttnee Roberts at 4:01:13 p.m. ET.  Roberts fouled off the pitch and Sakizzie went on to strike out the side.  The following are the list of firsts for the UF softball team:

  • First SEC hit by UF player Amy Criswell at 4:12 p.m. ET. Criswell singled down left field line off Stetson's Jean Bonnici in the first inning.
  • First SEC run scored by UF's Amy Criswell at 4:19:13 p.m. ET. Criswell scored from first on a throwing error by Stetson's 3B Traci Brown on a bunt by UF's Trisha Ward.
  • First SEC extra base hit at 4:24 p.m. ET by UF player Kristin Sandler. Sandler doubled to left center in first.
  • End of first inning UF vs. Stetson at 4:26 p.m. ET.
  • First hit allowed by UF vs. Stetson at 4:29 p.m. ET. Julie Wagner connected with one of Chelsey Sakizzie's pitches, the only hit Sakizzie allowed in the game.
  • First RBI by UF's Kristin Sandler who doubled home Nicole Kreipl.
  • First stolen base by UF's Lora Pinkerton who stole second after reaching first on a single to center.
  • First win by UF, 8-0, vs. Stetson at 5:29 p.m. ET. The game lasted 1:28 and 2, 388 people attended the game.

February 14, 1997
Florida’s 4-3 eight-inning loss to Northwestern in Gainesville marked the first time an SEC team played an extra-inning game.

February 15, 1997
Florida then defeated Florida Atlantic, 1-0, in eight innings for the league’s first extra-innings win. 

February 15, 1997
Jennifer Cordero hit UF's first home run at UF Softball stadium against Loyola (Ill.). It was an inside-the-park homer.

February 19, 1997
The Gators beat No. 17 Florida State in the first game of a doubleheader for their first win over a ranked team.

March 5, 1997
Florida and Arkansas squared off in the first SEC softball game as the Gators earned the first-ever SEC win with a 2-1, nine-inning victory over the Razorbacks.  Chelsey Sakizzie recorded the first pitch, a strike, to Augrista Belford at 6:01:10 p.m. ET and went on to strike Belford out.   The following is a list of SEC softball firsts:

  • First hit in a SEC game by Arkansas's Gretchen Thompson
  • First extra base hit (a double) in a SEC game by Arkansas's Gretchen Thompson
  • First run in a SEC game by Arkansas's Brett Erickson
  • First RBI in a SEC game by Arkansas's Tammy Kincaid, who singled home Brett Erickson
  • First stolen base in a SEC game by UF's Trisha Ward, who stole second in the fifth inning
  • First win in a SEC game at 8:20 p.m. ET; the game lasted 2:20 and 713 people attended.
  • First extra-inning SEC game

March 11, 1997
Tennessee’s Jackie Beavers hurled a three-hit, 1-0 shutout against Florida for the league’s first-ever shutout victory.

March 15, 1997
South Carolina’s Trinity Johnson recorded the SEC’s first no-hitter in a 5-0 victory against the Gators.

May 9, 1997
Florida and Alabama faced each other in the first SEC Tournament game in the league’s history.  Alabama’s Christy Caccavo threw the first pitch, a ball, to Florida’s Amy Criswell.  The first hit of the augural tournament was a home run by the Crimson Tide’s Kierstin Arntsen off UF’s Chrlsey Sakizzie in the first inning.

March 7, 1998
Chelsey Sakizzie threw UF's first perfect game against Iowa State in the Speedline Invitational, striking out 10 batters in nine innings to capture a 1-0 victory.

March 17, 1998
The Gators entered the USA Today/NCFA Coaches Top-25 Poll for the first time, appearing at the No. 25 position. Chelsey Sakizzie was the first UF player to be named SEC Pitcher of the Week. She went on to earn that honor twice again the same season.

March 28, 1998
Emily Marino hit Florida’s first out-of-the-park home run at the UF Softball stadium in the last game of the Tennessee series, securing a 5-3 Gator victory.

May 3, 1998
UF captured its first SEC regular-season title. The Gators entered the stretch in second place in the SEC standings with a 19-5 overall SEC record, as No. 10 LSU held the top position with a league record of 22-3. Thanks to a combination of Florida's four-game sweep over SEC East Division rival Georgia and Alabama taking three-of-four games from LSU the same weekend, the Gators moved to the top of the SEC regular-season standings.

May 5, 1998
The Gators, boasting a 47-20 overall and 23-5 SEC record, received their first berth into the NCAA tournament as the No. 3 seed in the Region 6 bracket. The Gators fell to host team South Florida, 1-0, and Arizona State, 1-0.

May 6, 1998
Chelsey Sakizzie became Florida’s first SEC Softball Player of the Year and Coach Larry Ray was named SEC Softball Coach of the Year.

Jan. 27, 1999
The Gators opened their spring season as a ranked team for the first time as they were voted No. 20 in the USA Today/NFCA Coaches Poll.

Feb. 12, 1999
UF opened against a ranked team for the first time with No. 11 DePaul.  The Gators won 3-2, as junior Beth Dieter earned the win to become the first Gator walkon to earn the No. 1 pitching spot.

April 11, 1999
Nicole Kreipl became the first Gator to have her name in the NCAA record book as she tied for first with three doubles in a single game in a 9-1 victory over Florida A&M.

March 9, 1999
A four-game South Carolina series marked the first time UF opened conference play against a ranked opponent, it was also the first time UF began SEC action against the Gamecocks. The Gators captured the first SEC victory of any league team this season with a 4-3 come-from-behind victory over No. 13 South Carolina in Gainesville.

Feb. 11, 2000
Coach Larry Ray coached his 200th game in his fourth year at the helm of the Gator program. UF won 3-2 in eight innings against Stetson.

April 28, 2000
The Gators set the UF home wins record with their 24th triumph against No. 21 Mississippi State. UF finished the season 28-7 at the Florida Softball Stadium.

May 9, 2000
Seniors Jennifer Cordero, Beth Dieter, Jennifer Lutsi and Lora Pinkerton, and juniors Ashley Boone and Emily Marino, and sophomore Andrea Zimbardi were named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll, setting a school record of seven student-athletes.

May 14, 2000
Jennifer Mossadeghi was the first UF freshman to be named to the SEC All-Tournament Team. She set a league tournament single-game record with two doubles against Arkansas the day before.

May 19, 2000
Florida recorded its first run in an NCAA Tournament game to earn its first post-season win. The Gators upset No. 1 seed and No. 6 ranked Fresno State, 1-0.

June 16, 2001
Karen Johns was named the second coach of the UF softball program.

Aug. 18, 2001
Construction on the locker room facility began. The building housed a locker room, shower area, equipment room and team meeting area. It was completed for the start of the 2001 season. Jim McGinley of Alachua, Fla., was the architect, and Burns Brothers Inc. of Gainesville, Fla., was the contractor.

February 18, 2002
The Gators defeated North Carolina, 10-0, in their season opener at the Katie Seashole Pressly Softball Stadium. In the third game of the GRU Classic, freshmen pitchers Amanda Knowles and Brittani Houghton combined for the first opening-day no hitter and the first combined no hitter by two freshmen in the program's history.

October 21, 2002
Five members of the team were named National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Academic All-Americans. Sophomore Nikki Baldwin, junior Jenilee Garner, senior Andrea Zimbardi and freshman Jessica Franklin earned the honor for the first time in their careers. Senior Jennifer Brown earned the honor for the second time in her career.

April 18, 2003
Junior right-handed pitcher Jenny Gladding pitched the third no-hitter of her career and hit a home run to lead Florida to its first of two shutout wins against Tennessee in Gainesville, Fla.  Days later she became the first player program history to be recognized for as a national player of the week as she was named USA Softball National Player of the Week.

April 27, 2003
The Gators broke the school record for stolen bases in a game with 12 as they defeated the Mississippi State Bulldogs, 6-1, in Gainesville, Fla.

February 21, 2004
The Florida softball team recorded its 11th straight win with an 8-2 win over Houston in Houston, Texas. With the win, the Gators set a new school record with an 11-game winning streak. The previous record was nine games set in 2001.

March 11, 2004
The team recorded the program’s 300th win with a 9-4 victory over Michigan State in Fullerton, Calif.

March 24, 2004
Florida wrapped up a series win against Alabama with a 5-1 victory in Tuscaloosa, Ala., winning the first series over the Crimson Tide since the 1997 season.

May 7, 2005
The No. 23 Florida Softball team ensured the sixth 40-win season in the nine-year history of the program with a doubleheader sweep of Kentucky in Lexington, Ky.

June 21, 2005
Tim Walton was hired as Florida’s third head softball coach.

May 6, 2006
Florida recorded its 400th win with a doubleheader sweep of South Carolina at the Katie Seashole Pressly Softball Stadium.

May 20, 2007
UF advanced to its first-ever NCAA Super Regional with a 3-0 win over Texas in Gainesville, Fla.

April 16, 2008
Florida tallied its 500th program win in a doubleheader sweep of instate-rival Florida State with 6-1 and 14-4 wins. 

May 10, 2008
The team won its first-ever SEC Tournament title after defeating Alabama, 4-1, in Baton Rouge, La., on a grand slam by senior Mary Ratliff.

May 18, 2008
Florida fell to UCF, 1-0, in eight innings in the NCAA Regional action, bringing its 37-game win streak to a halt.  The Gators set the longest winning streak and the longest home win streak of 41 games in program history.

May 24, 2008
The top-seeded University of Florida softball team made its first-ever trip to Oklahoma City, Okla., for the Women’s College World Series after defeating California in the Super Regionals in Gainesville, Fla., hosting the NCAA event for the first time.

May 28, 2008
Five softball players earn NFCA/Louisville Slugger All-America honors, the most in a single season the program’s history. Juniors Stacey Nelson and Ali Gardiner, were named to the first team, freshman Aja Paculba and sophomore Francesca Enea, earned second-team honors and junior Kim Waleszonia was named to the third team.

June 2, 2008
Florida became the first team in NCAA history to record 70 wins in a season with a 70-5 record. Each of Florida’s losses were by only one run, four of them 1-0 losses, and opponents only scored seven runs against the Gators in their defeats.

January 27, 2009
For the first time in the history of the program, the Gators open the season with the No. 1 overall ranking in the ESPN.com/USA Softball and USA Today/NCFA preseason polls.

April 4, 2009
Head Coach Tim Walton tallied his 200th win as the head coach of the Florida Gators in only his fourth season.  He became the first UF coach to reach the 200-victory mark.  

April 18, 2009
With two shutout victories over LSU in Baton Rouge, the Gators clinched their second SEC regular-season title as head coach Tim Walton recorded his first two wins over the Tigers in their home stadium.

May 6, 2009
A record seven Gators earned All-SEC honors, including senior Stacey Nelson taking home her second SEC Pitcher of the Year award and first-team honors.  Also on the first team were sophomores Aja Paculba and Kelsey Bruder while senior Ali Gardiner, junior Francesca Enea and sophomore Stephanie Brombacher and Megan Bush were on the third team.  Tim Walton earned his second SEC Coach of the Year award. 

May 9, 2009
Top-seeded University of Florida defeats Alabama for the second year in a row to win the SEC Tournament.

May 26, 2009
Senior Stacey Nelson became the first Florida student-athlete in any sport to earn the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award, which focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages those leaders to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact. 

May 27, 2009
Five softball players earn NFCA/Louisville Slugger All-American honors. Senior Stacey Nelson was named to the first team while sophomores Stephanie Brombacher Kelsey Bruder and Aja Paculba, along with junior Francesca Enea, were named to the second team. 

Nelson led a group of four players named ESPN The Magazine Academic All-Americans by CoSIDA, the most in a single year in the program’s history.  Nelson earned the Gators’ first-ever Academic All-American of the Year, along with first-team honors with fellow senior Kristina Hilberth.  Senior Ali Gardiner and Brombacher garnered third-team honors.

May 31, 2009
The Gator softball team advances to its first Women’s College World Series championship series by defeating the Alabama on a walk-off grand slam by senior Ali Gardiner. With 86 home runs on the season, the Gators set a new SEC single-season record.  They also recorded the most walks ever in the league with 274.

June 15, 2009
Recent senior Stacey Nelson was named to the USA Softball Women’s National Team and the USA Softball Japan Cup Team, becoming the first UF player to earn a spot on the national team.

October 5, 2009
Florida ranked fifth in the nation with a 3.49 team GPA, marking the highest ranking in program history and the first time the Gators cracked the top 10.  UF was the highest ranking team that made the 2009 tournament.  Earlier in the year, the Gators named a school-record 14 players to the SEC Academic Honor Roll.

 

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