After 2023 disappointment, Florida Softball looks to rebound in 2024

After suffering a letdown in 2023, the Gators start up their 2024 campaign today against Oregon State
Florida Gators infielder Skylar Wallace (17) gets a fist bump from Head Coach Tim Walton after she
Florida Gators infielder Skylar Wallace (17) gets a fist bump from Head Coach Tim Walton after she / Doug Engle / USA TODAY NETWORK

The 2023 season wasn't up to the standard that we have come to expect from Florida Softball. The Gators were not selected to host Regionals and subsequently bowed up without making Super Regionals, something that has been close to automatic for Tim Walton and crew.

And perhaps this season without a lofty preseason ranking the Gators can get back to the grind and work their way back up to the upper echelons of the college softball world.

Florida Softball: Only Way Is Up

Last season, the Gators looked like they were going to be a shoe in to reach Oklahoma City once again. Florida was mercy ruling almost everyone to open the season and started 10-0 and were ranked third in the country.

But cracks within the pitching staff began to show along with a lineup that was extremely top heavy, and Florida ended the season 38-22. The 22 losses were the most Florida had suffered since 2007 and the 38 wins were the fewest since 2002 (not counting the COVID cancelled season).

There is new blood in Gainesville to make one believe that 2024 can be different, but it is a group that for the first time in a long time does not have the belief of the rest of the college softball world.

Skylar Wallace is back to lead the way after batting .447 with an on base percentage of .595. Kendra Falby is also back after batting .403.

But what will decide the fate of the 2024 season will be the freshmen the Gators have brought in, headlined by pitchers Ava Brown and Keagan Rothrock. Both players won Gatorade Softball National Player of the Year at some point during their high school career and step into a rotation that only has one pitcher with any collegiate experience, Mackenzie Wooten.

The standard as it has been every year in Gainesville is Oklahoma City or bust. But as college softball continues to grow around the country, the road to Oklahoma City gets tougher and tougher and if the Gators intend to return in 2024, they might just have to get there the hard way.

The Gators are opening their season with a weekend long invitational at USF in Tampa. Their first game is Friday against Oregon State.