UF roundup: Softball team preseason No. 2

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[Cyndi Chambers/Correspondent]

The Florida softball team will start the season next month ranked No. 2 in the nation thanks to the USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 Coaches’ Poll and ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 released Tuesday.

Florida accumulated 762 points and one first-place vote in the USA Today/NFCA poll. The No. 2 ranking comes in just 37 points behind No. 1 Oklahoma, who received 31 first-place votes. In the Preseason ESPN.com/USA Softball poll, the program racked up 469 points and another No. 2 ranking while OU received 496 points and the No. 1 spot.

Last season, the Gators and the Sooners squared off in Women’s College World Series finals. The opening game of the series turned into the longest game in finals history, while also being the highest-rated game 1 in WCWS championship series history. OU took the 17-inninng thriller 7-5, and clinched the following day with a 5-4 win.

This season, the Gators will face nine other programs ranked inside this year’s preseason top 25 and numerous others that are currently receiving votes.

Florida starts its 2018 campaign at the USF Wilson-DeMarini Tournament against Illinois State (Feb. 9) in Tampa at 4:45 p.m. The first home game at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium, slated for Feb. 14, at 6 p.m., will be against North Florida.

SEC AWARDS

Baumann, McMurtry claim weekly honors

A pair of Gators claim weekly Southeastern Conference gymnastics honors. Senior All-American Alex McMurtry is the SEC Gymnast of the Week and Alyssa Baumann is the SEC Freshman of the Week.

This is the first honor for both this season and the ninth SEC Gymnast or Specialist of Week honor in McMurtry’s career.

Both Gators earned their honors based on their performances last Friday in Florida’s narrow win versus two-time defending NCAA champion Oklahoma. McMurtry posted 10.0s in both vault and balance beam.

Baumann turned in a pair of collegiate-best marks Friday: Balance Beam (9.975) and Floor Exercise (9.925).

Swimming: Caeleb Dressel, Michael Taylor and Taylor Ault garnered SEC Weekly honors for their performance against Tennessee.

Dressel earned his second Male Swimmer of the Week honor of the season, Taylor was named Male Freshman of the Week for the second consecutive week and Ault earned the first Freshman of the Week accolade of her career. Dressel led the Gator men to the win with three first-place finishes.

Taylor swept the backstroke events for the first time in his career against the Volunteers. He posted a B-cut time of 47.71 in the 100 back and followed with a B-cut of 1:44.83 in the 200 back. The freshman also raced in the 200 medley relay – in which he recorded a 21.79 backstroke split. The team finished in second overall with a time of 1:25.67.

Ault raced in four events against the ninth-ranked Volunteers, recording two wins. She swam a B-cut time of 4:47.04 to clinch first place in the 500 free and finished a sweep of the distance events, winning the 1000 free with a time of 9:52.83.