Putting it in ink


Florida's players Justine McLean, left, and Delanie Gourley show off their national championship tattoos. The tattoos honor their back-to-back NCAA championships.

Matt Stamey/staff photographer
Published: Thursday, May 26, 2016 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, May 25, 2016 at 11:14 p.m.

Amanda Lorenz really wants a tattoo.

Really, really wants one.

Not because she's a freshman in college away from home or because she wants to make a statement in ink.

She wants one because of what it would mean.

“I can't wait,” Lorenz said. “It would be my first one. I don't know if my parents would be too happy.”

Inkmasters in Gainesville don't need to fire up their needles quite yet. Florida still has a long way to go to win another softball national title and the tattoos for the players that come with each one.

Tonight, Florida hopes to take the biggest step toward Oklahoma City in a Super Regional against SEC rival Georgia. Whoever takes two-of-three games tonight and Friday will advance to the Women's College World Series.

Then, the hill gets really steep with the eight best teams in college softball and only one survivor.

Maybe that's one reason it was so easy for Kirsti Merritt to make a bet with coach Tim Walton in 2013. Or vice versa.

She was a fresh-faced freshman playing in the WCWS for the first time.

“I told him, 'If we win, we gotta get one,' ” she said. “It would have been such a big moment in my life. But I didn't make the bet the next year.”

The next year — 2014 — Florida did win it all for the first time in school history. Current senior Kelsey Stewart and then-senior Hannah Rogers had the idea for the tats.

“We were, like, if we win, let's get tattoos,” Stewart said. “And then, everyone was, like, noooo.

“And then every single person was at the tattoo shop.”

The tattoos were simple for the most part, the date of the national title win over Alabama in Roman numerals — VI-III-XIV.

June 3, 2014.

Then along came another one.

National title, that is.

Merritt, who has her tattoo on her rib, added a flower for Heather Braswell, the young girl who inspired the sunflowers the ladies wear in their hair, the young fighter who passed away during the 2014 season.

Stewart got a whole new tattoo on her left foot to match her right foot. Delanie Gourley's is on her wrist, also with a flower and “Back to back.”

“I love tattoos,” Gourley said. “Nobody else in the world can say they did what we did that day.”

But it's this day that matters. That tattoos are covered up by wrist tape, shoes and uniforms.

No. 1 Florida can't add to the ink unless it wins in OKC, but it can't even think about it if it doesn't make it to the WCWS. To do that, the Gators will have to beat a team that ranks fourth in the nation in batting average.

Georgia, the 16th seed in the tournament, would like nothing better than to continue the rivalry between the two programs, two schools, two states by cutting the Florida dream short.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at pat.dooley@gvillesun.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.

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