Gators receive Top 10 softball national preseason rankings

Special to Gatorsports.com

 Florida's softball team will enter the 2021 season ranked No. 7 in the USA Today/National Fastpitch Association DI Top 25 Preseason Coaches Poll and No. 6 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 Poll.

UF has ranked inside the top 10 in both major preseason polls every season dating back to 2014.

The Gators are scheduled to open the season Feb. 13-14, for a three-game series against USF in Tampa. It’ll be the first collegiate competition the team will have seen in 340 days since the 2020 season abruptly came to an end because of COVID-19.

The last game for the Gators occurred March 11, with UF defeating Florida State, 5-2, at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium. Florida finished the shortened season with an overall record of 23-4 and 3-0 mark in Southeastern Conference action.

The Gators went 5-4 against top 25 competition last season and are scheduled to take on nine opponents ranked inside the top 25 of both polls this upcoming year.

The Gators return a majority of the roster for 2021, including three-time NFCA All-American Kendyl Lindaman. Lindaman (.410 BA) is one of six Gators who batted over .300 last season that return to anchor the offense. She joins Charla Echols (.417 BA), Cheyenne Lindsey (.381 BA), Hannah Adams (.375 BA), Jaimie Hoover (.325 BA), and Julia Cottrill (.323 BA) who all combined to hit .378 (155-of-410).

Lindaman and Lindsey both earned SEC Player of the Week honors last season and Cottrill was named SEC Freshman of the Week once.

In the circle, Florida returns pitchers Katie Chronister (1.08 ERA), Natalie Lugo (1.64 ERA), Rylee Trlicek (1.99 ERA) and Elizabeth Hightower (2.55 ERA).

Lugo and Trlicek were named SEC Pitcher of the Week once each, while Lugo led the NCAA in saves last season with six and Trlicek was tabbed Softball America’s Freshman Pitcher of the Year.