Florida softball: Tim Walton and the Gators grab top-rated recruiting class on signing day
After appearing in the Women's College World Series last spring, the Florida Gators softball team picked up another notable accomplishment on Wednesday as it welcomed six new members to its program.
Tim Walton's Gators announced the signings of Ava Brown, Alyssa Hovermale, Ariel Kowalewski, Cassidy McLellan, Keagan Rothrock and Mia Williams — making for the top-rated recruiting class of the 2023 cycle, per Extra Innings Softball.
Florida's 2023 national signing day crop beat out back-to-back defending national champion Oklahoma, which hauled in the second-best class of the cycle.
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Florida State, Louisiana State and Texas rounded out Extra Innings' top five.
Here's a look at who will joining the Gators at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium come 2023.
Ava Brown, Keagan Rothrock each come with Gatorade Player of the Year honors
For the second time in program history, Florida softball has notched a signing class with multiple Gatorade Player of the Year winners.
Brown, who hails from Montgomery, Texas, was recognized as Texas' Gatorade Player of the Year in 2022, while Rothrock comes in with a pair of Gatorade Player of the Year recognitions.
Brown's recognition comes on the heels of a junior campaign that saw her post a .405 batting average with 10 home runs, as well as an ERA of 0.46 and 335 strikeouts at Lake Creek High School.
Meanwhile, after helping lead Roncalli High School (Whiteland, Ind.) to a pair of state championships in 2021 and 2022, Rothrock was named Indiana's Gatorade Player of the Year before also being named the National Gatorade Player of the Year.
Rothrock, who ranked as the No. 1 prospect of the 2023 cycle by Softball America, helped Roncalli finish last season 33-0 in posting a .523 batting average with 14 home runs, as well as an ERA of 0.70 with 382 strikeouts.
Mia Williams was born to be a Gator
The daughter of a Jason and Denika Williams, two former athletes at the University of Florida, Mia Williams, who was ranked as the top prospect of 2023 by Extra Innings Softball, was destined to be a Gator.
Jason Williams played for the Florida Gators' men's basketball team during the 1997-98 season before going on to a 13-season career in the NBA. Meanwhile, Denika Williams finished as an All-American track and field athlete at UF.
Now, Mia Williams looks to leave a legacy of her own in Gainesville as she joins Walton and the Gators as a utility player.
In her sophomore campaign at Windermere Prep, Williams posted a .558 batting average with eight home runs, while also tallying 18 stolen bases and a perfect fielding percentage. Stats from Williams' junior year were not available.
Class rounded out by talented trio
Hovermale, Kowalewski and McLellan are all valuable editions to the Gators' roster, which has eight current members listed as seniors, fifth-years or graduate students.
Hovermale, who comes by way of Norco, Calif., committed to Florida on her plane ride back out west after visiting Gainesville. The right-handed infielder was ranked No. 11 in Extra Innings' Elite 100 for the 2023 class.
Meanwhile, Kowalewski is the second signee to hail from the Lone Star State in the Gators' 2023 class. Coming from Richmond, Texas, Kowalewski is a five-time national champion with her club team, Texas Blaze United.
Kowalewski, who plays catcher, batted a jaw-dropping .657 with 13 home runs for Travis High School last season, earning her the No. 13 spot in Extra Innings' Elite 100.
Bringing up the rear of Florida's talented class is McLellan, who joins Williams as in-state pickups for the Gators.
Playing for Lakewood Ranch in Bradenton, McLellan had ties to the Gators' as her former head coach, TJ Goelz, is the father of current Gators, Avery and Kinsey Goelz.
Last season with the Mustangs, McLellan, who is slated to play in the outfield, posted a .561 batting average with three home runs, stole 26 bases and fielded with a .967 rating.