Do you have another player that can provide that spark or help Kim with
TW: The biggest bright spots from the fall were Kristina Hilberth, Mary Ratliff, and Ali Gardiner. Those three people really stood to lose the most at having the new group come in. They have done a great job of replacing leadership roles and becom- ing leaders by their work ethic. They’ve all maintained their position and gotten better at their position. That is the only way you survive as a team, by getting better with your returners or having better newcomers come in to take the position. They have done an outstanding job of really pushing themselves to a whole other level. The improvement of the new players and the depth they provide, again looking at their athleticism, is tremendous, but I think the biggest bright spot of the newcom- ers has been the ability of Le-Net Franklin to get better, buying into the system and to improve every single day. She is really starting to play with a lot of confidence that a two-time All-American junior college player should. She is showing us all the tools
she has. Stephanie Brombacher had a great fall. She did a great job in just learning
2008 Florida Softball
2008 Florida Softball Preview
Q&A with Head Coach Tim Walton
What are some of the best things that you saw come out of the fall as far as talent from the new kids, improvement from the returners and specific things you saw improve from last year?
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TW: I think the biggest strengths from my newcomers are athleticism and their background as winners. All of our incoming players have been very successful ath- letically. They’ve won championships along the way at the highest level of softball in their age divisions, so those things are good. They’re highly competitive, but I think their overall athleticism and experience as winners is going to be a huge lift.
TW: We have Le-Net Franklin who provides a lot of the same type of game, but on a different level. Kristina Hilberth is surely working towards that, providing leadership. We have a quiet leader who is really going to lead us in some offensive categories this year in Aja (Paculba). She is fun to watch and does not demand a lot of attention. She doesn’t have the charisma that Kim has. She just plays extremely hard, can hit and run and will show you some great athleticism.
Has it been difficult to build some of the cohesion and chemistry having a team split half in half between returners and newcomers?
TW: I think the newcomers kind of bonded as newcomers and the returners bond-
the system with taking over and really dominating some games she pitched. Megan Bush, who is a very steady short stop, and Aja Paculba, who is a very steady second baseman, are going to continue with those things. Kristine Priebe is getting better, and Kristin Adkins is improving every day. Danyell Hines had played a great center field in the absence of Brooke Johnson. Had Kristina Hilberth not taken her game to another level, Tiffany DeFelice would be the starting catcher right now. Tiffany had a great fall defensively and has been great with the pitching staff and is going to be a really great catcher. Those improvements right there are great. Shaunice Harris, at third base is very steady. You see her coming out of nowhere and making plays. She plays extremely hard.
What do you see as the biggest strengths from having a big group of new- comers and strengths from those newcomers that you have specifically?
For the first time in school history we have two returning All-Americans. What are you looking for in those players and how can they improve on their performance to be All-Americans again?
Tim Walton: You first look at Stacey Nelson and what she was able to accomplish last year as an individual pitcher. You are only as good as the surrounding cast you have. I really feel like we have put a better surrounding cast around her this year. We may not be as senior-led. We may not have as much experience. We may not be as big of gamers as we had last year yet, but I think what we have done in the past is going to definitely help our future and her. She had a very good fall. She is leading our team in every categor , from bench press to squat, from sprints to three-mile runs. I think from that standpoint, she is going to be willing to put our team on her back again and do whatever it takes. I am very excited to have her back as a junior. She is only getting better. Kim will continue to improve and will only get better as we go through the season. She is a playmaker and a very fun person to watch. She plays extremely hard. I am looking forward to getting her on the field and allowing her to be herself. Making no excuses about what is going on in her life, but she has had a difficult fall. I think softball is a release and a benefit and something she has to look forward to.
ed as returners, but they’ve done a really good job this fall with doing extra things in order to have them really feel as one group. I think we will still build a lot of team chemistry through their strength and conditioning. We have implemented a mandatory training table this year, and you sit with who you know and you start to get more familiar with people, so that has been good. Playing a couple games this fall has helped develop a little bit of the chemistry by playing outside competition and developing a bond and friendship playing on the same field. I think overall the willingness of the returning players to let people into their program and become more of a family and their desire to win has helped that so far.
Which newcomers do you think will make the biggest impact on the team immediately?
TW: The biggest impact players I think are going to be Aja Paculba, Megan Bush, Stephanie Brombacher and Tiffany DeFelice. I think those four are going to impact us probably the biggest as freshmen.
What is it about those players that will allow them to make a big impact in their freshman season?
TW: They are probably going to get the most playing time, so I think that’s prob- ably where you’re going to get the most impact. Megan will start at short stop, Aja will start at second, DeFelice will split time at designated player and catcher, and Stephanie could also split time at D , but probably more importantly will be the number two pitcher and get a lot of minutes.