University of Florida head softball coach Tim Walton was named the head coach of the National Professional FastPitch’s (NPF) USSSA Florida Pride.In addition to his duties at Florida, Walton will coach the 2010 pro team as the schedule runs through the summer.
“I am grateful to Mr. Don DeDonatis for this opportunity,” Walton said of the Pride’s owner and general manager.“I also want to thank UF Athletics Director Jeremy Foley for allowing me to be involved with the Pride this summer while also attending to my duties at Florida.”
In his fifth year at UF, Walton is the winningest coach in program history, tallying a 262-64 (.804) record with the Gators.Getting his start at WichitaState, he is 386-128 (.751) in his eighth career season.He coached the Gators to the Women’s College World Series twice, including a trip to the championship series, brought home two Southeastern Conference regular-season and tournament titles and earned SEC Coach of the Year twice.UF has made the NCAA Tournament every year of his tenure and hosted Regionals all four times.He has coached 12 All-Americans, 14 NFCA All-Southeast Region honorees, 18 All-SEC selections, two SEC Pitchers of the Year and a Player of the Year and the UF coaching staff has earned NFCA Southeast Regional Coaching Staff of the Year three years running.
“The USSSA Pride has assembled a world class team over the last several months and there is no question that we need a world class coach to lead them this summer,” DeDonatis said. “Coach Walton exemplifies the way a professional team should be run. We are extremely happy with his decision to coach the USSSA Pride.”
Walton will be coaching a familiar face as current senior Francesca Enea (Woodland Hills, Calif.) was drafted ninth overall by the Pride in the senior draft in February.The Orlando squad also took Alabama’s Charlotte Morgan, the reigning SEC Player of the Year, as the first overall pick in the draft.The Pride roster currently boasts seven former Olympians: Andrea Duran, Kelly Kretschman, Lauren Lappin, Caitlin Lowe, Jessica Mendoza, Cat Osterman and Natasha Watley.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Walton said.“Not only will I provide leadership, but I will get the chance to learn from some of the best softball players in the world.This is a tremendous honor to be on the same field as so many great players and I am looking forward to it.”
The Pride kicks off its NPF season on June 9 with the Chicago Bandits with the June 12 game on ESPN 2.The full schedule ends with the league playoffs at the end of August.Home games are played at the UCF Softball Complex or the ESPN Wide World of Sports.