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Why Elizabeth Hightower Chose Florida

(Photo by Hannah White via Florida Athletics)

From a young age, Elizabeth Hightower knew she wanted to play college softball at a high level. Now a senior at the University of Florida, Hightower is ready to lead the Gators to another deep postseason run in 2022.

After playing behind Kelly Barnhill early on in her college softball career, Hightower had a breakout junior campaign that included multiple accolades. This season, she is currently 4-0 with a 0.69 ERA.

We caught up with the Florida pitcher to see what originally drew her to the Gators, what last season was like for her, as well as what to expect from her squad for the rest of this year.

Softball America: Why did you decide to stick with softball?

Elizabeth Hightower: From a very young age, I played multiple sports. Softball was one of them. Eventually I had to choose between cheerleading and softball. I liked playing in the dirt, and the competitive aspect of it, so I ended up picking softball.

SA: Why did you choose to play college softball at Florida?

EH: It all came down to Florida and one other school. Florida was coming off winning their second championship in 2015 when I was being recruited. On my visit, everything felt right. Playing for Coach Walton was also what drew me to Florida. He is a consistent, tough coach that will make you work hard and expects a lot from you, and it was the right fit.

SA: Who was the most impactful person to get you into the sport?

EH: My dad influenced me later in my softball career. I did not have coaching parents around, so he and I have bonded over softball and he's played a big role in my softball career.

SA: What tips do you have for players who are currently going through the recruiting process?

EH: I would say develop a relationship with coaches, as well as researching the school and academic aspect. Find the right fit for you. I would ask if you could see yourself at a college without the softball aspect.

SA: You had a breakout season last year, what was your biggest takeaway from that?

EH: My biggest takeaway from last season is that all of the firsts are over. You know that first shutout of your career, or that first no-hitter. All of that is over. It is time to move on and buckle up, because it is a new season. All the accolades are great, but I would trade them all if it means that we get to end our season in Oklahoma City at the Women’s College World Series in June.

SA: What can we expect from you and the Florida Gators for the rest of this season?

EH: I think we are really fun to watch. Personally, for me, I want to be consistent from the beginning to the end of the season. I want to be the strongest towards the end, as it does not matter how you start, but how you finish. For the team, there are so many new faces that will continue to contribute. It is so cool to see what they all can do.

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