- Mike DiRocco, ESPN Staff Writer
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The Florida softball team, on the brink of elimination from the NCAA playoffs, had three starters suspended by coach Tim Walton for the rest of the season.
Sophomore shortstop Cheyenne Coyle, freshman third baseman Sami Fagan, and sophomore outfielder Kasey Fagan did not play in the Gators' 2-1 loss Friday to Florida Gulf Coast in an NCAA Regional game in Gainesville.
Walton would not say why the three were suspended. But Kevin Fagan -- an assistant football coach at Dunellon, Fla./Dunellon High School and the father of Sami and Kasey -- told the Ocala (Fla.) Star-Banner Friday night that the three had been dismissed from the program because of an altercation and already were receiving offers from other schools.
"I'm handling that internally," Walton said after the loss. "As you go through the end of the season, you have to address where you're at, but as of right now, they're off the team.
"This is something that I have handled as well as I could have handled."
Kevin Fagan said the three players would not be returning to the school.
Sami Fagan was Florida's top hitter (.378), and Coyle had hit 10 home runs and drove in 34 runs. Kasey Fagan was hitting .262.
Katie Medina replaced Coyle at shortstop and went 0-for-2 and committed an error Friday. Briana Little replaced Katie Fagan in the outfield and went 1-for-3, and Sam Holle went 0-for-2 at third base for Sami Fagan.
"I would be crazy to say that (the suspensions) didn't affect the team," Walton said. " I think that losing any teammate is a distraction. Any time you work that hard with so many different people for that long of a time, obviously you have a special fondness to them. You appreciate them and know that they have done a lot.
"Any type of departure of any member of this team that no longer appears on the lineup is a distraction."
School officials said there would be no further comment on the situation.
The Gators (39-18) play Central Florida at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday in an elimination game. Florida has appeared in the Women's College World Series four straight seasons.