Jun 19, 2016; Omaha, NE, USA; Florida Gators runner Deacon Liput (8) celebrates with teammates after scoring against the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers in the 2016 College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park. Coastal Carolina won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports They haven’t yet taken the stage at McKethan stadium yet, but the Florida Gator Baseball team is predicted to dominate on the clay this season.
Baseballamerica.com ranked the Gator squad at No. 3 in the 2017 College Baseball Preview, only behind No. 1 Texas Christian University and Florida State. It’ll take months of grinding on the diamond to see if the predictions reign true, but as the season opener looms near on February 17, Florida has a lot to look forward to.
Building Off Of Success
Florida finished off the 2016 season 52-16 with a trip to Omaha but wasn’t their first appearance at the big dance. Kevin O’Sullivan has taken the Gators to the College World Series five times in his nine years as head coach. Right now, he’s on an active streak of making it the past two season but never in program history have the Gators come home with it all. Last season, they went 0-2 in the tournament with one run losses to eventual champions Coastal Carolina and Texas Tech.
Even still, it was a record-breaking year, as the Gators turned in the best regular season (44-11) in program history and equaled the second-most wins in school history with a 52-16 final record. Against in-state rival Florida State, the Gators finished 2016 with a 5-1 record against the Seminoles, who they eliminated in the Gainesville Super Regional. With @NCAACWS trips in years under O’Sullivan the #Gators are knocking. @BaseballAmerica Breakdown: https://t.co/fjTeawmKUf pic.twitter.com/B3vZ4M8qfK — Gators Baseball (@GatorsBB) January 23, 2017 The 2016 team finished with a highly decorated roster: five All-Americans, three First Team honors, two freshman All-American selections and the SEC Pitcher of the Year. This stellar lineup took many of the stars to the draft, twelve in all. Now, the team and O’Sullivan will have to find out how to fill the gaps and who will step up to the plate.
Who They Lost
The biggest hole left in the Gators’ lineup is slugger and first baseman Peter Alonso; he led the team in batting, OBP, slugging, homers and RBIs. Alonso was selected in the second round of the draft, along with their other most dependable source at the plate, center fielder Buddy Reed.
From the hill, the Gators will miss the presence of SEC Pitcher of the Year Logan Shore and first-round picks left-hander A.J. Puk and righthander Dane Dunning. Shaun Anderson (second round) and lefty Scott Moss (fourth round) lead the team with the lowest ERA, 0.97 and 1.57, respectively. Kirby Snead, who may not have gone as high in the draft, was a dependable arm for the Gators last season. He appeared in more games (41) than any other arm. Jun 19, 2016; Omaha, NE, USA; Florida Gators shortstop Dalton Guthrie […]