LOD College World Series Preview: Florida Gators
The College World Series is set. After a regional round that saw many teams play in monsoon like weather and a Super Regional that saw six of its eight series go to a game three, we finally have our final eight teams standing. Let’s take a look at the schools that have punched their ticket to Omaha. Today we start with the Florida Gators.
Florida Gators (47-19), Number One National Seed, 12th CWS Appearance, One CWS Title (2017)
The Gators virtually went wire to wire as the best team in the nation this season. However, after a historical start, the club did stumble a little bit towards the end of the regular season and were blown out by LSU in the quarterfinals of the SEC tournament. Despite the lackluster performances late, the Gators still earned the number one national seed and to be honest, they have been fighting to stay alive ever since. You have to give it to them, there is something to be said for a team that can grind out an ugly W.
The Gainesville regional wasn’t an easy one for the hometown Gators. After beating Columbia in their first game, they squeaked out a one run win over second seeded Jacksonville. The Gators were sitting pretty coming out of the winner’s bracket to take on in state foe, Florida Atlantic. The Owls took game one setting us up for a winner take all game two and a very real possibility that the national number one seed wouldn’t make it out of their own regional. But, the cream always rises to the top. Florida pitchers Jack Leftwich, Tommy Mace, and Michael Byrne combined to strikeout 13 Owls and allow just two runs in the deciding game, securing a Super Regional appearance for the Gators.
Things didn’t get any easier for the Gators in the supers as they took on Southeastern Conference rival Auburn. After splitting games one and two, the Gators and Tigers needed extra innings in game three to decide who was going to Omaha. A dramatic walk off homerun in the bottom of the eleventh off of the bat of Austin Langworthy, and the glove of Auburn rightfielder Steven Williams, ultimately sent the nation’s number one seed home to pack their bags for Omaha.
Top Position Player
Third baseman Jonathan India was drafted fifth overall by the Cincinnati Reds after an outstanding season. The 21 year old Florida native has hit .354 in 212 at bats so far this season. He also led the SEC in the regular season in homers and his total is now up to 20. India has also showcased his speed with 12 stolen bases.
Brady Singer played a pivotal role in the Gators run to their first National Title last year and he will be the staff ace in Omaha again this year. The Royals first round draft pick, Singer and his 96 mph fastball got off to a slow start this season, but he has really turned things around down the stretch. Singer went 12-1 with a 2.30 ERA while striking 107 and walking just 21 in 101 innings.
First CWS Game: Sunday June 17th vs Texas Tech
Featured Image Courtesy of: Cyndi Chambers – The Gainesville Sun