The Florida Gator baseball team has high expectations entering the 2014 season.
With the start of the season three months away and no seniors on the roster, Florida will have to rely on its younger players to step up and be key contributors to the team. The recruiting class for the 2014 season consisted of 15 freshmen and 2 junior college transfers. This was the second time during coach Kevin O’Sullivan’s tenure that Baseball America gave Florida the nod for the top recruiting class, with the first in 2009. The new class is already prepared to help the team.
“As a whole their class is awesome”, said shortstop Richie Martin. “They’re working really hard, and they’re motivated, and determined to win- that’s what I like to see.”
Last season, the Gators finished 29-28 overall, and 14-16 in SEC play with one of the most difficult schedules in the nation. But, the team missed the opportunity to make it to Omaha.
This year, the Gators are off to a fresh start with high hopes of reaching the World Series for the fourth time since 2010. But, the Gators will have to rely on their top recruiting class to make it.
“Last season was rough; we had our high points and our low points. Unfortunately a few more low than high, but there’s little things that we went over that we didn’t execute- we just really need to execute better,” said pitcher Danny Young. “I expect us to do much better than last year. I think we have a lot of new faces and a lot of great pieces.”
But it will take more than output from the new players on the team to reach the College World Series. The new and returning players will also need to come together as a team.
“I feel like this year our team is really bonding and coming together as a team,” said Martin. “We’re really striving to work together towards our goal this year.”
The team camaraderie has been helped by some of the more veteran players passing down the knowledge they gained from early in their collegiate careers.
“Last year I was a little nervous for my first game, so the fact that I’ve experienced my first SEC game I feel much more prepared,” said Martin. “So, the most I can do is let the freshman and younger guys know how it’s going to be, get them suited for the game, and let them know I have their back.”
The Gators will begin their 2014 season against Maryland on Friday, February 14 at McKethan Stadium, with first pitch scheduled for 7 p.m.
With so many unfamiliar faces, it will be interesting to see how this young, but talented team responds under pressure.