Gator baseball is finally back in action for some fall ball after a very short 2020 spring season.
One of the biggest problems for Gator baseball in the past two to three seasons was the pitching depth. The Gators had a strong weekend starting rotation but failed to show the same dominance during the week and out of the bullpen. That does not seem to be an issue heading into this season, though. Florida’s pitching is deep.
Due to COVID-19, the 2020 MLB Draft was just five rounds. Additionally, the NCAA extended eligibility for spring sports athletes with cut-short seasons. For Gators baseball, this led to the return of weekend starters Tommy Mace and Jack Leftwich. Returners Christian Scott and Nick Pogue have also looked strong in the first week of fall ball. The four veterans combined for 20 strikeouts and just two walks in 16.1 innings pitched.
Head coach Kevin O’Sullivan was most pleasantly surprised with the offense so far this preseason. The coach said he expected the pitching to be deep, but did not expect the success he is seeing from the offense so early.
O’Sullivan specifically pointed to returning catcher, Nathan Hickey, at the plate. Hickey has homered twice so far, one earning the only run scored against Leftwich. Jacob Young currently stands at a .500 batting average with nine hits over 18 at-bats. Young ended last season running an 18-game hit streak. Freshmen Mac Guscette and Sterlin Thompson are also hitting above .300.
With a brand new stadium to play in, O’Sullivan and the Gators are looking ahead at a brand new season. Last season, the team’s campaign was cut short in the middle of March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite not making it to SEC play, the Gators were looking good.
While we don’t know exactly what the 2021 season will look like for the Gators, O’Sullivan says the goal stays the same. The team wants to win, and the excitement is as high as ever.
O’Sullivan says the team will continue to strive to follow and stay educated on COVID-19 protocols as fall ball continues.