Seems like just yesterday that the collegiate baseball season began, and here we are—NCAA Regionals. The brand-new Florida Ballpark, in its inaugural season, will be the host for the part of the NCAA Tournament. The Gators take on the USF Bulls Friday at noon. Head coach Kevin O’Sullivan provided insight earlier Thursday on their upcoming opponent and the ups and downs of the entire season.
Sullivan Talks Regionals
Florida is the only ranked team in the Gainesville regional sliding in at No. 15. However, rankings are just a number and all teams in any tournament are at the top of their game. O’Sullivan emphasizes that while the likelihood of facing familiar foe Miami on Saturday is high, that is not where the Gator mindset is.
Their first obstacle is USF. O’Sullivan alerted pitcher Tommy Mace immediately following the selection show that he would be taking the mound Friday. Mace the Ace has been consistent from the hill in 2021. He has accumulated 109 strikeouts and only 20 walks. His ERA sits at 4.32.
Mace said that his team had been through their fair share of “growing pains” in this season. The challenges, triumphs and failures have concocted a potential Omaha-bid team.
O’Sullivan later went on to discuss the best he saw his team play—against Arkansas. One of the biggest takeaways from the Arkansas three-loss series was the quality of those losses. O’Sullivan explains that the series in Fayetteville was arguably on the best series the orange and blue played in.
How can there be such positives after getting swept? Simple. Arkansas sits at top almost all national rankings and has not lost a series all year. They were the SEC regular season champions as well as the SEC tournament champions.
Despite losing, the Gators hung with the Razorbacks. Most games were determined in the seventh of eighth innings. Starting pitching was efficient. The bats were good at striking first. Ultimately, the Razorbacks put their stamp on the series winning all three with decent-sized leads.
Hickey On Pitching
Nathan Hickey also spoke with media about the upcoming matchup as well as the growth he has seen in the Florida pitching staff. Hickey spent plenty of the season crouched down, layered in gear behind the plate. He was on the receiving end for the good and bad innings.
He has seen the growth in almost all the starters this season, including Mace. Mace will take the hill on Friday at 12 p.m. as the Gators begin their quest back to Omaha.