Florida Gators baseball is set to kickoff spring practice on Friday. The Gators enter the season ranked No. 7 according to D1Baseball.com after a 42-24 season last year.
As baseball starts up, here are a couple of things keep an eye on heading towards the start of the season.
Rewrite the Script
The Gators’ 2022 season came to a conclusion at home with a devastating defeat to the Oklahoma Sooners. Florida saw a 3-1 lead slip away in the eighth inning and couldn’t climb all the way back in the ninth. Heading into spring practice, the goal for the Gators and head coach Kevin O’Sullivan is certainly to once again be able to host a regional. However, the goal likely goes beyond that. Instead, to Omaha and the College World Series.
O’Sullivan, now in his 16th season with the Gators, led the program to four straight CWS appearances from 2015-2018 but hasn’t led a group back since.
Big Names Return for Gators Baseball
The Gators will return some of their best talent from last year’s campaign. Wyatt Langford, who was named a Preseason First Team All-American by Collegiate Baseball and Perfect Game, will return to the Gators’ outfield where he shined last year. Langford finished his All-American season with an SEC-leading 26 homeruns, while maintaining a .355 batting average. His talent with the bat is undeniable, but his prowess in the field should not be overlooked. He had a 1.000 fielding percentage across 125 chances in the outfield last season.
MLB Draft pick Brandon Sproat will also return for the Gators, despite being drafted in the third round by the Mets. Sproat will be a force in the rotation for Florida, especially if he is able to replicate how he pitched down the stretch last year. In his last six starts, Sproat went 5-0 with a 1.59 ERA.
Langford and Sproat headline a group of 23 returning players. In addition, Florida brings in a talented group of freshmen, which was ranked the No. 5 rookie class by D1Baseball.
Sproat will enter spring practice towards the top of the rotation and will likely be aside Hurston Waldrep. Both Sproat and Waldrep earned Preseason All-American honors from Collegiate Baseball. Waldrep comes to the Gators after two dominant years at Southern Mississippi. He finished the 2022 campaign with a 6-2 record, 3.20 ERA and 140 strikeouts. He also tossed two complete games and one shutout.
The combination of Sproat and Waldrep will be lethal for opponents, especially come three game SEC showdowns later in the season. Waldrep is currently listed as the No. 14 college prospect for the upcoming MLB Draft according to D1Baseball.
Public Spring Practice
Condron Family Ballpark will once again be open to the public for spring practice. Spectators are welcome to attend all spring practices and scrimmages leading up to opening day.
The first practice for the Gators will be Friday at 2:15 p.m., followed by an intersquad scrimmage.
The spring sessions all leads up to opening day for the Gators. The season gets under way on February 17 when Florida kicks off a three-game series against Charleston Southern.