Florida

Fox On The Run: Going One-on-One with Florida’s Cade Kurland

Cade Fox Kurland has always stood out among his peers in the world of baseball. From when he was kicked out of a Little League game at three years old for being “too young” to play to the countless number of records he broke in his time at Berkeley Preparatory School, the UF sophomore second baseman has always been destined for greatness.

Kurland has all the qualities of a superstar in the making. In his freshman season, he quickly settled in as Florida’s starting second baseman. Kurland finished the 2023 campaign with a .297 batting average, 17 home runs, 50 RBIs and 75 runs

His 17 long balls set a program record for the most home runs from a second baseman, and his strong overall performance on the year earned him a First Team All-SEC nod.

But above all else, one trait has defined Kurland’s success and allowed him to separate himself from the pack: his fervent mentality.

“I just want to win,” Kurland said. “I want to win and compete. That’s pretty much all there is to it.”

Kurland has plenty of eyes on him as he enters his sophomore season with UF. Yet, even as he faces more pressure than ever before, he only has one thing on his mind: returning to Omaha. 

He is ready to help lead the Gators in their quest to return to the College World Series. Last year, Florida made it all the way to the CWS Finals before falling short to the eventual-champion LSU Tigers. But this time, Kurland envisions a different ending for his squad.

“I think the only goal we have is to win an SEC ring, and then go back to Omaha and win the last game of the season,” Kurland said. “If we do that, then all my personal goals will be attained in the process.”

Florida
Florida Gators baseball player Cade Kurland has already blossomed into a star in the making over the last year.
(Photo from floridagators.com)

Growing Up In A House Divided

Orange and blue has run in Kurland’s blood for generations. His mother originally attended UF, while his uncle and grandfather both played football for the Gators. 

But ironically enough, the person who introduced Kurland to the game of baseball was not a Gator, but a Gamecock. Kurland’s father, a University of South Carolina alumnus, originally signed him up to play in little league when he was as young as two years old. 

Having played soccer in his time with the Gamecocks, he was not all too knowledgeable with the game of baseball. But what the senior Kurland lacked in formal knowledge, he made up for with his drive and competitive spirit.

“My dad would always take me to the field when I was little and throw me balls until it got dark,” Kurland said. “Having him is priceless. I wouldn’t be here without him … He taught me how to compete and work hard, all those important qualities that have given me success today.”

As he grew older, Kurland had already drawn interest from baseball programs across the nation. By the time he reached eighth grade, he received an offer from none other than his dream school: the University of Florida. He put the pen to paper and officially committed to the Gators soon after.

“It honestly didn’t feel real,” Kurland said. “[Joining the Gators] was just one of those things where it seems so much bigger than you, and then it finally comes to where it’s your time to come and play here, and it was just surreal.”

Prior to arriving in Gainesville, Kurland continued to grow throughout his tenure at Berkeley Preparatory School. In his senior season, Kurland received a MaxPreps All-American nod after leading his squad to the state championship game. He was named the Class 3A Player of the Year.

By the time he graduated from Berkeley, Kurland had broken all kinds of records. As of today, he leads the school all-time in hits, runs, RBIs, stolen bases and home runs. Little did anyone know that young Cade Kurland was just getting started.

Kurland Makes A Splash In The 352

Upon arriving in Gainesville, Kurland instantly made his presence felt on the diamond. As a true freshman, he started in 67 of Florida’s 71 games. Amidst a Gators squad loaded with future MLB talent, Kurland ranked top five in batting average, OPS (.959), home runs, RBIs and runs scored.

“Coming in off the fall and preseason, I didn’t necessarily think I was going to be the day one starter, but I knew that I could be one of the contributing factors,” Kurland said. “No matter what my role was, I was going to keep my head down, work hard and compete for the overall well-being of the team.”

Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan has praised Kurland for his hitting prowess and composure at the plate. When asked about his mentality in the batter’s box, Kurland kept his response short and sweet.

“I love to do damage,” Kurland said. “When I’m at the plate, I just want to do damage. That’s what I live by.”

Kurland has also singled out O’Sullivan as a major contributor to his growth, both as a player and person. He noted how the Gators coach has always supported him, no matter how high or how low he goes.

“What I appreciate about [O’Sullivan] so much is that he’s so real and honest,” Kurland said. “He keeps me in check. If I mess something up, he’ll tell me how it is, and it’s up to me to fix that.”

Kurland’s breakthrough performance in the 2023 campaign earned him recognition from all over the country. Multiple publications (including Baseball America and D1 Baseball) named him a freshman All-American, making him the 23rd player in O’Sullivan’s tenure to earn the honor.

Building Onto The Culture In Florida

Despite being one of the younger players on this Gators squad, Kurland has already established himself as a strong presence in the clubhouse. His air of confidence and vocality have already come into play as he continues to develop as a leader for this Florida team.

“A lot of value comes in with hard work and discipline,” Kurland said. “Leading by example is something that I take pride in, and doing the right thing when no one else is watching.”

Kurland attributes both his individual success and the success of the team as a whole to their cohesiveness and faith in one another. While Florida has loads of talent across its roster, Kurland believes the team’s collective attitude of selflessness has allowed them to stand out among the rest of the country.

“You can have all the talent in the world, but if your team doesn’t come together and truly play for each other and play to win, you won’t get anything out of it,” Kurland said. “Everyone has their own individual goals. It’s inevitable. But what we preach is that … If you wrap yourself up on the team, and you focus on winning, then all of your personal goals will be achieved.”

While he has already racked up numerous accolades and wowed fans across the country with his play, Kurland has always maintained a team-first mindset. He could not care less about how many hits he racks up or how far he can hit the ball past the Condron Ballpark fence, he said. Above al else, he just wants to win baseball games. Plain and simple.

BT Riopelle (15) celebrates at home plate with Josh Rivera (far left), Jac Caglianone (14) and Cade Kurland (4) after a grand slam. Photo courtesy of Emma Bissell.

Fox Prepares To Go Back On The Hunt

As the Gators start the season, Kurland already has plenty to live up to in his sophomore season. While some players would crumble under the pressure, Kurland simply shrugs it off. He remains solely focused on the present moment and the task at hand.

“It’s important to take confidence and the experience from last year and transfer over to this year,” Kurland said. “But in terms of adding pressure to meet those and to go beyond that, I think it would get myself in my own way.”

With Florida back in a prime position to avenge its loss in the 2023 MCWS Finals, Kurland will play a key role in the team’s road back to Omaha. He has already faced his share of ups and downs in the first two weeks of the season, from knocking six hits in his first four outings to taking a pitch to the hand that knocked him out of a weekend series against the Columbia Lions.

But as he prepares to return to the lineup this week, Cade Fox Kurland is ready for whatever else may lie ahead. Just like the animal itself, this Fox is sly, stealthy and ready to pounce on whatever prey is unfortunate enough to cross his path.

About Jack Meyer

Jack Meyer is a third-year student at the University of Florida. He is majoring in Journalism and specializing in Sports and Media.

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