Florida first baseman Jac Caglianone (14) taps helmets with infielder Colby Shelton (10), outfielder Ty Evans (2) and infielder Tyler Shelnut (6) during the first inning of an NCAA baseball matchup at 121 Financial Ballpark in Jacksonville. [Florida Times-Union]

Florida Makes NCAA Baseball Tournament, Plays At Stillwater Regional

Florida can thank its No. 1 strength of schedule for receiving an invite Monday to its 16th consecutive NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament.

The Gators (28-27) will play in the Stillwater (Okla.) Regional as a three seed starting at 3 p.m. ET Friday (ESPN+, ESPN 98.1-FM/850-AM WRUF). They will open against Big Ten Tournament champion Nebraska (39-20), the regional second seed. Host Oklahoma State (40-17), the 11th national seed, plays four seed Niagara (38-15) at 7 p.m.

It’s Florida’s 39th tournament appearance and the 16 in a row, all under coach Kevin O’Sullivan, is the second longest streak in the nation behind Vanderbilt’s 18. It’s just the third time the Gators will travel for a regional in O’Sullivan’s tenure.

Division I Baseball Committee Chairman Matt Hogue said the committee took strength of schedule as a key aspect in selecting the Gators, one of the 33-at-large teams.

“We did spend a great deal of time considering Florida and their overall resume, and again, I think you bring up a great issue and a great question when you do have teams from different places, different conferences, it’s difficult,” Hogue said in an ESPN interview.

“One of the key aspects for Florida was that strength of schedule. I think, number one at overall strength of schedule. Number 13 at non-conference strength of schedule. That was something that mattered a lot through all of the conversations.”

A record 11 SEC teams (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt) made the 64-team, double-elimination tourney.

O’Brate Stadium in Stillwater, Okla., is home for the Oklahoma State Cowboys baseball team, which hosts a regional this weekend. [NATHAN J. FISH/THE OKLAHOMAN-USA TODAY NETWORK]
The winner of the Stillwater Regional plays the winner of the Clemson Regional, which features the host Tigers (41-14), the sixth national seed, Vanderbilt (38-21), Coastal Carolina (34-23) and High Point, N.C. (34-25), in the best-of-three Super Regional. The winner there advances to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb., beginning June 14.

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