Gator Baseball Opens Season Tonight
The Kevin O'Sullivan era officially begins this evening when the Gators kick off the season with a three-game series against Sienna.
During Wednesday night's basketball game, Seffner native and former Arwood standout Brandon McArthur addressed the O'Connell Center crowd asking for their support this season.
"We were picked to finish 5th in the SEC East,'' McArthur said. "Nobody believes in us. But that's because they haven't seen all the hard work we've been putting in since August.''
It's most likely because of the way the Gators' season went last year. Florida was 29-30, its first season with a losing record since 1990. It was also only the second season since 1976 (21-27) that the Gators finished with a sub .500 record.
If history is any indication, the Gators could bounce back nicely under O'Sullivan. The last two Florida teams which had losing records turned things around the following year. Jay Bergman’s 1977 team went 39-18 overall and captured its fi rst Eastern Division title since 1969 with a 14-9 SEC mark, and UF made its fi rst trip to NCAA Regionals since 1962. Joe Arnold engineered an even more noteworthy turnaround in 1991, when he directed the Gators to a school-record 51 victories, the program’s most recent SEC Tourney crown and a berth at the NCAA College World Series.
Including McArthur, the Gators have eight area players on the team. McArthur will take over first base from All-American Matt LaPorta. McArthur played just one game last seaon after tearning the UCL (ulnar collateral ligament) in his right elbow on opening night; he later underwent season-ending surgery.
Here are the other area players on the Gator roster:
Brett Bentley, Jr./C; Jesuit
Michael Branham, Jr./RHP, Jesuit
Billy Bullock, So./RHP, Riverview
Riley Cooper, R-Fr./OF, Clearwater Central Catholic
Chris Freshcorn, F./INF, Alonso
Stephen Locke, Jr./LHP, King
Tommy Toledo, Fr./RHP, Alonso