Gators arrive in Omaha hoping to enjoy every moment
Florida baseball coach Kevin O'Sullivan has been to the College World Series three times as an assistant coach, but this afternoon he'll arrive in Omaha for the first time as a head coach.
O'Sullivan said while he's trying his best to keep his young team grounded, he hasn't lost sight of the significance of making it to the College World Series.
"It’s special,'' he said. "Anytime you go to the World Series, whether you’re an assistant or a head coach, it’s special, and it’s times that you’ll never forget and memories you’ll never forget. But to be a head coach and to be going there for the first time it’s obviously extra special. I’m awfully happy for the players because I’m not quite sure anybody on this team has ever been to Omaha as a player.''
The Gators seemed loose, yet confident, during their final practice session Wednesday before leaving for Omaha, even spending a little pre-practice time shooting water guns at each other. O'Sullivan said he's trying to keep things as "normal" as possible as they prepare to play UCLA Saturday at 7 p.m.
"I know what they’re going to go through,'' he said. "It’s a chance of a lifetime. With that being said, I like the way our practices have gone this week. I know we’re focused. We want to take that one last step and I know it would mean a lot to these players to be able to bring home that first national championship to Florida.''
For the players, the chance to be the last champion at Rosenblatt Stadium holds an extra special appeal.
"Definitely, it's definitely very special,'' Tampa sophomore pitcher Alex Panteliodis said. "I’ve always wanted to be there, I’ve grown up watching it. And now I’m getting a chance to play there and it’s the last season there so I’d love to come out on top.''