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The latest on college sports in Florida

Gators open baseball season tonight against USF



rsz_ufbaseball.jpgThe No. 1 Florida baseball team will kick off its season in a three-game series against in-state rival USF tonight at 7. The Gators and Bulls will play Saturday at 1 p.m. and conclude the series on Sunday at 1 p.m. 

Tonight's opener will be televised live on Sun Sports.

Florida returns 22 letterwinners off of last season’s team, including 11 pitchers and eight players who saw the majority of time at
their position. The Gators also have a solid nucleus that includes two-time, first-team All-SEC senior second baseman Josh Adams, 2010 second-team All-SEC recipient junior Preston Tucker of Tampa, and and five sophomores who were Freshman All-Americans last season.

"It's always good to have experience,'' Tucker said. "I think we have so much depth to where we can put in guys that have been there. Guys with experience are sure going to help us when we need a guy to step up in a clutch situation.''

Florida also boasts a top-notch group of newcomers. The Gators’ incoming class was ranked as the fifth in the nation by Collegiate Baseball and sixth by Baseball America.

"We've told the freshmen that the game is going to pick up and it's going to be a little faster,'' sophomore SS Nolan Fontana said. "Slowing it down by yourself and telling yourself to slow down is going to be a big part of the game and being successful.''

Sophomore left-hander Brian Johnson will oppose USF senior right-hander Randy Fontanez (5-7, 3.59 in 2010) to kick off the weekend. Johnson was a third-team preseason All-American selection by Baseball America, and was a member of the 2010 USA Baseball Collegiate National Team that brought home a silver medal from the V FISU World University Championships in Tokyo, Japan, last summer.  In 16 appearances with 14 starts, he was 6-4 with a 4.03 ERA and recorded 51 strikeouts in 73.2 innings. He also served as the Gators' designated hitter in 27 games, batting .405.

All three games will be carried on GatorVision Online at

[Photo: Courtesy of University of Florida]

[Last modified: Friday, February 18, 2011 1:05pm]


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