Friday, January 19, 2018
Sports

Florida Gators second baseball Casey Turgeon eventually has impressive freshman season

GAINESVILLE — Like any freshman, Casey Turgeon wanted to make an immediate impact on the Florida baseball team this season.

He has done so, starting 58 games.

But what has made his season more impressive is the Dunedin alumnus overcame a scooter accident that kept him out for almost all fall practice and dealt with hamstring and groin injuries to emerge as one of the Gators' top newcomers.

"He's probably one of our toughest competitors," coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. "What he's done is no surprise."

Turgeon was riding to the baseball stadium on Sept. 29 when his scooter collided with a car at an intersection. Turgeon, who was not wearing a helmet, was hospitalized with a concussion and other injuries. He missed all but two at-bats of fall practice.

Tonight Turgeon will be in the starting lineup at second base when Florida opens NCAA tournament play against Bethune-Cookman. He says it's a pleasant surprise.

"I thought I was going to be way behind," Turgeon said Thursday. "But (shortstop Nolan Fontana) took me under his wing. I got a lot of extra work, and where I am today, it's awesome.

"We started really small, just (fielding) ground balls and whatever the doctor would let me do. And then once I got fully cleared, I was out there hitting, and I was doing everything, running, anything to get back in shape."

And helping the Gators.

"No," Fontana said when asked if he envisioned Turgeon recovering well enough to play as well as he has. "And he's done an awesome job. He's come a long way since being hurt.

"And I don't think anybody thought he'd be back out here but him, and he knew it. He worked really hard to get here."

Fontana has participated in a classic example of paying it forward. Former Gator second baseman Josh Adams took a young Fontana under his wing and taught him the nuances of the college game. Something about Turgeon made Fontana want to do the same for him.

"I saw a lot of myself in Casey when he first got here, and that was a big part of making a connection with him," the junior said. "And also him playing up the middle with me was a big part of it as well.

"He's a great kid. He works hard. He's a hard-nosed guy, and I love that. He's a guy that loves playing the game of baseball each day. He just grinds it out. He knows that baseball is a game of failure, and that's a big part of how you become successful."

Turgeon enters the tournament with a career-high six-game hitting streak during which he is 8-for-21 (.381) with six RBIs, two doubles and a triple. At last week's SEC tournament, for which he was selected to the all-tournament team, Turgeon hit .429 (6-of-14) with four RBIs and two doubles.

For the season, Turgeon is hitting .271 with three homers, 24 RBIs and eight stolen bases.

The left-handed batter is playing precisely the way O'Sullivan envisioned.

"I think he's got a chance to go down as one of the best infielders to ever play here," O'Sullivan said. "He plays great defense. He runs the bases well. He can hit lefties. He uses the entire field. I think that's probably the biggest thing that's helped him. His freshman year, he started to use the left side of the field a lot better.

"He's just a good player. He stands out when you go to a high school game or a summer league game. He played on some really good teams, and he just stood out. He always seems to be in the middle of the action. I'm not surprised by what he's been able to accomplish this year."

Antonya English can be reached at [email protected] Read her blog at tampabay.com/blogs/gators.

Comments
Your way-too-early 2018 college football schedule viewing guide

Your way-too-early 2018 college football schedule viewing guide

Although we still don't know the full 2018 college football schedule, we do know the full slates for Florida, Florida State and Miami, after the ACC announced its games Wednesday.Let's look ahead:Best date: Oct. 6. LSU-Florida and FSU-Miami are on th...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Lightning falls to Golden Knights

Lightning falls to Golden Knights

TAMPA — The door to the Lightning dressing room remained closed a little longer than usual Thursday night, and that wasn’t surprising.After the kind of performance displayed in its 4-1 loss to the expansion Golden Knights, this had players-only meeti...
Updated: 27 minutes ago
Lightning journal: Cory Conacher ready to take advantage of J.T. Brown’s departure

Lightning journal: Cory Conacher ready to take advantage of J.T. Brown’s departure

TAMPA — The loss of wing J.T. Brown to Anaheim will be a gain for some Lightning forwards in terms of ice time. Whether those players are currently with the team or still at AHL Syracuse has yet to be determined.For now, C Cory Conacher will try to t...
Updated: 6 hours ago

Friday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYAutosNASCAR Hall of Fame induction ceremony8 p.m.NBCSNCollege basketballBuffalo at Western Michigan7 p.m.ESPNUSt. Bonaventure at Davidson7 p.m.ESPN2Canisius at Manhattan9 p.m.ESPNUIllinois at Wisconsin9 p.m.FS1College gymnasticsFlorida at Kentuc...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Strong ties: USF vs. Louisville

Strong ties: USF vs. Louisville

TAMPA — USF has scheduled a three-game football series with Louisville — coach Charlie Strong’s former team — starting in 2022, giving his Bulls nine games against Power Five teams over the next seven years.USF visits Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium on ...
Updated: 6 hours ago

High school scoreboard for Jan. 18

Thursday’s scoreboardGirls basketballNortheast 64, Largo 24Boys soccerIndian Rocks Chr. 3, Berkeley Prep 2Palm Harbor U. 7, Tarpon Springs 0Girls soccerCountryside 5, Pinellas Park 0Palm Harbor U. 5, Tarpon Springs 1...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Djokovic wins in rising heat

Djokovic wins in rising heat

MELBOURNE, Australia — On a day when shade was a valuable commodity in the searing heat at Melbourne Park, Roger Federer played it cool at the Australian Open. Six-time champion Novak Djokovic, however, complained about the brutal conditions during h...
Updated: 7 hours ago

Sports in brief

GymnasticsUSA gymnastics Ends deal with KAROLYI ranch tainted by SEX abuse allegationsINDIANAPOLIS — The long relationship between USA Gymnastics and the Karolyi Ranch is over. The organization announced Thursday that it has terminated its agreement ...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Star battle: Team LeBron versus Team Stephen

Star battle: Team LeBron versus Team Stephen

Team LeBron against Team Stephen is the NBA’s new All-Star matchup. Cleveland’s LeBron James and Golden State’s Stephen Curry will go head-to-head again, this time as captains who pick teams for the revamped All-Star Game. James and Curry received th...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Bruins continue climb up Atlantic Division

Bruins continue climb up Atlantic Division

NEW YORK — Patrice Bergeron scored three goals to lead Boston to a 5-2 victory over the Islanders on Thursday night, giving the Bruins at least a point for the 15th consecutive game. Brad Marchand had a goal and two assists as Boston improved to 11-0...
Updated: 7 hours ago