Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

UNF Has Final Chance for Title; with Move to Next Level near, Ospreys Players Are Ready for Division II World Series

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

UNF Has Final Chance for Title; with Move to Next Level near, Ospreys Players Are Ready for Division II World Series

Article excerpt

Byline: ALEX ABRAMS

Everything seemed like a blur for Mike Fryrear, from the size of the crowds to the size of the opposing players.

Fryrear was a freshman in 2001 when the University of North Florida baseball team made its last trip to the NCAA Division II College World Series in Montgomery, Ala.

"It was awesome. It was actually a blur because I was so overwhelmed. I'd never been through that big of a crowd," said Fryrear, now a senior second baseman for the Ospreys. "Everyone was bigger than me."

Fryrear, who stands only 5 foot 8 and weighs 175 pounds, stopped and corrected himself. "Still are bigger than me," he said.

Fryrear is one of only two players that remain from that 2001 team that opened the Division II World Series with back-to-back wins and finished third in the nation. Pitcher Kyle Aylor is the other returner.

Together, they have spent the last few days trying to explain to their teammates what they should expect when they get to Montgomery for another chance to win the school's first baseball national title.

"It's definitely the pinnacle of anyone's career here," Aylor said. "I got to see it as soon as I got here and for four years just fell a game shy. Now to get that feeling again, that's the best experience in baseball."

This will be UNF's third and final trip to the eight-team, double-elimination tournament, considering it will next year make the long-awaited move to Division I. And the Osprey players can only hope that their opening-round opponent -- Southern Connecticut State (31-12) -- is overcome with a case of first-time jitters.

The Owls, who lead Division II with a 1.95 team ERA, will make their first World Series appearance at 7:30 p.m. EDT Sunday when they face the Ospreys (45-15).

"This is their first time going there. That's good and bad," said UNF coach Dusty Rhodes, who made his first trip to the Division II College World Series in 2000.

"It's good [for them] because they're there and they'll really have a lot of enthusiasm to play. It's bad because they don't have the experience that we have of being there."

Making things even more interesting is the fact that SCS plays in the Northeast-10 Conference, which uses wooden bats instead of the traditional aluminum. …

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