Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

UF's Other Opponent: High Expectations; Gators Played through Pressure to Return to College World Series

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

UF's Other Opponent: High Expectations; Gators Played through Pressure to Return to College World Series

Article excerpt

Byline: Hays Carlyon

GAINESVILLE | For Florida's baseball team, the elephant has left the room.

The elephant, as UF coach Kevin O'Sullivan described following the team's Super Regional title, was the enormous expectations his squad faced entering the season.

UF was a consensus choice to open the season as the nation's top team after returning most of its roster from a 53-win campaign. The Gators advanced to the national championship series before losing to South Carolina, the same team they'll open this College World Series against at 9 p.m. Saturday in Omaha, Neb.

The hype hovering over Florida showed at times this season. Despite having nine players who would be selected in June's MLB draft - including five in the first three rounds - UF failed to win the Southeastern Conference regular season or tournament championship.

However, a 5-0 performance to start the NCAA Tournament and a third consecutive trip to Omaha enabled top-seeded UF (47-18) to leave the expectations behind in Gainesville.

After all, how can a program that's never won a national title have a championship-or-bust mentality?

"Getting back to Omaha was the big elephant in the room that no one wanted to talk about," O'Sullivan said. "It's hard to get to Omaha, but to add the fact that you're supposed to get there makes it more difficult. It has not been an easy road."

Early on, it appeared the road might be easy for the Gators. UF started 20-1. That included an 18-game winning streak that stretched from Feb. 21 to March 22. In that span, Florida swept Vanderbilt and Miami in a three-game series and notched wins over Florida State and Central Florida.

Then came the lull. UF hit three separate skids. The Gators lost five of seven and four of seven in different parts of the season. Florida then entered the NCAA tourney losing three of five.

The pressure to be champions started to catch up to the team. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.