There are a lot of unhappy Gators after South Carolina defeated Florida in just two games for the national championship. Florida seemingly lost track of what got them there. For the first time in the 2011 CWS, the winds were blowing out during game one of the championship series. The Gators wanted to power a couple of balls out and put South Carolina in catch-up mode. They didn’t do some of the things (playing small ball, defense, moving runners to the plate) as well.
It was an incredible year for Eastern Division powers South Carolina, Florida, and Vanderbilt. All three finished among the top four in at the CWS and I don’t believe that it will be the last time these teams book their travel itineraries for Omaha. Why?
Ray Tanner (South Carolina), Tim Corbin (Vanderbilt), and Kevin O’Sullivan (Florida) do a superb job of assessing talent, recruiting, and preparation. O’Sullivan has been tremendous for the Florida program. In each of his four years in the Florida program, the Gators have improved.
As you can see, Florida has improved by winning five or more games per season. The Gators also played one of the toughest schedules in the nation. They have also improved their winning percentage in conference play. That will be tough to achieve in 2012. You just don’t win 23 games in conference play.
Florida was built for power and despite the NCAA changes in the bats, made it to the College World Series national championship series. A terrific nucleus returns for the Gators next season. O’Sullivan also has some terrific freshmen on their way to Gainesville, provided major league baseball doesn’t steal too many away.
* Michael Kelly, RHP, West Boca Raton Community High, 48th overall, San Diego Padres, 6-foot-4, 185 pounds
* Hudson Boyd, RHP, Bishop Verot High, 55th overall, Minnesota Twins, 6-foot-2, 235 pounds
* Daniel Vogelbach, 1B, Bishop Verot High, 68th overall, Chicago Cubs, 6-foot, 250 pounds
* Kyle Smith, RHP, Santaluces High, 126th overall, Kansas City Royals, 6-foot, 167 pounds
* Casey Turgeon, SS, Dunedin High, 672nd overall, New York Mets, 5-foot-10, 155 pounds
Florida fans have to be ecstatic about the state of Florida baseball program. It’s never been better. This is the quality year-after-year contender Gator fans have waited for the past several decades.