Kevin O’Sullivan really likes his 2023 Gator baseball team.
Do you know who else likes their teams?
“Every coach in America,” O’Sullivan said. “We’re all undefeated right now.”
On paper, the Gators look loaded this year. Of course, “on paper” has a career record of unfilled potential and broken dreams.
Still, the preseason polls have O’Sullivan’s 16th Florida team ranked anywhere from second in the country to seventh. And pre-season polls are never wrong, he said sarcastically.
Sully is coming off a regional finals loss to Oklahoma and could see a team that was going to go into 2023 with momentum.
“In 2021, the season ended on a bad note,” he said, referring to a two-and-barbecue as a regional host. “But I was proud of the way your young team turned it around last year.”
Now, there is the question of Omaha. Florida has not been since 2018 (“It feels like a decade,” O’Sullivan said).
How do they get back? In this Dooley’s Dozen, we give you the 12 things that need to happen for Florida to make its eighth appearance in the College World Series under O’Sullivan.
Anybody who was watching the 2017 team win the whole thing knows that one of the biggest keys was that closer Michael Byrne was as close to automatic as you can get. There are a lot of options to find a real closer Sully can count on, including the candidates for third starter.
“We’re going to work on it situationally during practices and see if we can find a guy we can count on,” O’Sullivan said.
Hurston Waldrep must be pretty good. I know a lot of you can’t wait to see him pitch. Neither can the Florida coaches, but so far so good. Getting Brandon Sproat to come back for another year is huge. Those are starters 1A and 1B.
The SEC is all about trying to win series after series. That’s how you win a conference title and get to host regionals and supers. The first two starters put you in position.
Josh Rivera was the star of the fall practices, not only with his glove but with his bat. There were times when he was an auto-out at the plate last year and had some lazy errors. But the word is he is ready to be a rock in 2023.
“He was probably our most improved offensive player (in the spring),” O’Sullivan said. “I talk to our assistant coaches all the time and we’ve agreed that next…