Freshmen Show Promise in SEC Series Loss

Florida's roster is speckled with offensive heavyweights. Senior Preston Tucker shattered the school's RBI record earlier this year (he currently boats 35 this season) and junior catcher and MLB prospect Mike Zunino is the reigning SEC Player of the Year. But in an offensive lull, where the Gators only posted five runs in a three-game series against Arkansas, the freshmen stepped up and produced.

In Friday's 3-2 win, freshman second baseman Casey Turgeon pulled a two-run double to left center to tie the game in the sixth inning. Turgeon stole third base, putting the winning run for Florida on the corner, paving the way for him to score on Austin Maddox's RBI single.

"We were down by two," Turgeon said Friday. "I figured a big hit right there would've helped."

Though the Gators dropped the series in back-to-back losses against the Razorbacks, the freshmen, again, produced offensively on Sunday.

Razorbacks right-hander DJ Baxendale held the orange and blue scoreless until the eighth, when freshmen Justin Shafer and Josh Tobias got on base with a one-out deficit.

Though Maddox lead off with a fly out to center, Shafer singled into left center and Tobias follow suit with his single into right field. A throwing error from Arkansas right fielder Brian Anderson advanced Shafer to third to put runners on the corners for Florida. Tucker's groundout, RBI scored Shafer to tie the game and register UF's sole run of the contest.

"The freshmen are no longer freshmen," coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. "I told them that a while ago. They've played enough where they've kind of graduated to the next step. That's why we recruited them — we thought they would be good players for us early in their careers."

Tobias started at third base in the Arkansas series for the first time since his wrist injury in the South Carolina series on March 23. He left off with a .250 batting average and his impeccable speed elevated him to three stolen bases of his three attempts.

"It's a shame that Josh got hurt because he was just trying to figure some things out," O'Sullivan said. "It was good to get him back out there this weekend."

Tobias, Shafer and Turgeon make up one-third of the starting lineup for Florida at this point in the season. UF has three SEC series and two midweek games to shave off before it enters post-season play, beginning with the SEC Tournament in Hoover, Ala. on May 22.

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