Gators celebrate two-man senior class

This was supposed to be the Senior Night that honors the best class in Florida history. But as usual in college baseball, they're starting their trek through the minor leagues, one even in the major leagues, instead of going through their senior seasons in Gainesville. There are two that remain. Cody Dent and Vickash Ramjit have brought stability to a team desperately searching for it this year.

This weekend's celebration won't have the appeal of future big leaguers being honored. If that were the case, the Gators would've held Senior Night for the 2013 graduation class at the end of last season before experiencing the mass exodus for professional baseball.

The unfortunate truth about Friday night's ceremony is that it will likely be focused on what used to be instead of what is now. Cody Dent and Vickash Ramjit haven't been All-SEC players and they likely won't be future big leaguers like the players that left school after their junior year last season, but that shouldn't diminish from what they've accomplished.

Dent played in a College World Series game during each of his first three seasons, earning the starting third base job in the first two years. Ramjit was a critical piece that played in a College World Series game the last two seasons he was on campus.

They didn't bring the fear at the plate that came when Mike Zunino, Preston Tucker or Brian Johnson stepped into the batter's box, but they were complimentary pieces, playing strong defense on some of the best teams in the country in recent years.

"It has been an honor, privilege and a blessing to be here the last four years," senior shortstop Cody Dent said. "Winning two SEC championships, going to the College World Series three times -- you really couldn't ask for any more in a four-year career here. It's truly a blessing."

Dent has been a below average hitter, taking a career .182 batting average into this weekend's series against Auburn, but his glove has never been in question. For a young team searching for veterans to step up this season, Dent had given Florida that. Freshmen have complimented him for his leadership, while in the field, Dent has made just two errors in 165 chances, good for a .988 fielding percentage.

It hasn't always been pretty at the plate, but Dent knows his limitations. He doesn't try to be a power hitter -- despite his first career home run on Monday against Florida A&M -- and helps the offense in the bunt game. In a year the Gators needed stability, Dent has provided it. Especially on defense.

"It's something I pride myself in," Dent said. "Even throughout high school, I've always prided myself on defense. I've always worked hard at it. It's never something I took for granted."

He could've left after his freshman year. Dent came in the same class as Nolan Fontana. The Gators were searching for a shortstop after Mike Mooney left to start his professional career, and Fontana won the job with his offseason performance. Dent didn't want to go and was rewarded by earning time at other positions along the infield throughout his career.

This offseason, the Gators needed outfielders. With star freshman shortstop Richie Martin coming to campus, Dent moved to center field and picked up the position naturally. No complaining, no pouting. When Martin went down with a finger injury, Dent moved back to shortstop and has stayed there with Martin taking the center field job.

Ramjit's a different story.

He took a winding path to Gainesville that actually started in Coral Gables, donning orange and green for the Hurricanes. After his freshman season, Ramjit transferred to Miami Dade Community College but didn't play because of an injury. Florida head coach Kevin O'Sullivan offered him a spot on the roster, and he jumped on it.

The Gators have posted a 10-1 record against Miami during that time period.

"It was different," Ramjit said about transferring to Florida. "I didn't know what to expect, being away from family for the first time. I just felt like home here. It was really different from Miami -- a lot slower pace."

Friday night's celebration for the two could turn into memories of last year's junior class, but Dent and Ramjit also deserve credit for carving out their roles on this year's team and getting the Gators close to securing an NCAA Tournament berth.

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