Difficult Regional awaits Florida

The celebration began in the Florida locker room when the No. 2 overall seed popped up next to the Gator head logo. It ended shortly after the rest of the Gainesville Regional was announced. The No. 2 overall seed brought no favors, and all three teams in Gainesville will challenge Florida this weekend.

The No. 2 seed Long Beach State and No. 3 seed North Carolina will provide a challenge for Florida, but the most confusing part of the Florida Regional is having College of Charleston as the No. 4 seed. The Gators open play this weekend against College of Charleston at 7 p.m. on Friday.

The Cougars have the résumé of a three-seed and the No. 52 RPI, which is 21 spots higher than the second highest RPI of any other four-seed in the NCAA Tournament.

It also means that Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan will go with freshman ace Logan Shore on Friday in the first game. Most No. 1 seeds are able to start their second or third starting pitcher in the opening game against a No. 4 seed, but the Gators won't have that luxury with the talent of College of Charleston.

"It takes a lot of the guesswork out on who you throw opening night," O'Sullivan said. "I don't know how else you can look at it. We're playing a team with over 40 wins. Initial look at it, I don't know how else we could go about this thing."

O'Sullivan didn't spend time griping over his team's rough draw on Monday. After the team watched the selection show at noon, the Florida coach wanted his team to understand the opportunity in front of them. The Gators have played their best games against tough competition and played their worst games against teams that struggled this year, like Jacksonville and Florida A&M.

"I told our team, to be honest, this is probably a Regional we need," O'Sullivan said. "We tend to play up to our competition or down to our competition. I'm excited about it. If you get to Omaha, it's not going to be easy. It doesn't matter. There's no easy road. You've got to play really good teams."

The selection show brought up some of the frustrations for Florida this year. Despite winning the Southeastern Conference by two games and making it to the SEC Tournament final, commentators and national baseball media continue to say Florida lacks the ‘wow' factor or the eye-popping statistics to explain the success this season.

"We just know how to win. That's it," Florida catcher Taylor Gushue said. "I'll take our 40-win season in the hardest schedule in the nation to be your ‘wow' factor. Our team is definitely one of the best out there and we deserve the seed we got.

"Just sitting in there being told that there's nothing special about you, well, that's not the case. We're good, and we'll definitely show it."

Fightin Gators Top Stories