"Everybody is going to play in probably the greatest games of their lives this weekend. The crowd is going to be real wild" - First baseman Matt LaPorta
The Gators and Seminoles played in the opening round of the 1996 College World Series. Florida took the game 5-2. After dropping a 9-4 contest to Southeastern Conference rival LSU, The Sunshine State teams met again in the losers' bracket. The Gators eliminated the ‘Noles 6-3, preventing them from capturing the elusive CWS title.
As exciting as the trip to Omaha was in '96, there will be just as much interest in the weekend series in Gainesville. A national television audience. A sold out stadium filled with fans supporting these teams, largely Orange and Blue, with a half dozen local Miami fans who opt out of the early trip to the Cornhusker State.
The Gators and ‘Noles don't have much of post season history against one another. Consider that Florida has battled the University of Miami seven times in the past three post seasons. The Gators and ‘Noles have only met six times in post season play since 1979. This match-up has everybody excited. The Mac will be rockin' Friday night.
"It's the perfect story. This is college baseball at its' best"- Center fielder Jeff Corsaletti
"It's the perfect story," senior Jeff Corsaletti said. "It's the perfect ending, being our last series home. You don't want anything else. It doesn't get any better than this coming into this weekend. Just the fact that they are a rival, it makes it more intense, more fun to be a part of. This is college baseball at its' best. We get the team that we've already played and everybody is going to be fired up. Both games are at seven o'clock at night. For us to be successful this weekend, our crowd is going to have to be a big part and be that 10th man out there".
Florida enters the series as the regular season Southeastern Conference Champions. This squad spent last weekend slapping the Fighting Irish Leprechaun around like Burt Reynolds on a CBS reporter.
Florida State has defeated Florida twice this season and owns the regular season series title. Seminole fans don't see a problem with the Indians adding a Super Regional title and trip to Nebraska to the schedule.
"It's a big rivalry. We had a tough series against them. They took two out of three against us." - second baseman Adam Davis
Fans in both camps have spent the better part of the year debating which conference reigns supreme. This is the weekend to prove it. Sure, Corsaletti and company are excited and would love nothing better than to secure bragging rights. But, the players will have to settle in and play their games without getting too jacked up. It won't be easy though. The Mac will at least somewhat resemble a football like atmosphere for the next two nights.
"It's a big rivalry," second baseman Adam Davis said. "We had a tough series against them. They took two out of three against us. We have to stay with our same approach. We can't get carried away too much. I'm sure there will be a lot of fans out there and I'm sure it'll be three great games."
Florida has never hosted a Super Regional. The significance of the match-up wasn't at all lost on the boys at ESPN. This is a fantastic opportunity for Florida to showcase the program, facilities, and perhaps just as important, crowd. What is the over/under on ESPN announcers declaring The Mac…"Baseball Swamp", "Swamp West", or some other catchy phrase. Noise will be at a premium. The ‘Noles travel very well, and you can bank on the songbirds being in attendence.
Florida fans will drown out the songbirds and then attempt to one up them. Add to the fact that Urban Meyer, his family, and several members of the coaching staff will most likely be in attendance as they were last weekend. It is a perfect way to spend early June weekend.
I think that it's going to be great," slugger Matt LaPorta said. "Everybody is going to play in probably the greatest games of their lives this weekend. It's going to be fun, getting to have all of the fans here. The crowd is going to be real wild."