Avery Barnes Eager for Omaha

Four years ago Avery Barnes was a recent high school graduate and Gator signee watching his favorite team play in the College World Series. Now in his final season wearing the Orange and Blue Barnes has his best chance to make a trip to Omaha to play for the NCAA Title.

Barnes has put together consecutive outstanding seasons for the Gators; this year hitting .359 with eight homers, 42 RBI and 17 stolen bases. The eight home runs is a big surprise since Barnes hit just five in his first three seasons. I spoke with the Gator senior as he was getting ready for Saturday's first game of the Super Regional.

LV: Playing in a Super Regional in your senior year, 10 miles from where you grew up. What does that mean to you?

AB: It's extremely special. This is something you dream of as a little kid, getting to play in a big time environment like this at home. Just being a few miles from where I grew up is really exciting for me and I'm really looking forward to the challenge.

LV: You come in on the heels of the Gators making the trip to Omaha. How special is it to have a chance to play a role in getting the Gators back?

AB: The year I was coming in there was a lot of hype about the Gator baseball team and that was something I was very proud of. Now that I'm getting a chance to leave on that same note it's very exciting and something I'm just as proud of and hopefully we'll keep the show rolling and have some fun this weekend.

LV: Talk about the balance on this team. It seems everyone 1-9 produces something and the bullpen depth has been tremendous.

AB: It starts off with our young guys coming in as freshmen and really contributing. You've got guys like Preston Tucker (14 HR, 83 RBI), Anthony DeSclafani (6 wins), Alex Panteliodis (6 wins) and Nick Maronde (3 wins, 4.17 ERA) who have come in and made an immediate impact. And you have the veterans that are coming through as well. It does build good team chemistry that the older guys and younger guys are getting it done.

LV: You hit five homers in three years and now eight homers as a senior, where does this power surge come from?

AB: I have no idea. I can't attribute it to one thing. This off season the coaches really worked with me a lot trying to improve my swing as much as possible. It's worked out well for us and hopefully it'll work out for us some more this weekend.

LV: Southern Miss just beat Georgia Tech in Atlanta even though they were just the No. 3 seed in that Regional. Does that result ensure you won't look past them?

AB: You can't overlook anyone. You've got the pinnacle of college baseball just two games away. It's been a dream of a lot of our guys and we only have two guys on our team (Brandon McArthur and Stephen Locke) who have even been to Omaha. We are going to do everything we can to get there. We know we have our hands full with them coming in here but we have the advantage being on our home field. Hopefully this place will be filled up and it'll be a good environment for us to play in.

*************************************************************

Coach O'Sullivan on Barnes:

"He's our spark. I think he leading our league in runs scored (74). He gets us going. He always seems to be in the middle of everything, whether it be (scoring) the winning run or driving in the first of the game to get on the board or stealing a big base. He always seems to be right in the middle of something good happening for us offensively."

O'Sullivan on Barnes' desire to get to the World Series:

"He's acting like a freshman right now to be honest with you. He's as excited as he can be. It's fun to see an older guy like Avery having so much fun with it because he hasn't been this far with a chance to go to Omaha."

************************************************************

Game one of Florida/Southern Miss is set for Saturday at 3:00. The two teams will play Sunday at 7:00 and is a third game is needed it will be Monday at either 1:00 or 7:00.


Fightin Gators Top Stories