Gators, Golden Eagles Ready for Action

Two wins this weekend will send either Florida or Southern Miss to the College World Series in Omaha. The two teams will get to work on trying to earn the first of those wins Saturday at 3:00. Florida is expected to send either Anthony DeSclafani (6-3, 4.98) or Stephen Locke (5-2, 4.02) to the mound to oppose Southern Miss righty J.R. Ballinger (6-3, 3.92).

The Golden Eagles were just the No. 3 seed at the NCAA Regional in Atlanta but won two of three games from Georgia Tech to earn the trip to Gainesville. They come into Gainesville with a 38-24 overall record and just broke even (12-12) in Conference-USA action.

Three guys on the mound have done most of the heavy lifting for Southern Miss. Ballinger is joined by another righthander Todd McInnis (9-4, 3.21) to give them a solid one-two every weekend while closer Collin Cargill has put together a very solid season (4-3, 11 saves, 3.25).

Offensively they are a team that can put a lot of runs on the board. They've scored 10 or more runs 19 times, including twice at Georgia Tech. They also pummeled UCF in Orlando, winning three games by a combined score of 51-14. Four guys, all right handed hitters have keyed the attack. Outfielder Bo Davis (.367, 13, 52) has the best numbers along with Kameron Brunty (.347, 7, 52), first baseman Joey Archer (.310, 10, 58) and designated hitter Corey Stevens (.330, 8, 55). Southern Miss as a team is batting .310 with 65 homers and averages about seven and a half runs a game. Those numbers are very close to what the Gators have put on the board in the same number (62) of games.

Florida Coach Kevin O'Sullivan said the similarities don't end there.

"I'd say they remind me a lot ourselves. They're balanced up and down the lineup. They'll bunt for hits up and down the lineup. They hit and run a bunch. They have a guy at the end of the game (Cargill) kind of like we do. They have some quality starters. They're really similar to us, honestly."

O'Sullivan said his guys have done a good job of focusing on preparation and not getting too hyped up about the chance to reach the World Series.

"We've pretty much taken the same approach. Obviously there is more riding on this weekend, but we haven't approached it any different than we would any other weekend. I think playing in the SEC certainly helps you with that approach because every weekend the margin for error is so small. You approach each weekend the same whether you're playing a team that made the conference tournament or not because everybody is pretty good and it's the same thing here."

O'Sullivan also took a look at the Golden Eagles top two starters and overall pitching staff.

"They are really good. Ballinger has a good arm. His ball sinks. He has a lot of movement to it and he's very aggressive. McInnis, I think he was their conference pitcher of the year. He's a competitor, attacks the zone and throws four pitches for strikes. I think the biggest thing that I've seen out of their pitchers is that they are very aggressive. They're a lot like us in that they want to pound the strike zone early in the count. We certainly do have our hands full."

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This is just the second time Florida has hosted a Super Regional. They entertained Florida State in 2005 and beat the Seminoles in two straight games to advance to Omaha for the fifth time in school history. They haven't been back since.

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The Super Regional will be another chance for Florida freshman Preston Tucker to add to one of the finest rookie years in school history. Tucker goes into the weekend hitting .357 with a team-high 14 home runs. His 83 RBI is already a UF single season record.


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