Despite CWS Exit, UF's Future Looks Bright

OMAHA, Neb. - While Florida's stay at the College World Series proved a short one, there's reason to believe it could be a building block for future Gator baseball success. Several recent national champs followed up brief visits to Omaha with the title a year later. With the Gators such a young team, this trip has to be considered a valuable learning experience.

One team Florida might look to emulate is Oregon State. The Beavers went to the CWS in 2005 and failed to win a game, following up with championships the next two seasons. SEC opponent LSU went 1-2 in the 2008 CWS, but then returned to win it all last season. The challenge for Florida is to make sure they too continue to make progress after their first visit to Omaha with this group and coaching staff.

"Coaches and players alike, you get a taste and you want to come back again," said Gators coach Kevin O'Sullivan after Monday's season ending loss to FSU.

"Anytime you come to Omaha, whether it be as a player or an assistant or a head coach, you learn something from this experience."

"We had a great experience here," said Florida's Preston Tucker. "It was new for everyone on the team, so I think if we get back here next year everyone's going to have a little more experience and be a little more confident."

The vast majority of Florida's key players will return, with the exception of seniors Matt den Dekker and Jonathan Pigott. O'Sullivan feels everyone who is part of the team going forward can take some lessons from this year's College World Series, himself included.

"There's things that we all need to prepare ourselves for better if we get this opportunity again next year. I think we're all foolish if we don't pull something away from this and try to improve and make ourselves better for next year."

O'Sullivan is optimistic about next year's squad based on the returning talent as well as what he's seen from their attitudes.

"It's been well documented that we've got a young team. They're competitive, and I know this isn't going to sit well with them."

This is the final year of the College World Series being played at Rosenblatt Stadium, something O'Sullivan was asked to comment on. While acknowledging the special quality of Florida being a part of the final CWS at the historic venue, O'Sullivan was already looking ahead to a bright future.

"Being a part of the last year at Rosenblatt, that's something that can never be taken away from these players and coaches, but I can tell you we're looking forward to hopefully breaking in the new one next year."


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