Young team calls for fresh leadership

The harvest of the Major League draft paired with graduation and an unexpected exit has Florida's roster nearly erased of headliner names and inked with fresh ones. There are only two seniors playing for the Gators this season, calling for the younger returners to lead on the diamond.

Senior captain Vickash Ramjit, who is expected to either fill Preston Tucker's void in right field or continue his reign at first base, said he has one goal in mind to lead his team when the lights flash on February 15th.

"Our main goal is to win," Ramjit said. "As a captain, I emphasize that as much as possible."

The Miami, Fla., native admitted he's a vocal leader, but he strives to lead by example, as well. Ramjit also acknowledged that the leadership isn't limited to the senior class of himself and Cody Dent, but rather, it trickles all the way down to the sophomores.

Plenty of last year's newcomers made early impacts proving themselves valuable assets to the lineup, including infield starters Casey Turgeon, Josh Tobias and Taylor Gushue.

Second baseman Turgeon, who's currently adjusting to the loss of shortstop Nolan Fontana to the Astros, said he's working on taking players under his wing just as Fontana did to him last season.

"I'm trying to teach them everything I got," he said.

He also added that the bunch of vocal leaders emerging from the dugout this year is far from slim.

"We have Vickash and Karsten (Whitson) and Keenan (Kish) — I could go on forever," Turgeon said. "Everyone's out here talking."

Third baseman Tobias, who has been lifting more and leaning down to add speed, said he and his fellow sophomores are taking their new roles in stride.

"We have to step up this year and teach the younger guys the ropes," he said.

Of course, one of last year's major blows was the loss of No. 3 draft pick and catcher Mike Zunino to the Seattle Mariners. Zunino's bat had a major impact; however, it was his ability to call his own games when he was behind the plate that coach Kevin O'Sullivan commended as a "tremendous plus" that takes leadership skills. Zunino's departure has sophomore Taylor Gushue stepping up in a major role for the orange and blue in more ways than one.

"I expect Taylor to be able to be the same type of leader," O'Sullivan said. "It may take a little time here, but I certainly expect the same thing from Taylor than I did from Mike."

Opening night will break exactly three weeks from today, when Florida will tackle Duke. As the players take the field, some for the first time, new voices will certainly be leading them all along the way.

"We've had some great players come through here that have moved on," O'Sullivan said. "But now it's time for these players to make a name for themselves."

Turgeon will also be counted on to lead

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