While it may be a little too early to think about next season, Florida baseball already has a big feather in its cap.
Hot might be a gross understatement when it comes to how Florida baseball started the 2020 season.
The Gators rattled off 16 straight wins before suffering a 2-0 loss to in-state rival Florida State.
Then, the coronavirus pandemic shut down what looked to be a very promising season for Kevin O’Sullivan’s squad.
But, fear not Gator fans, Florida baseball has been rewarded.
Baseball America recently tabbed Florida baseball as the No. 1-ranked team in the county for the 2021 season.
Florida baseball: Picking up where they left off
The magazine said that Florida baseball should have no problem continuing what they started in the 2020 season next year.
“…Florida tops the ranking. The Gators were No. 1 at the end of the abbreviated 2020 season and while right-handers Tommy Mace and Jack Leftwich figure to be drafted, they still will have a wealth of returning talent, especially in the lineup, in 2021. Another standout recruiting class will arrive in Gainesville this fall, giving Florida a deep, talented roster worthy of a national championship favorite.”
It will be a great way to open Florida Ballpark for opening day of the 2021 season.
The other benefit for the Gators is the fact that the NCAA granted blanket waivers for all seniors to have an extra year of eligibility following the abrupt close of the season.
It’s been reported that infielder Kirby McMullen will return for a redshirt senior season — adding to the firepower from last year.
How Florida baseball ended things
Last season had the makings of a banner year for Florida baseball.
The Gators were batting .285 through the first 17 games of the season while opponents were only hitting .207.
Florida outscored their opponents 123-46 and Gator hitters popped out 21 home runs to start things off.
On the rubber, Gator pitchers had a combined earned run average of 2.41 compared to 6.81 for opponents.
They closed the season with a WHIP of 1.06 while throwing two shutouts and only giving up eight home runs.
All-in-all, O’Sullivan and the Gators showed a ton of promise on the field during the shortened 2020 season.
There’s no reason not to expect Florida baseball to repeat that same magic next year.