Already in his sixth season at the University of Florida, Kevin O’Sullivan and his staff have transformed the Gators into one of the elite programs in college baseball. During a tenure which has been marked by tireless recruiting and fundamental coaching, he has overseen a progression up the national ladder by the Orange and Blue that has been punctuated by three-consecutive trips to the NCAA College World Series, highlighted by a runner-up performance in 2011, back-to-back Southeastern Conference titles in 2010 and 2011, as well as five NCAA Tournaments in a row and three-straight SEC Eastern Division crowns from 2009-11.
People often pointed to the stretch of 1996-98 as the best run in Gator history since those teams were a combined 136-60 (.694) with CWS appearances in 1996 and 1998, a pair of SEC titles (’96 and ’98) and three SEC East trophies. However, O’Sullivan’s last three teams are 147-56 (.724) with three-straight CWS appearances for the first time in school history, three-straight NCAA Regional and Super Regional crowns, consecutive SEC Championships and a pair of SEC Eastern Division titles in ’10 and ’11 and the league’s tournament championship in 2011.
The Gators entered last season as the consensus No. 1 team and occupied the top spot for a total of 42 times in the four major polls (12 in NCBWA, 11 in Baseball America, 11 in USA Today/ESPN, eight in Collegiate Baseball). Florida was awarded the top national seed in the NCAA Tournament, its fourth-straight year within the Top-8 seeds, and became one of two programs to advance to the CWS in the last three campaigns. O’Sullivan’s club swept the NCAA Gainesville Regional with victories over Bethune-Cookman (4-0) and Georgia Tech (6-2, 15-3) and then defeated NC State twice (7-1, 9-8) in the Gainesville Super Regional to advance to the College World Series for the eighth time in school history (1988, 1991, 1996, 1998, 2005, 2010, 2011, 2012).
With a 47-20 (.701) record, Florida reached the 40-win plateau for the 21st time in school history, the fourth-straight year under O’Sullivan, and the team has won 100 games in the past two seasons (53-19 in 2011 and 47-20 in 2012). Last spring marked the 11th time that McKethan Stadium has hosted NCAA Regional action and the fourth-straight year for the first time in school history. The Gators have now gone on to the College World Series from Gainesville on seven occasions: 1991, 1996, 1998, 2005, 2010, 2011 and 2012. Florida is 40-10 (.800) on its own turf during NCAA play and claimed all five outings on its own turf last season. O’Sullivan is 18-3 (.857) in NCAA play at home, 12-0 (1.000) in Regionals and 6-3 (.667) in Super Regionals. He also passed Joe Arnold (1988, 1991) and Andy Lopez (1996, 1998) as the Gator head coaches with the most trips to Omaha.
Facing the nation’s most difficult schedule according to Warren Nolan and rated No. 2 in the NCAA’s final Ratings Percentage Index (RPI), the Gators established a school record with an 18-game winning streak from February 21-March 22 and raced out of the gates with a 23-2 record. Florida led the nation in home runs (75) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.65), was second in fewest walks allowed per 9 innings (2.07) and was fourth in WHIP (1.15) during the 2012 campaign. In addition, the pitching staff’s earned run average of 2.92 was the lowest for the Orange and Blue since 1983 and ranked eighth in the country.
Trailing 5-3 in the ninth inning and down to its final two outs on March 4, UF erupted for five runs to hand No. 8 Miami an 8-5 setback to sweep the weekend series in Coral Gables and increase its winning streak over the Hurricanes to 11 games. On April 10, Florida rallied from a 3-0 deficit with six unanswered runs to defeat top-ranked Florida State in Tallahassee, 6-3, to complete a three-game sweep of the regular-season series between the Sunshine State rivals for the first time since 1958. The Gators had previously emerged victorious against the Seminoles in Gainesville on March 13 (9-2) and in Jacksonville on March 27 (4-1). The Gators posted an unblemished 10-0 record against schools from the Atlantic Coast Conference: 3-0 over Florida State and Miami (Fla.) and 2-0 over Georgia Tech and NC State.
Catcher Mike Zunino was Florida’s first-ever winner of the 2012 USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award, the 26th recipient of the Dick Howser Trophy as College Baseball's Player of the Year and collected the school’s inaugural Johnny Bench Award. Baseball America’s College Player of the Year became the first UF player to win the Howser Trophy in a group represented by 20 different schools and 13 conferences since its inception in 1987.
The highest Major League Baseball Draft pick in school history after being chosen third overall by the Seattle Mariners, Zunino finished as the Gators’ “Triple Crown” winner, leading the team in batting average (.322), RBI (67) and homers (19), and paced the squad in total bases (164), doubles (28), sacrifice flies (11) and slugging percentage (.669). According to the final NCAA statistics, he was first nationally in sacrifice flies, third in doubles, fourth in round-trippers, fifth in total bases, ninth in doubles per game, 10th in RBI and 11th in slugging percentage.
Left-hander/designated hitter Brian Johnson, taken in the first round by the Boston Red Sox at No. 31 overall, became Florida’s first winner of the John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Award. A first-team All-American by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) and Perfect Game, Johnson was a second-team All-American by Baseball America and Louisville Slugger. Chosen first-team All-SEC for the past two seasons, the southpaw tossed his first career complete game to oust fourth-ranked South Carolina from the SEC Tourney and matched his career high with four hits in the semifinal round the following day against Vanderbilt. He was named to the 2012 SEC All-Tournament Team at both pitcher and designated hitter.
Outfielder Preston Tucker earned All-America acclaim from the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) for the second-straight year, All-SEC honors for the third year in a row and made the NCAA Gainesville Regional All-Tournament team for the fourth time. He departed Gainesville as the school’s all-time leader in games played (265), games started (259), total bases (596), at bats (1,035), hits (341), RBI (258) and doubles (70).
Tucker was a first-team All-SEC selection in 2012 after being a first-team choice during his junior season and a second-team pick in 2010. He powered UF’s offense with a .393 (11-for-28) performance in NCAA play and became the first Gator to achieve Regional All-Tournament status all four years of his career. He is the lone UF player to earn Most Outstanding Player recognition twice (2009 & 2011). In 30 career NCAA Tourney games, Tucker batted .368 (46-for-125) and holds school records in career at bats (125), hits (46), RBI (31), runs (29), homers (11) and doubles (10). He was one of 10 NCAA baseball student-athletes named as a finalist for the 2012 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award.
Austin Maddox was named a third-team All-American by the NCBWA after previously being voted onto to the organization’s third team as a freshman in 2010. The Gators’ closer collected 12 saves, one shy of matching the school’s single-season record. Tabbed an All-American by Perfect Game for the first time in his career, left-hander Steven Rodriguez was a first-team All-SEC pick to become the first Gator reliever to earn All-SEC accolades since Kevin Chapman was recognized in 2010. The left-hander paced UF’s pitching corps with 81 strikeouts in 62 innings and was called up to the Los Angeles Dodgers in September after being a second-round pick in June.
Second baseman Casey Turgeonwas named a Freshman All-American by Perfect Game (first team) and Baseball America (second team). He started 65 of Florida’s 67 games, was voted as the Gainesville Regional’s Most Outstanding Player after batting .600 (6-for-10) over UF’s three victories and was chosen to the 2012 SEC All-Tournament Team after helping the Gators reach the semifinal round. Turgeon was the ninth Freshman All-American in O’Sullivan’s tenure, joining Josh Adams (2008), Tucker (2009), Nolan Fontana (2010), Johnson (2010), Maddox (2010), Hudson Randall (2010), Zunino (2010) and Karsten Whitson (2011).
Maddox, Randall, Tucker and Zunino were named All-South Region by the ABCA/Rawlings. The four selections matched the highest total in school history (1978, 1979, 1991, 1996, 2005, 2011). Tucker and Zunino were voted onto the first team for the second-straight year and joined a select group of Gators who earned first-team recognition multiple times: Jim Watkins (1978-79), Scott Ruskin (1984-85) and Matt LaPorta (2005 & 2007). Randall was a second-team pick for the second year in a row and Maddox was on the second team as well.
Florida boasted four first-team All-SEC selections for the first time since 1991. O’Sullivan’s club had a total of five All-SEC picks, the third-straight year that it had placed five or more recipients on the list. Fontana and Tucker joined an elite group of Gators on the diamond who has achieved All-SEC status three times, a fraternity that includes Adams (2008-09-11), Mike Stanley (1982-84-85), Marc Valdes (1991-92-93) and Brad Wilkerson (1996-97-98). Johnson, Rodriguez, Tucker and Zunino were chosen first-team All-SEC, Fontana earned second-team recognition, while third baseman Josh Tobias was chosen to the league’s All-Freshman Team. Fontana was named to the SEC All-Defensive Team for the third year in a row, matching Matt den Dekker (2008-10) for the most appearances on the list by a Gator, and Zunino was a repeat honoree.
Right-hander Jonathon Crawford became the first Gator hurler to register a complete-game no-hitter since John Burkeaccomplished the feat in a 2-0 shutout of Furman on May 23, 1991, by overpowering Bethune-Cookman on June 1 in the NCAA Gainesville Regional opener. A member of the 2012 USA College National Team, Crawford turned in a 3-0 record over the summer with a 2.10 ERA, highlighted by a pair of victories over powerhouse Cuba in Havana. He earned a bronze medal at the Haarlem Honkbal Week in the Netherlands, starting the semifinal contest against Cuba and carrying a shutout into the eighth inning.
Continuing the program’s pipeline into the professional ranks, the Gators had another nine players selected during the Major League Baseball Draft, including five within the first three rounds, giving O’Sullivan 39 draftees during his tenure after three in 2008, 10 in 2009, six in 2010 and a school-record 11 in 2011. After Zunino and Johnson heard their names called on opening night, Fontana (Houston Astros) and Rodriguez (Los Angeles Dodgers) each went in the second round and were followed by Maddox (3rd round, Boston Red Sox), Tucker (7th round, Houston Astros), Randall (7th round, Detroit Tigers), Daniel Pigott (9th round, Cincinnati Reds) and Greg Larson (20th round, Boston Red Sox). An additional eight signees were picked, two of whom started classes at Florida this summer.
Ten Gators were named to the 2012 Spring SEC Academic Honor Roll, giving Florida 50 Academic All-SEC recipients in O’Sullivan’s time at the helm. Larson made his third appearance on the league's Honor Roll, Cody Dent, Johnson, Maddox and Pigott were each honored for the second time, while Crawford, Fontana, Keenan Kish, Jeff Moyer and Tucker were first-time recipients. Five additional Gators were named to the 2011-12 SEC First-Year Academic Honor Roll: Bobby Poyner, Cory Reid, Justin Shafer, Corey Stump and Tobias, bringing O’Sullivan’s total of freshman honorees to 24.
Florida continued its dominance at McKethan Stadium in 2012, compiling a 31-8 (.795) mark, highlighted by sweeps of the NCAA Gainesville Regional and Super Regionals and a 7-2 series record that included weekend triumphs over Cal State Fullerton, Florida Gulf Coast, Georgia, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt and William & Mary. UF’s total attendance of 153,484 was just shy of 2011’s record total of 153,904, the average attendance of 3,935 per game established a new standard and the 6,108 fans on hand for the third game of the LSU series on April 7 was a single-game record. The Orange and Blue is a remarkable 155-34 (.820) at home over the past five years and registered a school-record 24-game winning streak from April 24, 2010-March 8, 2011.
O’Sullivan earned 2011 College Coach of the Year honors from Baseball America, becoming the first coach from UF to collect the publication’s yearly accolade. On its way to a school-record 53 victories, Florida earned a trip to Omaha in consecutive seasons for the first time. Although the Gators fell in the CWS Championship Finals to South Carolina, they notched a second-place showing for the second time in school history (2005).
O’Sullivan’s team secured the All-SEC final round by downing Texas (8-4) and then knocking off league rival Vanderbilt twice (3-1, 6-4). The second national seed in the NCAA Tournament, the Gators swept the NCAA Gainesville Regional with victories over Manhattan (17-3) and Miami (Fla.) (5-4, 11-4) and then defeated Mississippi State twice (11-1, 3-4, 8-6) in a classic Gainesville Super Regional to advance to the College World Series.
The 53 wins marked the third time that the program exceeded 50 wins (also in 1991 & 1996). UF stayed in the top five all season long in the USA Today/ESPN rankings, spent nine weeks at No. 1 in Baseball America and eight weeks in the top spot according to Collegiate Baseball.
The Gators blanked Vanderbilt, 5-0, to capture the 2011 SEC Tournament in Hoover, Ala. It was the first time in 20 years that Florida won the league’s tourney and was its sixth title (1981, 1982, 1984, 1988, 1991, 2011). The triumph also represented the first time since 1988 that the Orange and Blue had taken the SEC and SEC Tourney in the same season.
With a 22-8 performance in the SEC that matched South Carolina and Vanderbilt, Florida has obtained an SEC-best 21 division championships and its 12 league championships are third behind LSU (15) and Alabama (13). UF became the East winner for the third year in a row, matching its feat from 1996-98. Florida has also won SEC crowns in 1952, 1956, 1962, 1981, 1982, 1984, 1988, 1996, 1998, 2005 and 2010. The Gators claimed eight of their 10 SEC series and the team’s 22 victories in league play matched the school record set in 2010.
Florida’s strength of schedule was second in the country, trailing only fellow SEC Eastern Division member Georgia and the NCAA had the Gators second in the RPI behind North Carolina. The pitching staff twirled 11 shutouts in 72 games, exceeding the three donuts in 64 games during the 2010 season and breaking the previous school record for shutouts (10 in 1970).
Zunino was named the SEC Player of the Year, joining LaPorta (2005, ‘07) as Gators who have earned the league’s top accolade and Whitson was tabbed as the National Freshman Pitcher of the Year by Perfect Game. Tucker and Zunino were named All-Americans and were joined on the All-South Region squad by Adams and Randall, while Whitson was honored as a Freshman All-American by four different organizations.
Florida boasted six All-SEC selections, as Johnson, Tucker and Zunino made the first team and Adams, Fontana and Randall were second-team picks. Third baseman Zack Powers and Whitson represented UF on the league’s All-Freshman Team and Fontana and Zunino were All-Defensive Team picks. Pigott was the Most Valuable Player of the SEC Tournament, with Fontana, Randall and outfielder Bryson Smith earning All-Tourney recognition.
During the postseason, Tucker was voted as the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Gainesville Regional for the second time in three years and was joined on the All-Tourney squad by Fontana, left-hander Alex Panteliodis, Pigott, outfielder Tyler Thompson and Zunino. Dent and Smith were members of the 2011 NCAA College World Series All-Tourney Team. That summer, Fontana and Johnson were members of the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team for the second year in a row.
A school-record 11 players were chosen in the 2011 MLB Draft: left-hander Nick Maronde (3rd round, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim), right-hander Anthony DeSclafani (6th round, Toronto Blue Jays), Panteliodis (9th round, New York Mets), right-hander Tommy Toledo (11th round, Milwaukee Brewers), Adams (13th round, Florida Marlins), Tucker (16th round, Colorado Rockies), catcher Ben McMahan (23rd round, Milwaukee Brewers), right-hander Matt Campbell (24th round, Philadelphia Phillies), Larson (29th round, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim), Smith (34th round, Cincinnati Reds) and Thompson (46th round, Washington Nationals). An additional eight signees were picked, four of whom turned down the professional opportunity, and the trio of Larson, Thompson and Tucker elected to remain in school. Before his arrival, the Gators’ previous high number of picks was eight in both 1999 and 2002.
In the classroom, eight Gators were chosen to the SEC Academic Honor Roll, while one student-athlete (Kish) made the Freshman Academic Honor Roll. Justin Poovey made his third appearance on the league’s Honor Roll, Campbell and Larson were on the list for the second-straight year, while Dent, Johnson, Maddox, McMahan and Paul Wilson were first-time recipients.
The Gators compiled a 34-7 (.829) mark and a 9-1 series record at McKethan Stadium in ‘11, featuring weekend sweeps of Alabama, Boston College, Miami (Fla.), Ole Miss, Rhode Island, USF and Tennessee. UF’s total attendance of 153,904 became the high-water mark, the average attendance of 3,753 per game eclipsed the previous high of 3,514 in 2006 and the Gators drew a then-record 5,930 fans for Florida State’s visit.
Returning a talented nucleus and welcoming a recruiting class hailed as the nation’s best by both Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball, O’Sullivan directed the Gators to a 47-17 overall record in 2010 that featured a program-best 22-8 league mark and the school’s first SEC title in five years. Voted the SEC Coach of the Year, he molded a lineup that featured five All-SEC recipients and a record five Freshman All-Americans from Baseball America into a cohesive unit that made it to Omaha for the first time since ’05.
Facing a schedule ranked second in the country, the Gators captured nine of their 10 league series, including a run of eight-straight, and defeated South Carolina on the final weekend of the regular season to claim the SEC Championship. Seeded third in the NCAA Tournament, O’Sullivan’s club overpowered Bethune-Cookman (7-3), Oregon State (10-2) and Florida Atlantic (15-0) in the NCAA Gainesville Regional to join the 2004 and 2005 Gator teams as the only ones in school history at that time to collect Regional titles in consecutive seasons. The following weekend, UF claimed the first two Super Regional meetings with Miami (Fla.) to secure a CWS berth in the event’s final go-round at Rosenblatt Stadium.
Noted for his pitching acumen, O’Sullivan oversaw a Florida pitching staff that lowered its team earned run average for the third year in a row (4.13) and finished second in the nation in fewest walks allowed per nine innings (2.15). UF’s starting pitchers were 30-15 with a 3.94 ERA and its bullpen was 17-2 with a 4.35 ERA and tied the school record of 18 saves. Chapman was chosen as a third-team All-American by the NCBWA, becoming the first Gator pitcher to earn All-America status since Justin Hoyman in 2004. He also garnered second-team All-South Region accolades and was the lone UF representative to collect first-team All-SEC honors.
The quintet of Fontana, Johnson, Maddox, Randall and Zunino thrived in their debut seasons under O’Sullivan and all achieved both Freshman All-America and Freshman All-SEC status. The SEC’s Freshman of the Year, Maddox was named a third-team All-American by the NCBWA. The slugger from Jacksonville was the first rookie from Florida to earn All-America recognition since Brad Wilkerson accomplished the feat in 1996 and earned second-team All-SEC recognition.
Fontanabecame the first player in school history to be named to the Rawlings NCAA Division I Gold Glove Team and was the lone freshman selected to the nine-player positional squad. He and Johnson each brought home a silver medal from the V FISU World University Championships in Tokyo, Japan, while playing for the 2010 USA Baseball Collegiate National Team as the only freshmen on the roster. Randall led the SEC with a 2.63 ERA in conference games, paced the Gators with 17 starts and finished second on the club with 69 strikeouts.
UF had quite the haul in other SEC awards, as den Dekker, Fontana, Maddox and Tuckerearned second-team kudos. The four Florida players on the second team were the program’s highest tally since 2002.
Defensively, the Gators’ fielding percentage of .978 was a school record, ranked No. 1 in the SEC and finished sixth nationally. UF’s total of 54 errors was the fewest in the league and the club was 25-5 (.833) when not committing a miscue. den Dekker was named to the SEC All-Defensive Team for an unprecedented third year in a row and was joined by teammates Fontana and Tucker.
In the classroom, eight Gators were chosen to the SEC Academic Honor Roll, while five other student-athletes made the Freshman Academic Honor Roll. Six members of that season’s squad were picked during the 2010 Major League Baseball Draft: Chapman (4th round, Kansas City Royals), den Dekker (5th round, New York Mets), Toledo (32nd round, Minnesota Twins), catcher Hampton Tignor (36th round, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim), Poovey (41st round, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) and Campbell (43rd round, Cincinnati Reds). Although eight of O’Sullivan’s signees were selected, six turned down professional opportunities to enroll at Florida.
The Gators compiled a 33-3 (.917) mark at McKethan Stadium that established a team record for winning percentage. The win total was the second-highest since the facility opened in 1988, trailing just a 35-5 (.875) record in 1998. Since broken, UF’s total attendance of 126,195 eclipsed the school’s previous standard set in 2006 (123,022) and the average attendance was 3,505 per game.
Under O’Sullivan’s tutelage in 2009, the Gators produced a 42-22 mark, captured the SEC East, rolled through the NCAA Gainesville Regional and earned the squad’s first trip to Super Regionals in four years. Florida finished one game back in the race for the SEC Championship and 27 of the club’s 42 victories were come-from-behind efforts, including 13 against league foes. After capping its season with the program’s third NCAA Super Regional appearance, UF was listed in the top 15 within all four of the collegiate baseball polls.
O’Sullivan’s incoming class prior to ’09, rated fifth by Baseball America, lived up to heady expectations and was led by Tucker. Named the NCBWA Freshman Hitter of the Year and as the SEC Co-Freshman of the Year, the slugger achieved Freshman All-America status from Baseball America, Louisville Slugger, the NCBWA and Rivals.com, in addition to being a unanimous choice on the league’s All-Freshman squad. Rookie pitchers DeSclafani, Maronde and Panteliodis were among the leaders in games started, while Larson was third in appearances.
Adams and outfielder Avery Barnes were chosen first-team All-SEC and right-hander Billy Bullock collected second-team recognition. In addition, den Dekker was named to the SEC All-Defensive Team for the second time and Brandon McArthur received the 2009 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award at the NCAA College World Series. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the award identifies personal qualities that define a complete student-athlete, with criteria including excellence in the classroom, character and community, as well as competition on the field.
Evidence of the increased player development under O’Sullivan was shown by a then-school-record 10 Gators and 12 signees being chosen during the 2009 MLB Draft. The previous high of eight UF players was set in 1999 and equaled in 2002, and the total tied for second nationally behind league rival Georgia (11). Bullock started the parade of Florida selections by being picked in the second round by the Minnesota Twins with the 70th overall choice.
Nine other members of the 2009 UF squad heard their names called:Barnes (11th round, Colorado Rockies), left-hander Tony Davis(12th round, Minnesota Twins), den Dekker (16th round, Pittsburgh Pirates), right-hander Patrick Keating (20th round, Kansas City Royals), catcher Buddy Munroe (22nd round, Minnesota Twins), left-hander Stephen Locke (22nd round, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim), shortstop Mike Mooney (23rd round, Baltimore Orioles), outfielder Riley Cooper (25th round, Texas Rangers) and Chapman (50th round, Chicago White Sox).
The team’s outstanding performance in the classroom continued, as seven players were chosen to the SEC Academic Honor Roll, while seven individuals earned a spot on the league’s Freshman Academic list.
In his first year as a head coach, he directed the Gators to their first NCAA Regional appearance since 2005 and a second-place finish in the East after being picked 11th in the 12-team league. O’Sullivan was just the fourth Florida skipper to lead the team into NCAA play in his debut season and guided the squad to series triumphs over both of the SEC’s division winners and College World Series representatives, Georgia and LSU.
Three of his players, Adams, den Dekker and Keating, achieved first-team All-SEC status, Florida’s most on the first squad since four honorees in 1991. Adams was also a unanimous pick on the SEC All-Freshman Team and collected Freshman All-America acclaim from three different organizations. Keating became the first Gator pitcher to garner first-team All-South Region from the ABCA since Hoyman in 2004, while second-team honoree Adams was the first rookie on the squad since Wilkerson in 1996. Meanwhile, den Dekker earned a berth on the league’s first-ever All-Defensive Team and represented the 2008 USA Baseball National Team that was a perfect 24-0 on its summer tour. Barnes was among the SEC leaders in an assortment of categories during the season and picked up second-team honors.
When O’Sullivan took over the Gator program, one of his top priorities was turning around the team’s pitching staff, which had registered a 5.27 ERA and was the highest in the SEC during the 2007 campaign. Not only did the ’08 squad lower its ERA to 4.39 overall, Florida led the league in conference play with a 4.00 ERA. Offensively, UF’s team batting average went from .290 to .304, and the club’s .305 showing in the 30 conference games was at the top of the chart. The Gators also increased their fielding percentage and turned a league-leading 72 double plays, the fourth-most in school history.
After managing just a 17-17 showing at McKethan Stadium in 2007, Florida rebounded with a 27-6 (.818) ledger under O’Sullivan. This was the highest home winning percentage since the 2003 squad went 31-6 (.839). The Orange and Blue sported a 9-1 series mark at home, highlighted by victories over Auburn (3-0), LSU (2-1), No. 5 Georgia (2-1) and No. 13 Vanderbilt (3-0), and posted a 6-1 win over third-ranked Florida State.
Seventeen members of O’Sullivan’s inaugural team were named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll. The total matched the highest number of Academic All-SEC recipients for Florida baseball in school history, equaling the 17 in 2003, and marked the sixth-consecutive year that the team reached double-digit honorees. UF’s total matched Kentucky for the second most in the league behind Mississippi State (23). An additional five student-athletes earned a spot on the league’s Freshman Academic Honor Roll, tying the Gators’ best performance.
Three members of O’Sullivan’s first team, shortstop Cole Figueroa (sixth round, San Diego Padres), Barnes (40th round, Washington Nationals) and right-hander Josh Edmondson (41st round, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim), were chosen in the 2008 MLB Draft. In addition, eight signees from O’Sullivan’s initial recruiting class were chosen.
The University of Florida and Athletics Director Jeremy Foley announced O’Sullivanas its new baseball coach on June 14, 2007. O’Sullivan arrived in Gator Country after serving nine seasons as the pitching coach and recruiting coordinator at Clemson, where he helped the Tigers to nine-straight NCAA Tournament appearances and College World Series berths in 2000, 2002 and 2006. A native of Jupiter, Fla., O’Sullivan became the 21st head coach in school history.
“This is an exciting day and signals a new chapter for Gator baseball,” Foley said. “What Kevin has accomplished as one of the top assistants in the nation with highly-respected recruiting skills and player development speaks for itself. He possesses the qualities in a head coach that we were looking for and is eager to hit the ground running. We are counting on Kevin to help return our program to the elite level of collegiate baseball.”
Clemson’s associate head coach since 2002, O’Sullivan and the Tigers advanced to NCAA Super Regionals in 2007 for the seventh time since the format was introduced in 1999 before succumbing to Mississippi State. At the time, the total represented the second-most in the nation. A week earlier, the Tigers claimed the Myrtle Beach Regional with an unblemished 3-0 record and ousted top-seeded Coastal Carolina.
Under his tutelage, 29 Tiger hurlers were chosen in the Major League Baseball Draft, including five in June ’07. A school-record 11 Clemson players were taken, highlighted by left-hander Daniel Moskos going fourth overall to the Pittsburgh Pirates. During O’Sullivan’s tenure, 11 pitchers were picked in the top-five rounds, including a trio of first-rounders: Mike Paradis (1999), Tyler Lumsden (2004) and Moskos.
O’Sullivan has also had numerous top-25 recruiting rankings, including the 2005 incoming class that was ranked No. 12 by Collegiate Baseball. That class boasted four of the top-50 freshmen in the country – David Kopp (No. 9), Stan Widmann (No. 14), Taylor Harbin (No. 17), and Brad Chalk (No. 34) – a quartet who was each drafted in June. His 2007 incoming class was ranked fourth by Baseball America as well. In fact, there were a total of seven players from the Sunshine State on the ’07 Tiger roster.
In his first season at Clemson, O’Sullivan fine-tuned Paradis from having control problems his first two seasons to a first-round pick in 1999. He helped Ryan Mottl go 10-4 in 2000 and total 33 career wins, the third-most in school history. Those totals helped Mottl become a sixth-round pick by the Cincinnati Reds.
Under his guidance in 2001, Clemson had a 2.27 strikeout-to-walk ratio, fourth-best in school history. One of his pitchers, Steve Reba, led the ACC in wins in 2001 with a 12-3 record.
He followed up 2001 with a 2002 season that saw Reba and Matt Henrie shine. They had 13 wins apiece and both earned All-America honors. O’Sullivan helped mold Reba and Henrie into a formidable one-two punch that led the Tigers to a third-place national finish. The 2002 team also featured B.J. LaMura, a hard-throwing right-hander who was instrumental in Clemson’s late-season surge to Omaha. LaMura was a fifth-round draft pick, giving the club five pitchers from the 2002 squad who signed Major League contracts. That total does not include Jarrod Schmidt, who fashioned an 18-3 career record at Clemson and signed as well. The 2002 team established an ACC record for saves (26) in a season.
The 2003 team did not have any stars, but all five Tigers with at least 36.0 innings pitched sported an ERA between 3.19 and 4.30. The ’04 squad featured All-ACC reliever Patrick Hogan, who became just the third Tiger in history to record double-digits in saves. O’Sullivan coached Lumsden, who was a first-round draft pick that year. He also helped convert Collin Mahoney from a catcher into a hard-throwing reliever. Mahoney, who had not pitched since high school, saw considerable action that year and was later a fourth-round draft pick of the Detroit Tigers.
The 2005 Tiger pitching staff came on strong in the season’s latter stages. The Tigers registered a 3.94 ERA, Clemson’s lowest in nine years. Josh Cribb fired two shutouts and notched a 97-24 strikeout-to-walk ratio, while Stephen Faris compiled a 2.60 ERA on his way to second-team All-ACC accolades.
His 2006 staff was sixth in the nation in ERA (3.26) and featured the weekend rotation of Faris, Cribb, and Jason Berken, who combined for a 27-6 record and 2.85 ERA. The trio was instrumental in leading the Tigers to the ACC Championship, a trip to Omaha and a No. 5 final ranking in all three polls. In addition, Moskos tallied 10 saves and became an effective closer under the direction of O’Sullivan.
He spent the 1998 season with the Twins’ Rookie League team in Fort Myers, Fla., that reached the playoffs for the first time. He was also responsible for the development of the pitchers.
O’Sullivan was the pitching coach at Virginia in 1996 and 1997, where he coached All-America and first-rounder Seth Greisenger. In ’96, the Cavaliers won their first-ever ACC Tournament title and were 44-21 overall. He coached a total of three pitchers in the two years who were drafted in the top-five rounds, including a first, second, and fifth-round pick to go along with a 14th-rounder in 1997. O’Sullivan, who helped in the recruitment of student-athletes at Virginia, coached players picked in the third and 44th rounds in 1997 as well.
O’Sullivan coached at Florida Atlantic during the 1994 and 1995 seasons, where he was responsible for the hitters, catchers, infielders and outfielders. From 1992-93, he was an assistant at Florida Community College as the hitting and catching instructor.
In two years at Virginia, nine at Clemson and five at Florida, he has coached 60 pitchers who have been drafted or signed pro contracts. This list includes five first-rounders, 19 top-five-rounders, 29 top-10-rounders and nine All-Americans.
O’Sullivan graduated with honors from Virginia with a bachelor’s degree in education/sports medicine in 1991. In Charlottesville, he was a member of UVa’s Captain Council and Student-Athlete Mentor Program. He later earned a master’s degree in exercise science & wellness from Florida Atlantic.
O’Sullivan starred at Virginia as a catcher in 1990 and 1991, where he hit a combined .351. He was a first-team All-ACC and All-ACC Tourney recipient both years and earned a berth on the ACC Academic Honor Roll in 1990. He also played for Florida Community College in 1988 and 1989.
O’Sullivan is married to the former Barbara Jo Davis and the couple resides in Gainesville. They have a daughter named Payton Tyler O’Sullivan and a son named Finn Thomas O’Sullivan.
THE KEVIN O’SULLIVAN FILE
- Full Name: Kevin Michael O’Sullivan
- Birthdate: December 27, 1968 in Goshen, N.Y.
- Hometown: Jupiter, Fla.
- Associate of Arts – Florida Community College, 1989
- Bachelor of Science – Education/Sports Medicine, University of Virginia, 1991
- Master of Science – Exercise Science & Wellness, Florida Atlantic University, 1995
- Date announced as UF head coach: June 14, 2007
- Assistant Coach, Florida Community College, 1992-93
- Assistant Coach, Florida Atlantic University, 1994-95
- Assistant Coach, University of Virginia, 1996-97
- Assistant Coach, Minnesota Twins Rookie League, 1998
- Assistant Coach, Clemson University, 1999-2001
- Assistant Head Coach, Clemson University, 2002
- Associate Head Coach, Clemson University, 2002-07
- Head Coach, University of Florida, 2007-present
- Florida Community College, 1988-89
- University of Virginia, 1990-91
O’Sullivan Year-by-Year Head Coaching Record
|2008||Florida||34-24||.586||17-13||.567||First NCAA Regional trip since 2005|
|2009||Florida||42-22||.656||19-11||.633||NCAA Super Regional, SEC East Champion|
|2010||Florida||47-17||.734||22-8||.733||NCAA College World Series, SEC Champion|
|2011||Florida||53-19||.736||22-8||.733||NCAA CWS Runner-up, SEC Champion|
|2012||Florida||47-20||.701||18-12||.600||NCAA College World Series|
|Totals:||5 years||223-102||.686||98-52||.653||5 NCAA Berths, 3 CWS Trips, 2 SEC Titles|
Florida Baseball Head Coaching Success
|Coach||Victories||SEC Titles||SEC Division Titles||NCAA Trips||CWS Berths|
Games Coached When Reached 200th Win at Florida
|Coach||Games||Total Record at Florida||Winning Pct.|
|Kevin O'Sullivan||285||223-102 in 5 years||.686|
|Joe Arnold||305||434-244-2 in 11 years||.640|
|Jay Bergman||309||216-113 in 6 years||.656|
|Andy Lopez||309||278-159-1 in 7 years||.636|
|Pat McMahon||311||231-143-1 in 6 years||.617|
|Dave Fuller||324||557-354-6 in 28 years||.611|
SEC Regular-Season Records During O’Sullivan’s Tenure
Gator Head Coaches
"The University of Florida has enjoyed a lot of success with young, talented coaches and those were the characteristics we were looking for in the person to lead our baseball program. We found that person in Kevin O'Sullivan." - UF Athletics Director Jeremy Foley
Gator Head Coaches
Kevin O’Sullivan is one of 12 different current Gator head coaches who entered their first season at UF with five or fewer previous years as a collegiate head coach:
|Sport||Head Coach||Prior Experience||As a Gator Head Coach|
|Baseball||Kevin O’Sullivan||None||2011 NCAA College World Series Runner-Up, 2010, ’11 & ’12 CWS appearances; 2010 & ‘11 SEC Champions|
|Men’s Basketball||Billy Donovan||2 years||2006 & 2007 NCAA Champions|
|Women’s Basketball||Amanda Butler||2 years||Postseason all five years, NCAA Tourney in ’09 & ‘12|
|Football||Will Muschamp||None||2011 was his first year; Defeated Ohio State in the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl|
|Women’s Golf||Emily Bastel||None||Hired on June 8, 2012|
|Gymnastics||Rhonda Faehn||None||No. 1 ranking in 2007, ’11 & ‘12; second at 2012, third at ’07 NCAAs|
|Soccer||Becky Burleigh||5 years||1998 NCAA Champions; 11 SEC titles|
|Softball||Tim Walton||3 years||2008, ’09, ’10, ’11 NCAA College World Series; Runner-Up in ’09 & ‘11|
|Swimming & Diving||Gregg Troy||None||2010 NCAA W-Swimming National Champions; 13 & 12 straight top-10 NCAA finishes for men & women|
|Women’s Tennis||Roland Thornqvist||5 years||2003, ’11 and ’12 NCAA Champions; 2002 & ‘10 NCAA Runner-Up|
|Track & Field||Mike Holloway||None||2010, ‘11 & ‘12 NCAA M-Indoor National Champions; 2012 NCAA M-Outdoor National Champions; ’10 NCAA M-Outdoor Runner-Up; 2004, ’05 & ‘09 NCAA M-Indoor & Outdoor Runner-Up|
|Volleyball||Mary Wise||4 years||19 SEC Titles; 7 Final Fours|
Gator Baseball Accomplishments Under O’Sullivan
- All-Americans: Six with 22 honors
- Freshman All-Americans: Nine with 24 honors
- All-South Region: 12 – Five first-team and seven second-team selections
- All-SEC: 23 – 13 first-team and 10 second-team selections
- SEC All-Freshman Team: 10 players with 11 honors
- SEC Academic Honor Roll: 50 selections
- SEC Freshman Academic Honor Roll: 24 selections
- Major League Baseball Draftees: 39 selections – 2008 (3), 2009 (10), 2010 (6), 2011 (school-record 11), 2012 (9)
- Major League Baseball Free Agent Signees: 3
- USA Baseball National Team Members: 4 players, 6 times
- Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award Winners: 1
- Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award Finalists: 2
|Year||Term GPA||Cumulative GPA||Term GPA||Cumulative GPA|