Wednesday May 28, 2014 Gainesville Regional Preview: A closer look at the visitors
Updated: 6:04pm, May 28
Updated: 6:04pm, May 28
The Gators face College of Charleston in the NCAA Tournament on Friday.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Southeastern Conference regular-champion Gators open NCAA Tournament play on Friday night at 7 against College of Charleston.
Florida is the No. 1 seed in the Gainesville Regional and No. 2 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan and multiple players are scheduled to speak to the media on Thursday morning to preview this weekend’s tournament.
The Gators qualified for the tournament for the seventh consecutive season under O’Sullivan, a school record. This marks the fifth time the Gators have hosted a regional in the last seven years.
Check back with GatorZone.com on Friday for more coverage of Florida.
For now, here is a look at this weekend’s schedule and the rest of the field:
Friday, May 30
Game 1, 1 p.m. on ESPN3: No. 2 Long Beach State (32-24) vs. No. 3 North Carolina (34-25)
Game 2, 7 p.m. on ESPN3: No. 1 Florida (40-21) vs. No. 4 College Of Charleston (41-17)
Saturday, May 31
Game 3: Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser
Game 4: Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner
Sunday, June 1
Game 5: Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 loser
Game 6: Game 5 winner vs. Game 4 winner
Monday, June 2
Game 7: Game 6 winner vs. Game 6 loser (if necessary)
NO. 2 LONG BEACH STATE
Conference: Big West
NCAA Tournaments: 20
Last appearance: 2008
All-time postseason: 47-39
Notable: 14 players in major leagues in 2013, most of any school
Coach: Troy Buckley (fourth season)
Notes: Finished season with five-game win streak and nine wins in last 10 games … Opened season at home against Vanderbilt and got swept by Commodores … Dirtbags have a 2.91 team ERA and set a school record by pitching 10 shutouts … Senior RHP Josh Frye (8-0, 1.51 ERA) anchors staff … Freshman SS Garrett Hampson leads team with a .316 average, senior OF Michael Hill’s eight triples are tied for NCAA lead and senior OF Richard Prigatano has team-high 45 RBIs … Long Beach State has only six home runs in 61 games, fewest of any team in Gainesville Regional … In 2005 the Dirtbags’ lineup featured future big leaguers Troy Tulowitzki at shortstop and Evan Longoria at third base … Dirtbags assistant coach Jesse Zepeda is a former teammate of Gators softball coach Tim Walton at Oklahoma.
Quote of note: “I think we’re in great position. This team has been fighting for its life for the last six weeks so they’re in a good spot to just enjoy what’s in front of them.” – Long Beach State coach Troy Buckley on landing as a No. 2 seed in Gainesville Regional
NO. 3 NORTH CAROLINA
Conference: Atlantic Coast
NCAA Tournaments: 29
Last appearance: 2013
All-time postseason: 94-62
Nickname: Tar Heels
Notable: Six trips to the College World Series in the past eight seasons
Coach: Mike Fox (16th season)
Notes: This is UNC’s 13th consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament … First time since 2010 Tar Heels open regional play on road … North Carolina’s 49 NCAA Tournament wins since 2006 lead nation; UNC has won 14 consecutive NCAA Tournament openers … Tar Heels struggled offensively with a .273 team average, UNC’s worst since 1989 … 1B Alex Raburn gives Fox a versatile player who has started all four infield positions this season … DH Tom Zengel leads team with 33 RBIs … Sophomore RHP Reilly Hovis took over for injured closer Chris McCue and was outstanding, going 8-1 with six saves and a 2.10 ERA … SS Michael Russell (.345, 4 HRs, 32 RBIs) is the toughest out in the lineup and was named to the All-ACC second team.
Quote of note: “You know, we’ve been knocked down some, but I’ve never sensed that we did not have confidence.” – Tar Heels coach Mike Fox on team’s up-and-down season
NO. 4 COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON
Conference: Colonial Athletic Association
NCAA Tournaments: 6
Last appearance: 2012
All-time postseason: 9-10
Notable: An RPI of 53, nearly 100 points better than average RPI (152) of rest of No. 4 seeds
Coach: Monte Lee (sixth season)
Notes: Won CAA Tournament in its first season in league; moved to CAA from Southern Conference … Cougars have hit 34 home runs, most of any team in Gainesville Regional … RHP Taylor Clarke (10-3, 2.65 ERA, 86 Ks) scheduled to face Gators on Friday; Clarke returned to form after missing all of 2013 season following Tommy John surgery … Freshman 6-foot-8 RHP Bailey Ober (9-2, 1.37 ERA) was named CAA Freshman of Year … 3B Carl Wise finished second in the CAA with 52 RBIs … LF Brandon Murray (.270, 6 HRs, 22 RBIs) is back after missing six weeks with a broken arm … Cougars a much better home team (28-7) than road team (11-10) … Only five active players remain from Cougars team that played in Gainesville Regional in 2012 (did not face the Gators)
Quote of note: “I feel like he can compete with anybody in the country. To be honest, it wasn’t something we had to think too hard about.’’ – Cougars coach Monte Lee on decision to start Clarke in Friday’s opener