Tuesday September 16, 2008Gator Baseball Releases 2009 Schedule
The University of Florida baseball program and second-year head coach Kevin O'Sullivan announced its 2009 schedule Tuesday. The Gators' 56-game schedule features 35 games within the friendly confines of McKethan Stadium at Perry Field, where the squad compiled a 27-6 (.818) mark last year. UF has 36 games versus opponents who advanced to the NCAA Tournament, 12 of which will be against 2008 College World Series participants Florida State, Georgia, LSU and Miami (Fla.).
For the ninth-consecutive season and the 21st time in 23 years, the Gators will open their season at home, hosting a three-game series against Louisville from Fri.-Sun., Feb. 20-22. The Cardinals reached the CWS in 2007 and posted a 41-21 mark last year. Florida will be tested by the rugged 30-game Southeastern Conference schedule and will also face traditional Sunshine State rivals Florida State, Miami, Bethune-Cookman, Florida Atlantic, Florida Gulf Coast, Jacksonville, North Florida, UCF, USF and Stetson.
"We are looking forward to a challenging schedule and are counting on our Gator fans' continued support," O'Sullivan said. "As a coaching staff, we are eager to begin fall workouts and start preparing for the upcoming season. We made a lot of great progress last spring, return a strong nucleus and have many new faces who we will be counting upon to have an immediate impact."
UF hosts the Hurricanes for three games over Feb. 27-March 1 and will clash with the Seminoles in three mid-week affairs, hosting FSU on March 17, facing their archrivals on March 31 at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville and visiting Tallahassee on April 14. Other national foes who will visit McKethan Stadium include Eastern Michigan (Feb. 24-25) and Duquesne (March 6-8).
Florida will be seeking its league-best 29th appearance at the eight-team SEC Tournament at Regions Park in Hoover, Ala., to be held from May 20-24. Picked to finish 11th in the league, the Gators were 34-24 overall last year and placed second in the SEC East with a 17-13 mark. UF later advanced to NCAA Regionals for the first time since 2005.
The Orange and Blue return 19 letterwinners, including seven pitchers and six players who saw the majority of time at their position last season, and welcome 14 players into the program. The trio of sophomore Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.), junior Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) and senior right-hander Patrick Keating (Harrisburg, Ill.) earned first-team All-SEC last season, while senior outfielder Avery Barnes (High Springs, Fla.) was a second-team recipient. Adams collected Freshman All-America kudos from three different organizations and joined Keating on the ABCA All-South Region list, while den Dekker played for the USA Baseball National Team this summer that completed its tour with a spotless 24-0 record.
Following the SEC's postseason event, Florida will be seeking its 25th NCAA Tournament appearance. Regionals will take place at 16 campus sites from May 29-June 1, followed by the best-of-three Super Regionals spread out among eight venues from June 5-8. Soon after, the eight survivors will advance to the 63rd College World Series at Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, Neb., over June 13-24. UF has reached the CWS five times in school history, most recently in 2005, when it was the national runner-up.
The five, three-game SEC home series pit the Gators against Tennessee (March 20-22), Alabama (March 27-29), Ole Miss (April 17-19), South Carolina (April 24-26) and Kentucky (May 14-16). Florida will open the league schedule in Fayetteville on March 13 against Arkansas and is not slated to face West rival Mississippi State during the regular season. For the fourth-straight year, the final weekend of the SEC regular season will be contested from Thursday-Saturday to provide an extra day off before the start of the league's tourney.
Stops on the Gators' road itinerary include trips to Arkansas (March 13-15), Vanderbilt (April 3-5), Auburn (April 10-12), defending league and Eastern Division champion Georgia (May 1-3) and reigning Western Division and SEC Tournament winner LSU (May 8-10). UF's 2009 schedule boasts 18 games against squads that finished among the top-30 in the final version of the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI).