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Thursday May 28, 2009UF Baseball Pre-NCAA Gainesville Regional Quotes

Gainesville, Fla.

Several members of the Gator baseball team and second-year head coach Kevin O’Sullivan met with the media on Thursday morning prior to the team’s practice at McKethan Stadium. No. 10 Florida (39-20) will start NCAA Regional play on Friday night at 6:30 p.m. versus Bethune-Cookman (32-26).

 

Head Coach Kevin O’Sullivan

On the advantage of playing at home:

“I think for our players it is good because we are more comfortable at home and have played better here, so I am hoping that will continue this weekend.”

 

On hosting an all-Florida field during this NCAA Regional:

“I know that there are some differing opinions about that, but the bottom line is that a team has to play well to advance. Regardless if it is an all-Florida field or teams from outside of the state, we have to play well to advance in this tournament. I really don’t put much thought into who is playing in the Regional. I know some people think ours is tougher than others but I feel like they are all tough at this point in the year. Hopefully, we are just going to play consistent, pitch well, get some timely hits and the rest will take care of itself.”

 

On how Florida compares against Bethune-Cookman:

“More than anything else, they may have more post-season experience on their roster than we do. It seems like every year they are in an NCAA Regional. (Hiram) Burgos has been in the spotlight quite a few times over his career and we haven’t. For some of our guys, this is only their second Regional and for a lot of them, this is their first. I think Regional experience and post-season experience are something that Bethune-Cookman has going for them. Their number one pitcher has had success against some really good teams this year. Offensively, they can run and they’re really athletic. They also have some power in the middle of their lineup. We’re going to have to be on top of our game there is no question.”

 

On Florida’s pitching plans for the weekend:

“We’re going to decide that tonight after practice. We have a lot of options. We don’t have the type of staff where a certain guy pitches on a Friday night or a certain guy that’s been our Sunday starter. We’ve kind of mixed and matched a little bit. We’ll play the right hot-hand at the moment. We’ll evaluate it tonight and finalize a lot of the decisions based on the lineups that Bethune-Cookman will throw out there.”

 

On the freshmen pitchers:

“It starts with the recruiting process. You hopefully recruit kids that are talented. Regardless of how talented they are, there is a learning curve that’s involved. I think that they’ve improved and awful lot and I think they’ve learned from some early weekend series at home and on the road. They’ve all had a lot of really bright moments and a lot of them have had some tough moments that hopefully they’ve learned from.”

 

On the impact of the freshmen pitchers and how much they’ve impacted the team this year:

“I think it’s a team effort, top-to-bottom. I think our lineup top-to-bottom has contributed. If you look at our numbers, I think there are nine or 10 pitchers that have made huge contributions to the staff. I do know that in tournament play, you need a couple guys to really step up and take the lead. Hopefully we’ll get that.”

 

On Miami being in the Gainesville Regional:

“They’re a very good club and they’re very capable of beating anybody in this field. I’m looking forward to it. Anytime that you go through a regional, there’s going to be a couple teams that you have to get through. I’ve been looking at all of the brackets and there’s No. 2, No. 3, and sometimes even No. 4 seeds that have a legitimate shot if things go their way. I don’t really look at it any different, whether it be Miami or whether it be another good club. They’re obviously good and we’re looking forward to the challenge.”

 

On Miami visiting Gainesville in February and sweeping the Gators:

“To be honest with you, our focus is not on Miami right now, our focus is on Bethune-Cookman. I knew that going in, once I saw the brackets, everyone was going to focus in on the Miami game potentially Saturday. I’ve made a huge point this week that we’re not worried about Miami at this point. We’re worried about Bethune-Cookman. I’m hoping our players have conveyed that. I don’t want them focused on Miami. I want all their focus 100 percent on Bethune-Cookman.”

 

On freshman first baseman Preston Tucker:

“He’s clutch. He does a lot of things that older hitters do, as far as hitting good pitching, or even so-so pitching. Leading off an inning and getting a big hit, getting a big hit with runners in scoring position. He doesn’t miss pitches. He’s always ready to go – He’s one of those guys that’s always on go. This guy mentally doesn’t take pitches off. He has an uncanny ability to see the ball a little earlier than most. He doesn’t chase a whole lot and he recognizes if a ball’s going to be a strike or not. Tucker being able to play first base has given us the luxury of being able to move Brandon (McArthur) over to third.”

 

On having four Florida teams at the Gainesville Regional:

“I think that has a lot to do with our strength of schedule. Those mid-week games against the in-state schools really help that. That’s why we want to play the in-state schools as much as possible. Obviously they’re good and we get better by playing them and help our strength of schedule and RPI.”

 

Sophomore Infielder Josh Adams

On what it will take to win this weekend playing in front of a home crowd:

“We know we have to play defense and pitch well. That’s what we have to focus on. It’s awesome to play at home in Gainesville. It’s fun to give our fans something to cheer about. They come out all the time and support us, so just to give them a little excitement is fun. It’s great to be at home, as opposed to traveling, and it’ll be great to get to play in front of a home crowd.”

 

Junior Pitcher Billy Bullock

On the feeling when the Gators received a No. 8 seed:

“It was huge – it was confidence for everybody knowing that we’re considered as one of the top eight teams in the country. It will give us some confidence heading into this weekend knowing we have a really tough regional.”

 

On 2009 being Bullock’s first year being a “challenger” to go to Omaha:

“It’s a welcomed change, that’s for sure, knowing that we have a pretty legitimate shot if we could advance from this regional. It’s a really different experience. Guys just have a lot more confidence in each other and in what we can do. We know that if we play our game, we have a chance at beating everybody. That’s a really good feeling. It’s good to have this opportunity now, as opposed to earlier in my career here, because now I can contribute.”

 

On the freshmenn on the Gator club:

“These guys came in and had a swagger from the get-go. They really felt like they could come in, step up and contribute right away and they proved it and have been able to.”

 

Senior Outfielder Avery Barnes

On the atmosphere in the locker room during the postseason:

“You try to take the same approach to every game that you play. Obviously, it’s a lot more exciting now that it’s the postseason. The atmosphere of the postseason is completely different than the atmosphere during the regular season. We’re really looking forward to it. We’ve got a good ballclub this year. A lot of freshmen have stepped up and played really well. The older guys have been trying to do what they’re supposed to do. It’s been a lot of fun and we’re looking forward to this postseason.”

 

On the road to Omaha going through Gainesville and playing at home:

”It’s awesome. The opportunity to play at home is obviously better anytime that having to play on the road. You get your own support from your fans. The NCAA Regional being in Gainesville is good for us, for our team and our supporters as well. It’s good for them to not have to drive a long way to watch us play. They can just come right here to the “Mac” (McKethan Stadium). It’ll be fun and hopefully we’ll put on a good show.”

 

On being a No. 8 seed heading into NCAA Regionals:

“It’s kind of like the calm before the storm type of thing. When we heard the news during the selection show, we were really excited, but we knew that we have a tough task ahead of us. Right now, everybody is trying to stay extremely focused and we can’t wait until Friday. Anytime you can play at home in the postseason is a plus and for us to put in all of the work that we have this year, to try and do everything that the coaching staff has asked of us and for us to be one of those top eight seeds is an outstanding accomplishment for this team. Hopefully, we can continue the good run that we’re on right now.”

 

Redshirt Senior Third Baseman Brandon McArthur

On facing Bethune-Cookman, Jacksonville and Miami previously this season:

“No matter what happened during the last game of the SEC Tournament or the first game of the regular season, it doesn’t matter now. In our eyes, the first game of the season is on Friday night at 6:30 p.m. Nothing that happened before really matters.”

 

On Bethune-Cookman’s pitching staff:

“We’ve heard that they have some good arms and we are expecting that every team we are going to face is going to bring some good arms. It should be a good game and we’ll be ready to play.”

 

On freshman Preston Tucker:

“He has really solidified himself as a power threat right in the heart of the lineup. It’s been fun to watch him come in here and completely exceed the expectations that were placed on him going into the season. He’s really come in and helped us a lot. He’s protected the guys in front of him and the guys behind him and allowed those guys to really do what they do well. I’ve watched (Matt) LaPorta come in and break a lot of records and to watch Preston begin to break some records really adds to the list of great things I’ve been able to watch while at UF.”

 

On earning home- field advantage:

“It’s huge. One thing that we have done well over the last couple years is to come in here on our home field and do well. To be able to bring this thing to Gainesville and hopefully get the crowd that we are capable of getting will really be a boost for us.”

 

-UF-

 

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