Thursday May 30, 2013Florida Baseball Quotes From NCAA Bloomington Regional Press Conference
Florida head coach Kevin O'Sullivan, junior right-hander Jonathon Crawford (Okeechobee, Fla.) and senior shortstop Cody Dent (Boynton Beach, Fla.) met with the media on Thursday prior to the Gators' NCAA Tournament opener on Friday afternoon against Austin Peay in the NCAA Bloomington Regional.
O’SULLIVAN: We’re excited to be here obviously. It’s been an up and down year for us. We feel like we are fortunate to be in the tournament and we look forward to taking advantage of the opportunity. The facility is beautiful. The field played really well today and it was everything and more from what I expected. It’s a great field and we are looking forward to playing this weekend.
As a young team, how has this team developed and matured as the season has gone along?:
O’SULLIVAN: Team-wise, I think our pitching has been pretty good all year long. I think offensively, we have been young, but I feel like we’ve improved. We have a much better feel of our identity as a team offensively and we’ve gotten healthy too. I think missing Richie (Martin), he broke his finger in like the third week of the year against Miami, and losing him for six weeks certainly put us in a tough situation, so getting him back was big. I think we’ve just continued to improve this season offensively, but I think pitching and defense have been pretty good all year long.
On playing on a turf field as a shortstop:
DENT: It plays perfect, there’s really no bad hops, all hops are true. So it’s nice.
On what it would mean to give the team what it needs from a starting pitcher:
CRAWFORD: I feel confident. I had a good start against Georgia so I feel like I have a lot of momentum coming into this start. So, it will be great to come out and give the team a good start heading into the postseason.
On what the focus has been since his last start a few weeks ago:
CRAWFORD: I gave my arm a lot of rest and have been working on some things in between. I feel good.
On what was told to the outfielders about the short left field wall at Bart Kaufman Field:
O’SULLIVAN: Not a whole lot, we are just trying to put some hits together to be honest with you. I was pleased with how we took (batting practice) today. The ball seems like it jumps out, especially in left with the low wall out there. We’ve had some good practices. We have scrimmaged just about every day. Jonathon (Crawford) threw last Friday about five innings and threw the ball well. He’s looked as good as he has since he’s been here.
We talked about the Georgia start, it was as good of a game as he had probably this whole year and he followed that up with a really good outing in the intra-squad scrimmage. I feel good with him on the mound right now and obviously we’ve got some options otherwise pitching-wise, so we’ll see.
On what having an ace pitcher this time of year does for a potential postseason run:
O’SULLIVAN: I think the tournament is set up that way. Two guys get hot as starters and your offense gets going a little bit, anything can happen. You are five wins away from getting back to Omaha, There are always some funny things that happen in this tournament. To run Jonathon (Crawford) out there tomorrow with the way he’s been throwing the last few times out, I feel really good.
On how this young team has progressed and matured this season:
DENT: At the beginning, we struggled a little bit, but then we found our identity like Coach said and started really to come together. We turned things around and started playing really well and won like seven games in a row there. So that got our confidence up and everyone kind of relaxed and started playing their own game.
On how the tough SEC schedule prepared the team for the postseason:
DENT: I think it prepares us very well. We played one of the hardest schedules in the nation for a reason and that’s to prepare us for the tournament and make it back to Omaha. If you want to be the best you have to play the best and beat the best. That’s what we do.
On what to expect from Austin Peay:
O’SULLIVAN: They’re older, they’ve got some experience. They are very offensive minded. They’ve got a left fielder that can run, their shortstop’s got some stolen bases. They’re two corner infielders have 26 home runs combined, we have 27 as a team. The catcher has been in their program for three years, he looks like a leader on the field. They’ve got a closer that has 21 saves. They are a two seed in this regional for a reason. I think they’ve won 15 straight and I think that is the longest winning streak in the country coming in. They are probably playing the best that have all year long.
On the advantage of the three teams having postseason experience a year ago where Indiana did not play in the postseason last year:
O’SULLIVAN: Experience is always a plus on your side. As far as Indiana’s concerned, we played them in a three-game set earlier this year, they’re good. It’s a very good team offensively, they’ve got some good starting pitching. They have a guy at the end of the game. They are playing great right now. They obviously played really well in their conference tournament. But as far as our team with experience, we don’t have a whole lot of guys that have played in postseason, we have a bunch of guys that haven’t. Last year is last year, this is a totally different club than we have had in the last four or five years. We have leaned on some of those older kids to kind of prepare these guys on what to expect. But, the bottom line is we just have to go out and play.