Thursday, August 20, 2020

Dane Dunning Makes MLB Debut

Earlier tonight on August, 19th, 2020, Dane Dunning made his MLB debut for the Chicago White Sox. He threw 4.1 innings, allowing three earned runs on five hits while striking out seven and walking one in a 5-3 win over the Detroit Tigers. Dane's solid debut was spoiled when he gave up a three-run home run with one out in the top of fifth inning, prompting manager Rick Renteria to pull him from the game on just 73 pitches. However, the White Sox offense responded with two runs in the bottom of the frame to at least ensure that Dane would do no worse than a no decision in his first major league contest.

Dane's Journey

Born in Fleming Island, Florida, Dane played ball at Clay High School in Green Cove Springs, Florida, before committing to stay in-state and play at the University of Florida. From 2014 through 2016, Dane was a force to be reckoned with for the Gators. Primarily as a relief pitcher, Dane posted a 12-6 record with a 3.32 ERA in 160 innings pitched. He struck out 170 batters, walked 46, and notched two saves.

Dane earned two collegiate honors that both came during his junior season. He was named a member of the 2016 SEC Community Service/Good Works Team as well as a member of the 2016 NCAA All-Regional Tournament Team. He also helped Florida reach back-to-back College World Series appearances in 2015 and 2016.

After a successful junior year where he posted a 2.29 ERA and 88 strikeouts in 33 appearances, Dane was selected 29th overall in the first round by the Washington Nationals in the 2016 MLB Draft. Dane would not be a National for long, however, as he was one of three players sent to the Chicago White Sox in exchange for outfielder Adam Eaton on December 7, 2016.

As a highly touted prospect in the White Sox farm system, Dane thrived in the minor leagues and was called up to AA by 2018. Maintaining a 2.76 ERA in 62 innings pitched with 69 strikeouts at the AA level, Dane looked on track to keep climbing the minor league ladder.  However, Dane would not finish out the 2018 season due to a right elbow sprain. To make matters worse, he would not get to pitch at all in 2019 as he had to undergo Tommy John surgery right after the conclusion of spring training. Fortunately, the surgery was a success and Dane fully recovered. 


A rough fifth inning might have knocked him out of the game, but overall I would say Dane had a fine major league debut. His seven strikeouts of 19 batters faced is encouraging. I have no idea if the White Sox will keep him in the rotation or if they just needed a guy to throw a game in the middle of the week. Regardless, Dane made a whole lot of us proud tonight. It was great to see a guy I watched for three years at UF finally get his opportunity in the MLB.  That being said, Dane becomes the fourth member of the 2016 Gator draft class to reach the big leagues along side A.J. Puk (Oakland Athletics), Peter Alonso (New York Mets), and Shaun Anderson (San Francisco Giants).

Friday, February 28, 2020

Houston, We Have A Problem

These last few months have been a whirlwind for Major League Baseball and, in particular, the Houston Astros. Until this past offseason, the Astros were seen as an incredible success story. Having lost 324 games between 2011 and 2013, this organization was able to build an absolute powerhouse around the All-Star core of Jose Altuve, George Springer, Alex Bregman, and Carlos Correa. Throw in some key pitching acquisitions, free agent signings, a top-notch manager in A.J. Hinch, and suddenly the Astros found themselves with their first world championship in 2017 and 311 wins over these past three seasons.

On an individual basis, Houston’s players were thriving. Jose Altuve won the American League MVP in 2017 and five Silver Slugger Awards for the second baseman position from 2014-2018. Alex Bregman finished second in MVP voting this past season, but still won a Silver Slugger for the third baseman position this year. George Springer was the World Series MVP in 2017 and won a Silver Slugger for the outfield position this past year. Justin Verlander won the AL Cy Young Award this past season. Finally, star rookie Yordan Alvarez cemented a fantastic 2019 campaign as he took home the Rookie of the Year Award.

Having assembled such a touted and lauded roster, the Astros looked poised to remain a perennial contender for years to come. After their championship run, they lost in five games in the 2018 American League Championship Series and returned to the World Series in 2019 before falling in seven games. Even after a tough loss to the Washington Nationals in this year’s Fall’s Classic, there was still no doubt that Houston could easily make it back to the World Series in 2020 and many more seasons to come.

Then, reports started to come out. After all this success, the Astros were accused of cheating. In particular, the Astros were accused of stealing signs. Here’s what’s interesting though. As part of the “unwritten rules of baseball”, it’s completely fine and legitimate to steal signs from the opposing catcher, third base coach, manager, or whoever is the source of the signs. What makes Houston’s situation interesting though is how elaborate this scheme was. To put it simply, the Astros utilized video, trash cans, and buzzers (supposedly) among other things to get a leg up on what pitches were being thrown.

These allegations obviously created a firestorm across the MLB and the entire sports world with Houston ultimately being punished for their actions. However, many saw a measly $5 million fine, the firing of manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow, and draft pick forfeitures as a slap on the wrist. Many are calling for Houston to vacate the 2017 World Series championship, the players involved to be suspended (maybe even banned), any awards those players won to be vacated, and for some pitchers’ statistics to be readjusted to account for this advantage Houston had when facing these pitchers.

So with all this in mind, here’s my two cents on the matter. What the Houston Astros did was wrong. Plain and simple. Sign stealing in itself is fine, but the lengths that the Astros went to were unacceptable. The 2017 World Series should NOT be vacated. I do agree that is unfair to the Los Angeles Dodgers that the Astros were using these tactics against them on baseball’s biggest stage.

As a Marlins/Cubs fan, I would be livid if either of my two teams lost the World Series because of an elaborate sign stealing scheme from the opposing team. However, the Astros still had to hit those pitches. Knowing what pitch is coming is helpful, but that by no means guarantees a base hit. It increases the likelihood, yes, but baseball is a weird game where hard hit balls can be lineouts and soft hit balls can be doubles. Also consider this. If we ask the Astros to forfeit their World Series title, let’s also ask the Cincinnati Reds to relinquish their claim to the 1919 World Series championship as the Chicago White Sox blatantly fixed that series to spite their cheapskate owner Charles Comiskey.

Back on point. The firings of both Alex Cora (Red Sox) and Carlos Beltran (Mets) were warranted and the right move to make for both of the organizations who employed them. Especially if it is true that these two individuals played pivotal roles in the implementation of this elaborate sign stealing schematic. Whether Cora should be banned permanently or if this scandal affects Beltran’s Hall of Fame chances are not for me to say. What I will say is that Pete Rose, the all-time hits leader who was banned from baseball for his role in gambling as a manager, has a much stronger case for reinstatement if no harsher action is taken on the key individuals involved in this scandal.

As for the awards, it’s absurd to say they should be vacated. We had players using steroids who were breaking records and winning awards! It makes no sense at all to make Altuve give his MVP award back because he had a leg up on what pitches were being thrown. Barry Bonds hit a record 73 home runs in 2001 and nobody complained about him giving back the National League MVP for that season amid the steroid allegations that cloud his career. I could go on forever, but the point is that there are many past examples of players who used performance enhancing substances and won accolades as a result.

My final point is as follows. Does Houston deserve the criticism it has been getting? Yes. Should an asterisk be put on this World Series? Absolutely. Was the punishment appropriate? That’s not for me to say. Suspending everyone involved, fining the organization an insane amount of money, and taking away all the draft picks in the world can’t change the fact that the Houston Astros won the 2017 World Series. Physically taking that title away will not change that fact either.

It’ll be interesting to see what comes of the investigation into the Boston Red Sox for similar allegations. Many people seem to forget that Houston was not the only one accused of stealing signs. This scandal does put a stain on the MLB, but it’s nothing the league can’t overcome and move on from. For all we know, Houston might not be the only team who has done this. They just happen to be the first one who got caught.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

2019 Gator Baseball: A Year in Review

The 2019 Florida Gator baseball season was a little different than what most Gator fans were accustomed too. With so much talent being taken in these past couple of MLB drafts in addition to the plethora number of freshmen on the roster, this Gator team struggled.

They posted a record of 34-25 and 13-17 in SEC play as Florida stumbled into the NCAA Tournament. Once in the postseason, the youthful Gators could not do much as Florida did not reach the regional final for the first time since 2014. Here's a brief rundown of how the postseason went.

SEC Tournament
Florida finished 11th in the regular season standings and was paired with the No. 6 Texas A&M Aggies (39-23-1) in the First Round. Despite climbing out of an early 3-0 hole, the youthful bullpen would be Florida's downfall as Texas A&M walked off in the bottom of the 10th inning to knock Florida out of the SEC Tournament. At this point, much of Gator Nation was unsure if Florida would even reach the NCAA Tournament.

NCAA Tournament
Call it a miracle, but Florida did reach the NCAA Tournament and was assigned as a No. 3 seed to the Lubbock Regional consisting of the No. 8 nationally seeded Texas Tech Red Raiders (43-18), No. 2 seeded Dallas Baptist Patriots (43-20), and No. 4 seeded Army Black Knights (35-26).

Florida would face off against Dallas Baptist, score eight runs, but still lose 11-8. In the elimination game against Army, the Gators lived to see another day with a 13-5 thrashing of the Black Knights. In a rematch with Dallas Baptist, Florida again scored eight runs and lost as the Patriots defeated the Gators 9-8. At last, this painful and uncharacteristic 2019 season had been put to bed for good.

Season Notes
Despite not making it out of regional play, there are many positives that can still be taken away from this season of Gator baseball. Here are some of the achievements that the Florida Gator baseball team accomplished in 2019:

  • Two shutout victories 
  • Notched eight victories over five ranked opponents. They were (at the time): No. 6/21 Florida State (twice), No. 5 Mississippi State (once), No. 14 LSU (once), No. 23 Tennessee (once), No. 22 Missouri (thrice).
  • Five series sweeps (Long Beach State, Winthrop, Yale, Alabama, Missouri)
  • Won four of their 10 SEC series while suffering losses to Mississippi State (twice), Vanderbilt (thrice), Ole Miss (thrice), South Carolina (once), LSU (twice), Kentucky (once), Georgia (thrice), and Tennessee (twice).
  • Swept Florida State for the fourth consecutive season.
  • Won the Miami series for the fifth consecutive season.
  • Finished with a 26-11 home record in their second-to-last season at McKethan Stadium.
  • Made the NCAA Tournament for the 12th consecutive season and the 35th time overall. 
  • Won one elimination game in the NCAA Tournament.
  • Went 9-5 in midweek games.

Award Winners
After looking at what the team as a whole did, let's now look at some of the accolades that the players themselves earned:


MLB Draft Selections
Here's a look at the Gators who were selected in this year's MLB Draft:

  • Brady McConnell (sophomore): 2nd Round (44th overall) to the KC Royals, shortstop
  • Tyler Dyson (junior): 5th Round (153rd overall) to the Washington Nationals, pitcher
  • Wil Dalton (junior): 8th Round (257th overall) to the Boston Red Sox, outfielder
  • Nelson Maldonado (senior) : 31st Round (947th overall) to the Chicago Cubs, outfielder

Now that the SEC award winners and MLB draftees have been lauded, it's time now to look at the stat leaders for the 2019 season:


Hits: Brady McConnell (76)

RBI's: Kendrick Calilao (49)

Doubles: Nelson Maldonado (14)

Triples: Austin Langworthy (3) (Junior)

Home Runs: Brady McConnell (15)

Batting Average: Nelson Maldonado (.343)

Slugging Percentage: Brady McConnell (.576)

On Base Percentage: Nelson Maldonado (.408)

Stolen Bases: Jacob Young/Jud Fabian (7) (Freshmen)

Runs Scored: Brady McConnell (51)

Total Bases: Brady McConnell (132)

Strikeouts: Brady McConnell (57)

Walks: Cory Action/Jud Fabian (28) (Freshman)

Hit By Pitch: Wil Dalton (11)

Sacrifice Bunts: Jud Fabian/Austin Langworthy (3)

Sacrifice Flies: Kendrick Calilao (8)


Assists: Brady McConnell (114)

Putouts: Kendrick Calilao (409)

Errors: Brady McConnell (15)

Fielding Percentage: Austin Langworthy (.1000)


Wins: Tommy Mace (8) (Sophomore)

Losses: Tommy Mace/Jack Leftwich (5) (Sophomore)

Strikeouts: Tommy Mace (74)

Walks: Tommy Mace (38)

Starting Pitcher ERA: Jack Leftwich (5.31)

Relieving Pitcher ERA: David Luethje (3.86) (Freshman)

Saves: Nolan Crisp (8) (Freshman)

Appearances: Christian Scott/Ben Specht (22) (Freshmen)

Innings Pitched: Tommy Mace (89.2)

Shutouts: Jack Leftwich (1)

Hit By Pitch: Tommy Mace (16)

Balks: Christian Scott (3)

Senior Sendoff
Nelson Maldonado and Blake Reese began their Gator careers in 2016 while Jonah Girand came on board in 2018 after transferring from Seminole State Community College. In their four years, Nelly and Blake have helped lead the Gators to a mark of 187-82 (.695 winning percentage) and 83-47 (.638 winning percentage) since Jonah joined the team. Though their final seasons for the Orange and Blue ended in regional play, these three can look back on their collegiate careers and take much joy in what they accomplished.

Nelson Maldonado
Photo Credits:

Nelson Maldonado was a captain this past season and arguably had one of his best seasons to date as he hit over .300 for the first time and led the Gators in three offensive statistical categories. In his four years as a Gator, Nelly finishes with a slash line of .292/.391/.454 with 253 hits, 163 runs scored, 31 home runs, 149 RBI's, 20 stolen bases, and a .995 fielding percentage.

Nelly's collegiate accolades include:

  • 2019 SEC First Team All-American
  • 2018 & 2017 SEC Regular Season Champion
  • 2018 & 2017 SEC Academic Honor Roll
  • 2017 National Champion
  • 2016 NCAA Gainesville Regional All-Tournament Team

Statistically, Nelly also leaves the Gators as a member of the Top 10 career hits club with 253 base knocks.  This ties him with Mark Kiger for tenth all-time in UF history!

Nelly graduated with a degree in Anthropology, but will have a chance to continue his baseball career as the Chicago Cubs selected him 947th overall in the 31st Round of the MLB Draft. Thank you for these last four years, Nelly!

Blake Reese
Photo Credits:

A Tallahassee boy who chose to take his playing talents down to Gainesville, Blake Reese was an excellent utility man for the Gators and was also a captain this past season. After not playing much his freshman year, Blake's playing time sky-rocketed as he appeared in 141 games over the remaining three years of his Florida career.

One of Blake's most memorable moments came in Game 3 of the 2018 Gainesville Super Regional against Auburn. Standing on third base with two outs in the bottom of the fourth inning in a 1-1 game, Blake successfully stole home plate as teammate Nick Horvath dashed for second base on a delayed steal. This run would prove to be critical, as the Gators would ultimately win the contest by a margin of 3-2.

Blake leaves Gainesville with a slash line of .247/.375/.371 with 91 hits, 68 runs scored, 6 home runs, 62 RBI's, 20 stolen bases, and a .949 fielding percentage.

Blake's accolades include:

  • 2018 NCAA Gainesville Regional All-Tournament Team
  • 2018 & 2017 SEC Regular Season Champion
  • 2018, 2017, & 2016 SEC Academic Honor Roll
  • 2016 National Champion

Blake graduated with a degree in Forestry and will probably do great things keeping Florida's wildernesses preserved as he was not taken in this year's MLB Draft. Thank you for these last four years, Blake!

Jonah Girand
Photo Credits:

Jonah Girand transferred to the University of Florida at the start of the 2018 season. He will most fondly be remembered for his performance in the 2018 Gainesville Regional, where he mashed three home runs over the course of the weekend and earned himself the Most Outstanding Player Award for the regional.

Over the course of his two years at Florida, Jonah finishes with a slash line of .170/.278/.468 with 8 hits, 9 runs scored, 4 home runs, 9 RBI's, and a .1000 fielding percentage. He played a total of 25 games and started 10 of those contests. Jonah's lone collegiate accolade is the Most Outstanding Player Award he received for his performance in the 2018 Gainesville Regional.

Jonah graduated with a degree in Criminology and will do a great job enacting justice in the state of Florida as he was not taken in this year's MLB Draft. Thank you for these last two years, Jonah!

Final Takeaway
Before giving my final thoughts, here are my Top 5 Gator games of the 2019 season:

  1. Florida sweeps Florida State for the fourth straight season - 3/12, 3/26, and 4/9
  2. Wil Dalton hits a go-ahead double in the 8th inning against Miami - 2/23
  3. Jordan Butler hits a walk off home run against South Carolina to win the series - 4/13 
  4. Jack Leftwich shuts out Missouri - 5/17
  5. Florida scores 28 runs on Winthrop - 3/3

2019 can best be described as Florida finally suffering from its success. After losing so many talented and experienced guys to the MLB Draft, Florida had to rely mostly on freshmen during the course of the season. Four freshmen (Jacob Young, Kendrick Calilao, Cory Acton, and Jud Fabian) were in the everyday starting lineup while five freshmen (David Luethje, Nick Pogue, Nolan Crisp, Ben Specht, and Christian Scott) appeared in 15 or more games out of the bullpen.

Florida's roster for 2020 looks like it will consist of six seniors (four of whom transferred in previously), seven juniors, 11 sophomores, and 12 freshmen.

The 2020 Florida recruiting class will most likely contain:

In the transfer portal, I have heard news that both freshman infielder Roberto Pena and sophomore transfer pitcher Justin Alintoff will be looking to play ball somewhere else next season. I would not be surprised if rising junior catcher Cal Greenfield followed suit as he is the same year as starting backstop Brady Smith, who played in 56 games this year and started 53 of those contests. The Gators will also be losing long-time assistant coach, Brad Weitzel, who has served 12 years on the Gator staff along side head coach Kevin O'Sullivan.

As frustrating as it was to see the team struggle this year, a season like this can go a long way for these freshmen as they progress in their UF careers. Many of them received a good amount of playing time, and by the time they are juniors and seniors the Gators will once again be a juggernaut on the diamond. 

This isn't the first time Kevin O'Sullivan has dealt with a rough season. In fact, the last time Florida did not reach a super regional (2014), they only went on to rack up four straight College World Series appearances in the following seasons and of course a national championship in 2017.

Thank you for everything, 2019 Gator Baseball! Go Gators!

*All stats accredited to
**All awards & honors accredited to



Tuesday, June 4, 2019

2019 Gator Softball: A Year in Review

The Florida Gator softball team came into 2019 with the usual national championship expectations that the program has become accustomed to. It was a shakier campaign than past seasons, as Florida failed to top 50 wins for the first time since 2012 and suffered five series losses in SEC play.

Despite a 49-18 overall record and 12-12 mark in conference play, the Gators were still able to make something of this season with their fifth SEC Tournament Championship and 10th appearance in the Women's College World Series.

SEC Tournament
In the SEC Tournament, the No. 6 seeded Gators used an exhilarating four-run 7th inning to walk off against the No. 5 seeded South Carolina Gamecocks (38-19). The game-winning double came off the bat of sophomore Jordan Matthews, who sent a missile off the left field wall.

In the next two games, senior Kelly Barnhill registered outstanding pitching performances as the Gators blanked the Tigers of No. 3 seeded LSU (43-19) and No. 10 seeded Auburn (39-21) by scores of 3-0 on route to the SEC Championship.

In a rematch with No. 1 seeded Alabama (60-10), who had swept Florida in Gainesville in mid-April, senior Amanda Lorenz hit a clutch two-run double with two outs in the sixth inning to propel the Gators to a 2-1 victory and an SEC Tournament title.

NCAA Regionals
Earning the No. 5 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, the Gators were back at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium hosting the Gainesville Regional. Florida did not allow a run throughout the entire regional as they blanked Boston University (37-20) by a mark of 3-0 and Boise State (36-16) by scores of 8-0 and 5-0 to advance to their seventh consecutive super regional.

NCAA Super Regionals
In supers, the Gators were paired up with a familiar SEC foe in the No. 12 seeded Tennessee Volunteers (43-17). The Vols had taken two out of three from the Gators in Gainesville in the first SEC series of the year, so this was no pushover opponent for Florida.

The Gators rode a solid outing from Kelly Barnhill to take Game 1 by a margin of 3-0. Game 2 would need extra innings as the Vols literally walked off 3-2 with a game-winning bases loaded walk in the bottom of the ninth inning. Game 3 would require an extra frame as well, but junior Jamie Hoover made sure the Gator faithful went home happy as she smoked a line drive over the shortstop's head into left field to plate Amanda Lorenz and send the Gators to Oklahoma City for the third straight year.

Women's College World Series
Once the Gators got to Oklahoma City, their magic began to fade. The No. 13 Oklahoma State Cowgirls (45-17) narrowly defeated Florida 2-1 in the opening round and then Alabama enacted their revenge with a 15-3 thrashing of the Gators in five innings. For the second straight season, the Gators had failed to even reach the semifinals of the College World Series.

Season Accomplishments
Despite another tough ending in Oklahoma City, the 2019 Florida Gator softball team accomplished much over the course of the season. Here are some of their noteworthy achievements from 2019:

  • SEC tournament champions for the 5th time in program history
  • Posted over 40 wins for the 20th time in school history and for the 17th consecutive year
  • 25 shutout victories
  • 11 run-rule victories
  • Notched 21 victories over 14 ranked opponents (Part I). They were (at the time): No. 14 MichiganNo. 6 ArizonaNo. 12 Arizona StateNo. 17 OregonNo. 5 WashingtonNo. 7/12 Tennessee (thrice), No. 8/10 LSU (twice)
  • Part II: No. 19 MinnesotaNo. 22 Ole Miss, No. 22 Arkansas (thrice), No. 4 Florida StateNo. 19/24 Auburn (thrice), No. 20 South Carolina, No. 4 Alabama 
  • 2 series sweeps (Arkansas, Texas A&M)
  • series wins (Arkansas, Texas A&M, Auburn)
  • Won their 12th regional title
  • Reached the Women's College World Series for the 10th time in program history.

Award Winners
After highlighting the team's success, let us now look at the individual Gator players who garnered recognition and accolades for their performances this season:

  • NFCA First Team All-Americans 
    • OF - Amanda Lorenz
  • NFCA Second Team All-Americans
    • P - Kelly Barnhill
  • NFCA Southeast All-Region First Team
    • P - Kelly Barnhill
    • OF - Amanda Lorenz
    • UT/DP - Kendyl Lindaman
      • First Team All-SEC
        • IF - Amanda Lorenz
        • DP/UT - Kendyl Lindaman
      • Second Team All-SEC
        • P - Kelly Barnhill
      • SEC All-Defensive Team
        • 1B - Amanda Lorenz

      Now that we have highlighted the award winners, let us take a look at the stat leaders from the 2018 campaign:

      Hits: Amanda Lorenz (78)

      RBI's: Kendyl Lindaman (54)

      Doubles: Amanda Lorenz (14)

      Triples: Amanda Lorenz (4)

      Home Runs: Kendyl Lindaman (15)

      Batting Average: Amanda Lorenz (.422)

      Slugging Percentage: Amanda Lorenz (.719)

      On Base Percentage: Amanda Lorenz (.562)

      Stolen Bases: Sophia Reynoso (6)

      Runs Scored: Amanda Lorenz (57)

      Total Bases: Amanda Lorenz (133)

      Strikeouts: Jordan Roberts (55) (Junior)

      Walks: Amanda Lorenz (62)

      Hit By Pitch: Sophia Reynoso (19)

      Sacrifice Bunts: Hannah Adams (11)

      Sacrifice Flies: Amanda Lorenz (4)


      Assists: Hannah Adams (97)

      Putouts: Jordan Roberts (325)

      Errors: Hannah Adams (5)

      Fielding Percentage: Jordan Roberts/Jaimie Hoover (1.000) 


      Wins: Kelly Barnhill (34)

      Losses: Kelly Barnhill (14)

      Strikeouts: Kelly Barnhill (358)

      Walks: Kelly Barnhill (81)

      Earned Run Average: Kelly Barnhill (1.61)

      Shutouts: Kelly Barnhill (11)

      Complete Games: Kelly Barnhill (14)

      Saves: Kelly Barnhill (3)

      Appearances: Kelly Barnhill (52)

      Innings Pitched: Kelly Barnhill (287.0)

      No-Hitters & Perfect Games
      This year the Florida Gators had two instances where their opponent failed to record a hit. Here's a brief breakdown of those games:
      • April 26th - In their last SEC road series of the regular season, Florida set the tone against Auburn in the series opener as Kelly Barnhill no hit the Tigers while striking out 10 batters.
      • May 18th -  In an abridged five-inning game in the regional semifinal, Florida's pitching kept Boise State confused all game as Kelly Barnhill (2.0 IP and 3 K's) and sophomore Natalie Lugo (3.0 IP and 2 K's) combined for the postseason no-no.

      Senior Sendoff
      In their four years playing for the Orange and Blue, the quintet of Kelly Barnhill, Amanda Lorenz, Alex Voss, Lily Mann, and Theresa Swertfager experienced the privilege of a Women's College World Series appearance in three of their four seasons. In the four years they all played at Florida, the Gators posted an overall record of 219-36 (.859 winning percentage).

      Kelly Barnhill
      Photo Credits: Pinterest

      Kelly Barnhill will be remembered as one of the greatest pitchers in Florida Gator softball history.  In her four years on the bump she has equaled and even surpassed many of elite arms that have come through this program before her.

      Despite a rough outing in her final start in Oklahoma City, Kelly finishes her remarkable UF career with a 104-22 record, a 1.26 ERA, 7 saves, 1205 strikeouts, and 170 walks in 787.1 innings pitched. In addition, she tossed one perfect game, six no hitters, and nine one hitters in her tenure for the Orange and Blue.

      The lengthy list of her career accolades include:

      • 2019 All-American Second Team
      • 2018 & 2017 NFCA All-American First Team
      • 2019, 2018, 2017 NFCA Southeast All-Region First Team
      • 2018 Easton/NFCA All-America Scholar Athlete
      • 2018 Louisville Slugger/NFCA Pitcher of the Week for the week of February 27
      • 2017 Louisville Slugger/NFCA National Pitcher of the Week for the week of April 18
      • 2016 NFCA Freshman of the Year Top Three Finalist
      • 2016 Third Team Southeast All-Region
      • 2019 SEC Tournament MVP
      • 2019 All-SEC Tournament Team
      • 2018 & 2017 SEC Pitcher of the Year
      • 2018 & 2017 All-SEC First Team
      • 2018 SEC Community Service Team
      • 2018, 2017, 2016 SEC Academic Honor Roll
      • 2018 SEC Pitcher of the Week for the weeks of February 26; March 5 & 27; & April 17
      • 2017 SEC Pitcher of the Week for the weeks of February 20; April 11, 18, 25; & May 2
      • 2016 SEC All-Freshman Team
      • 2016 SEC Freshman of the Week for the weeks of March 21, & May 9
      USA Softball
      • 2018 USA Softball Player of the Year Top 4 Finalist
      • 2018 USA Softball Co-Player of the Week for the week of February 27
      • 2018 Team USA Member
      • 2017 USA Softball Collegiate National Player of the Year
      • 2017 USA Softball Collegiate National Player of the Week for the week of  April 18
      Miscellaneous Honors
      • 2018 CWSA Honda Sports Award Top 4 Finalist
      • 2018 Google Cloud/CoSIDA Academic All-American of the Year
      • 2018 Google Cloud/CoSIDA Academic All-American First Team
      • 2017 Honda Sport Award Winner
      • 2017 EspnW Player of the Year
      • 2017 ESPY – Best Female Collegiate Athlete
      • 2017 WCWS All-Tournament Team
      • 2017 CoSIDA Academic All-American First Team
      • 2017 EspnW Player of the Week for the week of April 19

      Statistically, Kelly leaves the Gators as Top 5* in:
      • Strikeouts – 1,205 (First)
      • Shutouts – 52 (Second)
      • Wins – 104 (Third)
      • Starts – 137 (Third)
      • ERA – 1.26 (Fifth)

      Kelly graduated with a degree in Public Relations, but may not have to use that degree just yet as the Chicago Bandits selected her first overall in the 2019 National Pro Fastpitch College Draft. If she decides to play, Kelly would be the only Gator on the Bandits after the departure of Aleshia Ocasio (Class of 2018) to go coach at Howard University. Thank you for these last four years, Kelly!

      *Could not calculate Opponent's Batting Average, Strikeouts Per 7 Innings, Combined Shutouts, Strikeouts Looking, & Lowest Stolen Base Percentage because I don't have the necessary data available to me.

      Amanda Lorenz
      Photo Credits: Ventura County Star

      Earning the nickname "Mandy Softball", Amanda Lorenz has been one of the integral pieces of the Gator offense since the time she stepped on campus as a freshman. In her four years in Gainesville, Amanda finishes with a slash line of .403/.550/.686, 294 hits, 245 runs, 40 home runs, 192 RBI's, 31 stolen bases, and a .996 fielding percentage. Her collegiate honors include: 

      • 2019, 2018, 2017 NFCA All-American First Team
      • 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016 NFCA Southeast All-Region First Team
      • 2018 Easton/NFCA All-America Scholar Athlete
      • 2016 NFCA All-American Third Team
      • 2016 NFCA Freshman of the Year
      • 2019 SEC Tournament MVP
      • 2019 SEC All-Defensive Team
      • 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016 All-SEC First Team
      • 2019 & 2018 All-SEC Tournament Team
      • 2018 SEC Player of the Year
      • 2018 SEC Tournament Most Valuable Player
      • 2018, 2017, 2016 SEC Academic Honor Roll
      • 2018 SEC Player of the Week for the week of February 26
      • 2016 SEC Freshman of the Year
      • 2016 SEC All-Freshman Team
      • 2016 SEC Freshman of the Week for the week of March 28
      USA Softball
      • 2018 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Top 4 Finalist
      • 2018 Team USA Member
      Miscellaneous Honors
      • 2018 CWSA Honda Sports Award Top 4 Finalist
      • 2017 WCWS All-Tournament Team

      Statistically, Amanda leaves the Gators as Top 10* in:
      • Batting Average – .403 (First)
      • On Base Percentage – .550 (First)
      • Doubles – 59 (First)
      • Walks – 238 (First)
      • Hits – 294 (Second)
      • Total Bases – 507 (Second)
      • Slugging Percentage – .686 (Third)
      • Runs – 245 (Third)
      • Triples – 12 (Third)
      • RBI's – 192 (Sixth)

      Amanda graduated with a degree in Sports Management but will most likely continuing playing as the USSSA Pride selected her second overall behind Kelly Barnhill in the 2019 National Pro Fastpitch College Draft. She will be the third Gator to join the Pride along with pitcher Hannah Rogers (Class of 2014) and Kirsti Merritt (Class of 2016). Thank you for these last four years, Amanda!

      Alex Voss
      Photo Credits: Daily Commercial

      Hailing from my hometown of Coral Springs, Florida, Alex Voss was one of those players who began to see more playing time in her junior and senior seasons at Florida.

      A fantastic utility player, Alex finishes her four years for the Orange and Blue with a slash line of .210/.275/.299, 47 hits, 56 runs, 1 home run, 19 RBI's, 10 stolen bases, and a .982 fielding percentage. Her collegiate merits include:

      • 2018 Easton/NFCA All-America Scholar Athlete
      • 2018, 2017, 2016 SEC Academic Honor Roll

      Alex graduated with a degree in Sports Management and will not be pursuing a professional softball career. Thank you for these last four years, Alex!

      Lily Mann
      Photo Credits:

      Lily Mann saw plenty of action throughout her collegiate career as she appeared in 120 games. Unfortunately she was never given a start in any of those contests. Nevertheless, Lily concludes her Gator career with a slash line of .250/.421/.353, 6 hits, 29 runs, 3 RBI's, 5 stolen bases, and a .1000 fielding percentage. Her collegiate honors include:

      • 2018 NFCA All-America Scholar Athlete
      • 2018, 2017, 2016 SEC Academic Honor Roll

      Lily graduated with a degree in Applied Kinesiology & Physiology and will not be playing professional softball after college. Thank you for these last four years, Lily!

      Theresa Swertfager
      Photo Credits: Instagram

      Rounding out another great UF senior class is Theresa Swertfager. In her four years in Gainesville, Theresa ends her collegiate career with a triple identical slash line of .286/.286/.286, 4 hits, 1 RBI, 4 sacrifice hits, and a .1000 fielding percentage. Her collegiate honors include:

      • 2018 NFCA All-America Scholar Athlete
      • 2018, 2017, 2016 SEC Academic Honor Roll

      Theresa graduated with a degree in Education and will not be playing softball professionally. Thank you for these last four years, Theresa!

      Final Takeaway
      It definitely felt like a different season than I was accustomed to for Gator softball, but at the end of the day the girls still made it to the Women's College World Series. A team that finished sixth overall in the SEC regular season standings found a way to win the conference tournament, run the table in their regional, get back to Oklahoma City, and be competitive in one of the two games during their short stint in the WCWS.

      The loss of Barnhill will be a tremendous blow to the pitching staff while Lorenz's absence in the lineup will absolutely be felt on the offensive side. As it stands right now, the 2020 squad is set to boast six seniors, six juniors, eight sophomores (which includes transfer infielder Charla Echols from Michigan State), and probably six to seven freshmen in the incoming recruiting class.

      As always, head coach Tim Walton will figure it out and the expectations of making the Women's College World Series should remain the same at the University of Florida for the foreseeable future.

      Thank you for everything, 2019 Gator Softball! Go Gators!

      *All stats accredited to
      **All awards & honors accredited to &



      Monday, May 27, 2019

      2019 College World Series Predictions

      So here we are again. Earlier today, the NCAA selection committee reveled the 64-team field for the 2019 NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament. The national seeds are as follows: No. 1 UCLA, No. 2 Vanderbilt, No. 3 Georgia Tech, No. 4 Georgia, No. 5 Arkansas, No. 6 Mississippi State, No. 7 Louisville, No. 8 Texas Tech, No. 9 Oklahoma State, No. 10 East Carolina, No. 11 Stanford, No. 12 Ole Miss, No. 13 LSU, No. 14 North Carolina, No. 15 West Virginia, and No. 16 Oregon State.

      This breaks down to six SEC teams, three ACC teams, three Big 12 teams, three Pac-12 teams, and one AAC team.

      As I say every year, I must emphasize that baseball is HARD TO PREDICT and that I do these picks hoping for crazy upsets and great narratives all the way up through the College World Series. So without further adieu, here are the ZKS predictions for the 2019 NCAA Division 1 Baseball Tournament!


      Los Angeles Regional
      No. 1 UCLA (47-8)
      Baylor (34-17)
      Loyola Marymount (32-23)
      Omaha (31-22-1)

      Winner: No. 1 UCLA over Baylor

      Why: I'm skeptical of a top-seeded UCLA team as they failed to make it out of their own regional when I picked them in my first College World Series predictions article back in 2015. That being said, UCLA won the Pac-12 regular season title and has won 10 games in a row. I'll reserve my skepticism for now. UCLA advances to supers.

      Corvallis Regional
      No. 16 Oregon State (36-18-1)
      Creighton (38-11)
      Michigan (41-18)
      Cincinnati (30-29)

      Winner: No. 16 Oregon State over Creighton

      Why: The Beavers are the defending national champions, and a bumpy month of May shouldn't take away from the fact that they were a top-10 team for most of the year. Despite the fact that Creighton is on an eight-game winning streak and has won both the Big East regular season and tournament championships, I still think Oregon State prevails in a hard-fought regional final. One final stat to keep in mind is that the Beavers are 17-10 at home while the Bluejays are an impressive 21-5 on the road.

      Lubbock Regional
      No. 8 Texas Tech (39-17)
      Dallas Baptist (41-18)
      Florida (33-24)
      Army (35-24)

      Winner: No. 8 Texas Tech vs Dallas Baptist

      Why: I love my Gators, but I am no homer. The Red Raiders of Texas Tech won the Big 12 regular season title and have been to three College World Series dating back to 2014. Even though DBU won a share of the Mountain Valley Conference regular season title and has been one of the better smaller schools in college baseball these past few seasons, they will not be able to stymie a junior-laden Tech team.

      Stillwater Regional
      No. 9 Oklahoma State (36-18)
      UConn (36-23)
      Nebraska (31-22)
      Harvard (27-14)

      Winner: No. 9 Oklahoma State over UConn

      Why: The Pokes of Oklahoma State kicked off May with a three-game sweep of Oregon State in Corvallis and rode that momentum to win the Big 12 Tournament and 11 of their last 13 games. This is a very favorable regional draw for Oklahoma State and they should have no problem advancing to super regionals.

      Fayetteville Regional
      No. 5 Arkansas (41-17)
      California (32-18)
      TCU (32-26)
      Central Connecticut (30-21)

      Winner: No. 5 Arkansas over TCU

      Why: Arkansas came one out and one strike away from a national championship only to see it crumble right before their eyes with an epic comeback from Oregon State in the College World Series Finals last year. This year, the Razorbacks are ready to finish the job. They won a share of the SEC West with 20 conference wins and finished 28-6 at home.

      In addition to their win-loss records, Arkansas's roster still has many of the players who remember that heartbreaking defeat a year ago. The motivation and talent are there and not even a historically good TCU will stop the Razorbacks from stomping through their regional.

      Oxford Regional
      No. 12 Ole Miss (37-25)
      Illinois (36-19)
      Clemson (34-24)
      Jacksonville State (37-21)

      Winner: No. 12 Ole Miss over Clemson

      Why: Ole Miss shocked the world last year... but in a bad way. The Rebels, up two games to none in the regional final, dropped two straight to Tennessee Tech to end their season. This year, the SEC Tournament runner-up will reach their first super regional since 2014. I say that because Clemson in this regional, and as high as I am on the Tigers each postseason they continually let me down with a loss to an SEC school. That trend will not change here. Say Hotty Toddy because the Rebs will get to supers!

      Athens Regional
      No. 4 Georgia (44-15)
      Florida Atlantic (40-19)
      Florida State (36-21)
      Mercer (35-27)

      Winner: Florida Atlantic over No. 4 Georgia

      Why: The first major shakeup of this tournament comes in the Athens Regional as the Owls stuns the Bulldogs. FAU may have went 10-5 in May, but did enough to win the Conference USA regular season championship. Some may call it Gator bias on my part with Georgia and Florida State in this regional, I call it looking at history and seeing that a No. 2 seed won the Athens regional last year as well. It's a risky pick, but that's what these articles and this tournament is all about.

      Baton Rouge Regional
      No. 13 LSU (37-24)
      Arizona State (37-17)
      Southern Miss (38-19)
      Stony Brook (31-21)

      Winner: No. 13 LSU over Arizona State

      Why: I tuned into Tiger baseball periodically when I could and my most consistent observation is that this team is dangerous at home. For the season, LSU posted a 27-9 record at Alex Box Stadium and always seems to find a way to win games in the late innings. No matter the sport (softball or baseball), seeing Arizona State in a bracket always makes me raise an eyebrow. However, I think the aura of LSU at home will be too much to overcome ultimately.

      Nashville Regional
      No. 2 Vanderbilt (49-10)
      Indiana State (41-16)
      McNeese State (35-24)
      Ohio State (35-25)

      Winner: No. 2 Vanderbilt over Indiana State

      Why: Vanderbilt is absolutely filthy this year with SEC Player of the Year JJ Bleday leading the way along with three other First Team All-SEC Commodores and SEC Coach of the Year Tim Corbin. The Commodores won both the SEC regular season and tournament titles (climbing out of a 9-1 deficit in the SEC Championship Game) and have been in the Top 5 all year. They can do it all. The lineup is loaded and the pitching is lights out. They will shred through this regional.

      Morgantown Regional
      No. 15 West Virginia (37-20)
      Texas A&M (37-21-1)
      Duke (31-25)
      Fordham (38-22)

      Winner: No. 15 West Virginia over Texas A&M

      Why: Almost heaven West Virginia! Despite a fourth place finish in the Big 12 regular season standings and losing in the conference championship to Oklahoma State, the Mountaineers still were awarded a national seed. Texas A&M will push them to the limit, but I think West Virginia cracks their first super regional in program history!

      Louisville Regional
      No. 7 Louisville (43-15)
      Indiana (36-21)
      Illinois State (34-24)
      Illinois-Chicago (29-21)

      Winner: No. 7 Louisville over Indiana

      Why: After a disappointing ending in the Lubbock regional last season, the Cardinals responded with a fantastic 2019 regular season. They won the ACC regular season title and posted a 27-7 mark at home. Despite an 0-2 performance in the ACC tournament, the Cards have probably the best shot of any ACC team in this tournament to make a deep run.

      Greenville Regional
      No. 10 East Carolina (43-15)
      North Carolina State (42-17)
      Campbell (35-19)
      Quinnipiac (29-27)

      Winner: North Carolina State over No. 10 East Carolina

      Why: My second upset of regional play comes in Greenville. After failing to take care of business as a regional host last year, the Wolfpack will seize the opportunity before them. They were a Top 10 team for a majority of the season and made it to the semifinals of the ACC Tournament. They finished second in the ACC Atlantic behind Louisville and are 16-6 on the road. This will be a regional that will require a winner-take-all elimination game in the final.

      Starkville Regional
      No. 6 Mississippi State (46-13)
      Miami (39-18)
      Central Michigan (46-12)
      Southern (32-22)

      Winner: No. 6 Mississippi State over Miami

      Why: I have been high on Mississippi State since they came into Gainesville and took two out of three from Florida. This program was a win away from the College World Series Finals last year and is probably the most complete team in this tournament in my opinion. SEC Pitcher of the Year Ethan Small has been a force on the mound and newcomer JT Ginn has provided a spark to an already explosive offense as SEC Freshman of the Year. 

      The Bulldogs have four First Team All-SEC selections with senior and all-time SEC hits leader Jake Mangum leading the way. This is a team I am very high on and not even the rejuvenated Hurricanes of Miami will be able to stop the co-champions of the SEC West.

      Stanford Regional
      No. 11 Stanford (41-11)
      UC-Santa Barbra (45-9)
      Fresno State (38-14-1)
      Sacramento State (39-23)

      Winner: Fresno State over UC-Santa Barbra

      Why: Stanford has not been to a super regional since 2014. In every prediction article I have written, I usually always pick against the Cardinal. That continues today with my third upset pick of the tournament. The Cardinal do not even make the regional final. Instead, we get the Bulldogs and the Gauchos.

      There is so much to like about this matchup. Both teams are 18-6 on the road and both teams won their respective conferences. In a great matchup, I got Fresno State taking it over UC-Santa Barbra. The Bulldogs will advance to their first super regional since winning the whole College World Series back in 2008!

      Atlanta Regional
      No. 3 Georgia Tech (41-17)
      Auburn (33-25)
      Coastal Carolina (35-24-1)
      Florida A&M (27-32)

      Winner: Coastal Carolina over No. 3 Georgia Tech

      Why: Coastal Carolina caught fire to win the Sun Belt Tournament and secure a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Their conference record is a modest 15-13 and their 10-11 record on the road is troubling. However, this is the same program that pulled off a miracle run as a two seed in 2016 on route to the first national championship in school history. This regional would probably go the distance, but I think Coastal can pull off the upset against a very good Georgia Tech team.

      Chapel Hill Regional
      No. 14 North Carolina (42-17)
      Tennessee (38-19)
      Liberty (42-19)
      UNC-Wilmington (32-29)

      Winner: No. 14 North Carolina over Liberty

      Why: The Tarheels won the ACC Championship to secure a national seed and are an impressive 33-6 at home. UNC boasts many returning players from last year's College World Series team with four seniors and 10 juniors. I usually peg the Heels for choking in regional play, but this year they take care of business no problem.

      Super Regionals
      So if somehow I went a perfect 16/16 on regional winners, let's check out how super regionals would shape up! Keep in mind that a team has to win two out of three games in supers to advance to the College World Series.

      Los Angeles Super Regional
      No. 1 UCLA vs No. 16 Oregon State

      Winner: No. 16 Oregon State

      Why: The Bruins and Beavers met earlier in Mid-March in Los Angeles and saw Oregon State take two out of three in the series. I have no reason to think why they could not do it again. In a three-game gauntlet, Oregon State advances back to Omaha to defend their title.

      Lubbock Super Regional
      No. 8 Texas Tech vs No. 9 Oklahoma State

      Winner: No. 9 Oklahoma State

      Why: The Red Raiders swept the Cowboys in Lubbock back in late-April, but this time Oklahoma State gets revenge. Like their female counterparts on the softball diamond, the Pokes find a way to pull the upset in three games.

      Fayetteville Super Regional
      No. 5 Arkansas vs No. 12 Ole Miss

      Winner: No. 5 Arkansas

      Why: Here we have an absolute primetime matchup and what would be our third rematch of teams who played each other in the regular season. In late March, the Rebels came in and took two out of three from the Razorbacks in Fayetteville. This time around, Arky will get the last laugh as they outlast Ole Miss in three games. 

      Baton Rouge Super Regional
      No. 13 LSU vs Florida Atlantic

      Winner: No. 13 LSU

      Why: Gifted a super regional with the upset in Athens, the Tigers will continue to roll at home as they stomp FAU in two to get back to Omaha after missing out last year.

      Nashville Super Regional
      No. 2 Vanderbilt vs No. 15 West Virginia

      Winner: No. 2 Vanderbilt

      Why: Vanderbilt wins in two and it won't be close.

      Louisville Super Regional
      No. 7 Louisville vs North Carolina State

      Winner: No. 7 Louisville

      Why: The fourth rematch of supers, the Cards and Wolfpack met in Louisville in mid-April when NC State was ranked No. 2 in the country. All Louisville did was sweep NC State and put up 14 runs in two of the games. With such a good track record from the regular season, I like the Cards in two.

      Starkville Super Regional
      No. 6 Mississippi State vs Fresno State

      Winner: No. 6 Mississippi State

      Why: The Fresno state underdog story is great but it ends in Starkville. Miss State pounds the ball all over the yard and wins in two.

      Chapel Hill Super Regional
      No. 14 North Carolina vs Coastal Carolina

      Winner: No. 14 North Carolina

      Why: I think Coastal could push it to three, but ultimately the veteran Tarheels will prevail in three games to reach Omaha.

      College World Series
      We now arrive at the final eight in Omaha! Let's see who the 2019 National Champion will be! Keep in mind that two losses, similar to regionals and super regionals, will result in elimination. Let's get started!

      College World Series First Round
      No. 9 Oklahoma State vs No. 16 Oregon State

      Winner: No. 16 Oregon State

      Why: Our first game of the College World Series gives us another rematch for Oregon State. Remembering what the Pokes did to them in Corvallis, Oregon State gets revenge and takes their fourth meeting of the year.

      No. 5 Arkansas vs No. 13 LSU

      Winner: No. 5 Arkansas

      Why: Arkansas took two out of three on the road against LSU and scored double digit runs in both of the victories. In Omaha, it will be a closer contest but Arky will still win by a comfortable margin.

      No. 2 Vanderbilt vs No. 7 Louisville

      Winner: No. 2 Vanderbilt

      Why: This will be Vandy's first real test of the postseason. It'll be the closest game they have played to this point in the tournament, but the Commodores will prevail over a very talented Louisville squad.

      No. 6 Mississippi State vs No. 14 North Carolina

      Winner: No. 6 Mississippi State

      Why: After cruising into Omaha, the Bulldogs will do enough to get past a stingy Tarheel team to advance to the second round.

      Elimination Games
      No. 9 Oklahoma State vs No. 13 LSU

      Winner: No. 9 Oklahoma State

      Why: The Pokes will do enough to wade off the LSU aura that seems to travel up to Baton Rouge North with them in June. Ultimately I do not think LSU will have the pitching to survive the loser's bracket.

      No. 7 Louisville vs No. 14 North Carolina

      Winner: No. 7 Louisville

      Why: Shockingly enough, this would be the first meeting of the year between these ACC cross-conference foes. In what turns out to be the real ACC title bout between the regular season and conference champions, the Cardinals will prevail in a squeaker.

      End Result: No. 13 LSU & No. 14 North Carolina ELIMINATED

      Second Round
      No. 5 Arkansas vs No. 16 Oregon State

      Winner: No. 5 Arkansas

      Why: Oh you gotta love it. The first game of the second round will be a rematch of the 2018 Finals. Everything that has motivated and inspired the 2019 Arkansas Razorbacks will be right in front of them as they face the team that snatched their national championship from them on the same field! This time around, Arkansas gets their revenge and sends Oregon State to the loser's bracket.

      No. 2 Vanderbilt vs No. 6 Mississippi State

      Winner: No. 6 Mississippi State

      Why: Two of the most complete and well-rounded teams in the tournament of course would be destined to run into each other in the second round in Omaha. Their lone meeting this year came in Hoover during the SEC Tournament Semifinals and saw Vandy win 1-0. It'll be a one-run game again, but this time the Bulldogs walk away with the victory.

      Second Round Elimination Games
      No. 9 Oklahoma State vs No. 16 Oregon State

      Winner: No. 9 Oklahoma State

      Why: In their fifth meeting of the season, the Cowboys kill the dream of a repeat and send Oregon State home as they advance to their second College World Series Semifinals in four years.

      No. 2 Vanderbilt vs No. 7 Louisville

      Winner: No. 2 Vanderbilt

      Why: In another hotly contested game, the Commodores again emerge victorious to reach their first College World Series Semifinals since 2015.

      End Result: No. 7 Louisville & No. 16 Oregon State ELIMINATED

      CWS Semifinals
      No. 5 Arkansas vs No. 9 Oklahoma State

      Winner: No. 5 Arkansas

      Why: Arkansas remains perfect in Omaha and advances to back-to-back College World Series Finals as they need only one semifinal game to dispatch the Pokes.

      No. 2 Vanderbilt vs No. 6 Mississippi State

      Winner: No. 6 Mississippi State

      Why: This game will require a winner-take-all semifinal as Vandy will definitely best Miss State in the rematch. In the rubber match, the Bulldogs will out-slug the Commodores to reach their first College World  Finals since 2013.

      End Result: No. 2 Vanderbilt & No. 9 Oklahoma State ELIMINATED

      CWS Finals
      No. 5 Arkansas vs No. 6 Mississippi State

      Winner: No. 6 Mississippi State

      Why: Mississippi State went into Fayetteville in mid-April and came back licking their wounds as Arkansas swept them and handedly beat the Dawgs in two of the games. Now in Omaha with the final we almost got just a year ago, the Bulldogs will turn the tables and win in three. Jake Mangum will win Most Outstanding Player at the College World Series and Ethan Small will throw a gem in the clincher. I have no doubt that this series will go the distance and be one for the ages.

      Mississippi State will claim their first baseball national championship in school history, while Arkansas will again be looking up in disappointment as the confetti rains down and their opponent dogpiles on the middle of the field.

      National Champion:

      Mississippi State Bulldogs!

      Final Takeaway
      So there you have it. Mississippi State will take home the championship to give the SEC its fifth baseball national title this decade. On the flip side, Arkansas would give the conference its seventh loss in the College World Series Finals. In reality, these numbers would still apply regardless of who won.

      Compared to what I have done in the past, this is definitely one of my more ambitious prediction articles as I have four regional upsets, only two of the top five seeds advancing, and an all-SEC final. However, that is the beauty of college baseball. There is so much wackiness that takes place over the course of these next few weeks that it's nearly impossible to be fully correct. In my opinion, it's even more difficult than picking March Madness.

      Thank you for readership! Stay tuned as I will continue to keep putting out content over the summer break!