Saturday, June 25, 2016

2016 Gator Baseball: A Year In Review

Entering 2016 with the No. 1 ranked recruiting class, the Florida Gator baseball team concluded one of the greatest seasons in school history with a 52-16 (19-10 SEC) record. They advanced to the College World Series for the fifth time in the Kevin O'Sullivan era before being ousted in the first two games.

Prior to the College World Series and the postseason in general, Florida found themselves in the loser's bracket of the SEC Tournament after losing the opening game to LSU in extra innings. From there, Florida cooked up their SEC mojo of past seasons as the Gators defeated Alabama, Mississippi State, and LSU in the semifinals to earn their way to the SEC Championship.

Florida would not defend their SEC title, as the Texas A&M Aggies crushed the Gators 12-5 in the title game. Despite the rout, Florida still earned the No. 1 seed for the second time in school history and cruised through their regional as they defeated Bethune-Cookman, UConn, and Georgia Tech. Of these three, only UConn presented a challenge as the Gators won that game by a score of 6-5. 

In the Gainesville Super Regional, Florida met a familiar opponent in the rival Florida State Seminoles. The Gators had swept the 'Noles in the super regional last year and were looking for that same result this time around.

However, Florida's plans for a sweep got a tad sidetracked when the 'Noles beat Alex Faedo and took Game 1 by a score of 3-0. Now with their backs against the wall, Florida would need to revive their offense to keep their incredible season alive.

The Gators answered the call. Logan Shore threw a gem in Game 2 as Florida won 5-0 and JJ Schwarz smacked a grand slam in the winner-take-all game as the Gators prevailed 7-0 and were once again on their way to Omaha at Florida State's expense.

In Omaha, the Gator offense disappeared. Playing the underdog Coastal Carolina Chanticleers, Florida lost their opening game 2-1 as Logan Shore received no run support. In the elimination game, Alex Faedo threw extremely well but received no run support either as Florida trailed 3-0 entering the bottom of the ninth.

Peter Alonso hit a two-run homer in his final collegiate at-bat to trim the lead to 3-2, but Florida's season would reach its heartbreaking conclusion as Jonathan India was thrown out at second base trying to extend a single into a double.

Despite becoming the third No. 1 overall seed to be eliminated from the College World Series in just two games (it happened to Florida before in 2012 and Arizona State in 2010), Florida has nothing to hang their heads over in 2016.

They accomplished many fantastic feats this past season! Some of which include:

  • Winning 10 of 13 three-game weekend series (six of them coming via sweep)
  • Defeating nine teams from the state of Florida (the only D-1 Floridian schools that the Gators did not face this season were FIU, Florida A&M, Jacksonville State, and Stetson)
  • Posting a record of 34-5 at McKethan Stadium, which featured a 29-game home winning streak that dated back to the 2015 season
  • Going 14-0 in midweek games
  • Winning 17 straight games from the end of February to the last week of March
  • Appearing in their third straight SEC Championship game
  • Recording the second highest amount of wins (52) in school history for the second consecutive year
  • Recording the highest amount of regular season wins (44) ever in school history
  • Defeating eight teams ranked in the final Baseball Top 25 polls
  • Having eight players selected in the 2016 MLB Draft
  • Sweeping Florida State in the three games scattered throughout the regular season and coming back to defeat them in the Gainesville Super Regional for the second straight year
  • Reaching the College World Series for the 10th time in school history and representing their conference well as the ONLY SEC team to advance to Omaha
  • Being ranked in the Top-5 for the entire year

Of course, this team was only as good as the players who suited up and took the field. Let's now take a look at some of the individual accolades that various players on this Gator squad earned this season:

  • ABCA/Rawlings First Team All-Americans
    • P - Logan Shore (Junior)
  • ABCA/Rawlings Second Team All-Americans
  • Louisville Slugger First Team All-Americans
    • P - Logan Shore
  • Louisville Slugger Second Team All-Americans
    • RP - Shaun Anderson
  • Louisville Slugger Freshman All-Americans
    • 3B - Jonathan India
  • ABCA/Rawlings South All-Region First Team
    • 1B - Peter Alonso
    • P - Logan Shore
    • RP - Shaun Anderson
  • ABCA/Rawlings South All-Region Second Team
  • SEC Pitcher of the Year
    • P - Logan Shore
  • First Team All-SEC
    • P - Logan Shore
    • RP - Shaun Anderson
  • Second Team All-SEC
    • C - Mike Rivera (Sophomore)
    • 1B - Peter Alonso
    • SS - Dalton Guthrie
  • Freshman All-SEC Team
  • SEC All-Defensive Team
    • C - Mike Rivera
    • SS - Dalton Guthrie
    • OF - Buddy Reed (Junior)
  • School Records
    • Shaun Anderson - 13 saves (tied Josh Fogg's mark set in 1998)
    • Shaun Anderson - 0.97 ERA (surpasses Taylor Lewis's mark of 1.33 in 2015)
    • Alex Faedo - Nine strikeouts in a single-game in the College World Series vs Texas Tech
    • Logan Shore - Won his 13th consecutive decision (surpassing Russ Kibler's mark of 12) in a 6-0 shutout win over the Georgia Bulldogs

MLB Draft Selections
  • A.J. Puk (Junior): 1st Round (6th overall) to the Oakland Athletics, pitcher
  • Dane Dunning (Junior): 1st Round (29th overall) to the Washington Nationals, pitcher
  • Logan Shore (Junior): 2nd Round (47th overall) to the Oakland Athletics, pitcher
  • Buddy Reed (Junior): 2nd Round (48th overall) to the San Diego Padres, outfielder
  • Peter Alonso (Junior): 2nd Round (64th overall) to the New York Mets, first base
  • Shaun Anderson (Junior): 3rd Round (88th overall) to the Boston Red Sox, pitcher
  • Scott Moss (Sophomore): 4th Round (108th overall) to the Cincinnati Reds, pitcher
  • Kirby Snead (Junior): 10th Round (312th overall) to the Toronto Blue Jays, pitcher

Of these eight, I would say only Scott Moss and Kirby Snead might have a viable chance of returning for their respective junior and senior years. I don't see this being the case, however, as junior pitchers Mike Vinson and Aaron Rhodes of the 2015 squad both left Florida after being taken in the 24th and 28th rounds respectively. Considering that both Moss and Snead were chosen in the first ten rounds, I would not be surprised if they both left for the pros.

Now that I have acknowledged the award winners and MLB draftees, it's time to take one final look at the stat leaders for the 2016 campaign:


Hits: Dalton Guthrie (85)

Doubles: Peter Alonso (18)

Triples: Buddy Reed (6)

Home Runs: Peter Alonso (14)

RBI’s: Peter Alonso/JJ Schwarz (60)

Batting Average: Peter Alonso (.374)

Slugging Percentage: Peter Alonso (.659)

On Base Percentage: Peter Alonso (.469)

Stolen Bases: Buddy Reed (24)

Runs Scored: Buddy Reed (57)

Strikeouts: Buddy Reed (62)

Walks: JJ Schwarz (45)

Sacrifice Flys: Dalton Guthrie/JJ Schwarz (6)

Sacrifice Bunts: Buddy Reed/Mike Rivera (5)

At-Bats: Dalton Guthrie (279)


Assists: Dalton Guthrie (183)

Putouts: Peter Alonso (493)

Errors: Jonathan India (12)

Fielding Percentage: Nelson Maldonado/Nick Horvath (.1000) (Freshman/Sophomore)


Wins: Alex Faedo (13)

Losses: Alex Faedo/A.J. Puk/Dane Dunning (3)

Strikeouts: Alex Faedo (133)

Starting Pitcher ERA: Logan Shore (2.31)

Relieving Pitcher ERA: Shaun Anderson (0.97)

Shutouts: Logan Shore (2)

Saves: Shaun Anderson (13)

Appearances: Shaun Anderson (36)

Innings Pitched: Logan Shore (105.1)

Hit By Pitch: Alex Faedo (11)

Balks: A.J. Puk (1)

Final Takeaway:
Before giving my final thoughts, here are my Top 10 Gator games of the 2016 season:

  1. Logan Shore shuts out Miami - 2/26
  2. Florida hits two ninth inning home runs to defeat South Carolina - 5/29
  3. JJ Schwarz hits a grand slam to put away Florida State in Game 3 of super regionals - 6/13
  4. Facing elimination, Logan Shore throws eight shutout innings vs FSU in super regionals - 6/12
  5. Alex Faedo dominates Harvard as he K's 13 batters - 3/12
  6. Logan Shore throws a complete game vs Vanderbilt - 5/13
  7. Buddy Reed hits a walk off home run against Dartmouth in extra innings - 3/5
  8. Florida nearly no-hits Miami - 2/29
  9. Shore shuts out Georgia to win a school-record 13th consecutive decision - 4/23
  10. LSU defeats Florida in the longest SEC tournament game ever played - 5/25

Alright my listing is done for the remainder of the article. So you've now seen the statistics and awards for what has been one of my favorite seasons of Gator baseball. Without a National Championship though, what does 2016 really mean in the greater context of Gator baseball?

What it means is this: the 2016 Florida Gator baseball team has now established itself within the ranks of Kevin O'Sullivan's 2015, 2012, 2011, and 2010 squads. This year's team was historically good with their 44 regular season wins, but yet was unable to win either the SEC regular season or tournament titles.

The SEC is arguably the best conference in college baseball though, so I can give Florida a pass on not winning it all. Not to mention that SEC regular season champion Mississippi State and SEC Tournament champion Texas A&M both failed to get past super regionals that they were hosting. In fact, of the seven SEC teams invited to the tournament, only Florida made it to the College World Series (as I pointed out earlier in the article).

This Florida Gator team will always be special to me. In my last spring semester as a student, I had an absolute blast following this team and even conversing with some of the players who I happened to run into on campus. A brief stint in Omaha is disappointing, but it doesn't take away from an amazing 2016 Gator baseball season.

As eight Gators prepare to take the next step into the minor leagues, the 2017 road to Omaha has already begun. Florida will have two seniors, my boy Frank Rubio and Ryan Larson, accompanied by eight juniors, potentially 11 sophomores, and another outstanding freshmen class from Sully.

Florida has some holes to fill. For instance, who is going to man center field now? Who's going to hold it down at first base? Which guys are going to complement Alex Faedo in the starting rotation? Who is going to come in and slam the door in the ninth inning of a one-run game?

Fortunately, all of these questions can be answered with the insertion of someone already on the roster or in Sully's 2017 recruiting class. I won't worry about Florida's position needs now. I'll save that for another article at another time.

2016 was a great ride for Florida Gator baseball. I am both blessed and happy that I was able to cover this season as extensively as I did. It's something I will truly never forget as long as I live.

Go Gators! Thank you for another wonderful baseball season!

*All stats accredited to,,, &



Wednesday, June 22, 2016

2016 College World Series: Florida's Season is Over

Yet again, another Gator baseball season has concluded without a National Championship as No. 1 Florida (52-16) lost to the No. 5 Texas Tech Red Raiders (47-19) by a score of 3-2 yesterday.

In his final start as a sophomore, Alex Faedo (13-3, 3.18 ERA) threw about as well as any Gator fan could have wanted. He tossed 7.2 innings, allowed two earned runs on seven scattered hits, walked none, and struck out nine Red Raiders on 107 pitches.

Faedo's one mistake came in the top of the fourth inning. With two outs and a man on third base, he gave up a two-run bomb to Big 12 Player of the Year Eric Gutierrez. After the homer, Faedo proceeded to retire eight straight batters before Gutierrez tagged him for a single in the seventh inning.

After Faedo's departure, Scott Moss came in with two outs in the eighth inning. Needing eight pitches, the sophomore lefty induced a ground ball to end the Tech threat.

In the ninth, Dane Dunning came in for what would be his final collegiate appearance. Tech hit nothing but ground balls off of Dunning, yet somehow was able to up their lead to 3-0. Their only hit off of him came via a swinging bunt that was right down the third base line to start the inning.

After Florida failed to turn a double play on another grounder, Tech had a man on first base with one out. What followed is something that has been engrained in my memory probably forever.

A grounder was hit to third baseman Jonathan India. The freshman was behind the bag when he fielded it, so he had no choice but to go to first with the throw. Rearing back, India fired a rocket to Peter Alonso that short hopped and ricocheted off the extending first baseman's mitt.

Seeing this, Tech runner Tyler Neslony took off towards third base. Alonso saw him the whole way and left his feet as he made a hasty throw back to India. Alonso's throw skipped past the Gator third baseman and Neslony came in to score a crucial insurance run for Tech. Who hit the ball that started this fiasco? Eric Gutierrez of course.

After the errors from India and Alonso, Faedo hit a batter and Florida failed to turn yet another double play before the inning ended with a groundout to second baseman Deacon Liput. Dunning's last college outing was indeed a chaotic one.

Offensively, Florida squandered their chances in this game.

Don't let a 3-2 score fool you. For seven innings, the Gators had no response to Tech starter Davis Martin (10-1, 2.52 ERA). The freshman was phenomenal as he tossed seven shutout innings of three-hit ball, fanned three Gators, and walked three.

Florida had three legitimate chances to score off of Davis in this game.

In the bottom of the first with a runner on first base and two outs, JJ Schwarz hit a shot to left center field. It had the potential to be a home run, but was definitely going to be extra bases if it landed. Sadly, it never touched down as Tech center fielder Tanner Gardner made a sensational grab and banged into the wall to end the inning.

The play was eerily similar to the catch that Buddy Reed did not make as Coastal Carolina plated what would be the inevitable game-winning run in the College World Series opener.

In the bottom of the fourth, the Gators had runners on first and second before Danny Reyes grounded into an inning-ending double play. Their next opportunity would come a couple innings later in the bottom of the sixth.

With the score 2-0, Jeremy Vasquez led off the inning with a pinch-hit single from the nine-hole. Next, leadoff man Dalton Guthrie drew a walk to set up first and second with nobody out. Looking to avoid another double play, Florida head coach Kevin O'Sullivan had Buddy Reed sacrifice bunt to move the runners over. It worked. Now it was one out with runners in scoring position and the big bat of Peter Alonso coming up.

Tech would have none of it. They intentionally walked Alonso to get to clean-up hitter JJ Schwarz. This was not an unfamiliar spot for the sophomore, as he hit one of the biggest home runs in program history with the bases loaded in super regionals.

The count quickly went to 3-0, and Florida was on the cusp of ending the shutout. A taken pitch and big hack later, it was 3-2. With the crowed on pins and needles, Davis delivered and JJ... grounded right back to the pitcher.

Davis fielded the come backer and threw to Tech catcher Tyler Floyd for the force out at home. Floyd then threw to first base for the final out. However, Floyd's throw was errant and sailed past the first baseman down the right field foul line.

It looked like Florida would at the very least score a run if not tie the game! But this was all for not. The umps ruled that it was runner's inference on JJ for running out of the base path. The inning was over and a huge scoring opportunity had been lost.

Florida would not make anymore offensive noise until the final frame against Tech closer Hayden Howard. Leading off the inning, Buddy Reed collected his final collegiate hit as he singled to lead off the ninth. Then, on a 2-2 count, Peter Alonso blasted a 425-foot dinger to left field and cut the lead to 3-2. It was his 14th homer of the season and his second hit of the contest in three at-bats.

With a little bit of life, Florida needed to string together just a couple more hits to force extras and save the season!

Next up was JJ Schwarz, who followed up his bases-loaded groundout with a four-pitch strikeout. Sophomore catcher Mike Rivera was next, and he popped up to second base on a 2-2 count. Now down their final out, Florida's hope rested in Jonathan India.

Down 0-2 in the count, India took a ball and fouled off two pitches before roping a hit into left field. It took some time for Tech's left fielder Tyler Neslony to get the ball, so India tried to get into scoring position and take second base.

Unfortunately for India and Florida, Nelsony made an incredible throw and gunned out India to end the game and Florida's season. Fittingly enough, both the players involved with the game's decisive scoring play took part in the game's final out.

Final Takeaway:
For a student/fan who has been following the Gators closely since Opening Night, went to 23 games (one being on the road against Miami), watched nearly every game on TV or my computer, and has served as this team's unofficial beat writer, this is a real disappointing end to a great season.

Before I elaborate more on this season, here are my final tidbits on the Texas Tech game and the College World Series as a whole:

  • Peter Alonso, Buddy Reed, Jeremy Vasquez, and Jonathan India conclude the College World Series as the only Gators to record a hit in both games.
  • This is the fourth time in school history (1998, 2010, 2012), that Florida has gone 0-2 in Omaha.
  • This is the second time in school history (2012) that Florida has earned the No. 1 overall seed and failed to win a single game in Omaha. 
  • As a team, Florida went 13-61 (.213) with three walks and 11 strikeouts in the CWS. The Gators left eight total men on base between both games.
  • Florida was just one victory away from tying the single-season school record (53). The team's 16 losses are the fewest ever among all 10 of the Gator teams that have made it to the CWS.
  • This is the first time in his college career that Alex Faedo has lost back-to-back starts.
  • Speaking of Alex Faedo, he now holds the school record for strikeouts in a single CWS game after his 9 K effort against Texas Tech. 
  • Both of Jeremy Vasquez's base knocks in the CWS were pinch-hit singles.
  • Florida continues to make it into teams' record books as their loss today was Texas Tech's first ever CWS victory. Keep in mind they were Coastal Carolina's first CWS win as well.

This feeling is all too familiar for Gator fans like myself. In 2011, Florida had an incredible team that finished runner-up in the College World Series. The next year in 2012, everybody in the country expected the Gators to win it all hands down. Florida received the No. 1 overall seed and was out of Omaha in two games.

History has indeed repeated itself. Florida was a win away from playing for a National Championship in 2015, came back even better in 2016, got the No. 1 overall seed, and was out of Omaha in two games.

I could not be more proud and disappointed in this team at the same time. They had the makeup of a championship-caliber squad, but just couldn't put it all together when it mattered the most. The best pitching staff in America, eight MLB draft picks, and a top-ranked recruiting class still wasn't enough to push Florida over the top.

In the upcoming weeks, I will be writing my final recap of the 2016 Florida Gator baseball season. This will be one of my final articles about the baseball team as I prepare to dedicate more time to studying for the LSAT I will be taking in September.

The ending to the 2016 campaign wasn't pretty, but it was a great ride throughout the entire season. I am proud of my Gator boys. This will truly be a season I will never forget.

Oh yeah, almost forgot. As for No. 5 Texas Tech, they will be taking on Coastal Carolina (50-17) in another elimination game for the right to play TCU (49-16) in the semifinals. Game time is at 8 p.m. on June 23rd and it can be seen on ESPN2.

*All stats accredited to

Monday, June 20, 2016

2016 College World Series: Coastal Carolina Upsets #1 Florida

The No. 1 Florida Gators (52-15) are now one loss away from elimination after losing 2-1 to the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (50-16) in the opening round of the College World Series.

Despite attacking the Chanticleers with ace pitcher Logan Shore (12-1, 2.31 ERA), the Gators ran into trouble as Coastal plated runs in the third and sixth innings. Both runs were charged to Shore as he scattered five hits across five innings, fanned seven Chants, walked two, and threw 84 pitches in his first loss of 2016.

Every hit that Shore allowed in the game was for extra bases. Two of them came off the bat of Chanticleer third baseman Zach Remillard. Doubling and tripling off of Florida's ace, Remillard finished 2-4 while driving in both of the Chants' runs in the contest.

After Remillard's triple in the top of the sixth with no outs, Shore was pulled from the game. From there, things got a little more chaotic as Florida tapped into their bullpen. With a runner on third, lefty specialist Kirby Snead entered in the sixth inning and threw just one pitch as he plunked designated hitter G.K. Young in the back.

After Snead's second hit batsman of the season, Dane Dunning came in and reestablished a sense of order. He induced a ground ball and caught Chanticleer third baseman Zach Remillard in a rundown between third and home. After a brief pickle, Remillard was out and Coastal had runners on first and second.

After striking out second baseman Tyler Chadwick, the first round draft pick ended the inning in dramatic fashion when he picked off G.K. Young at second base. It was a well executed trick play as Dunning was not on the mound and acted as if he was recomposing himself. While this was happening, Young unknowingly strayed too far off the bag and Dunning turned around and fired a bullet right to shortstop Dalton Guthrie for the third out.

Dunning threw the most of any Gator reliever tonight as he went 2.2 innings, allowed no runs on three hits, and struck out three. After Dunning's brilliant performance ended with him hitting a batter, Kevin O'Sullivan surprised us all and went with A.J. Puk for relief in the top of the eighth inning. This was the first time Puk made an appearance out of the bullpen since April 21, 2015, against Bethune-Cookman.

The shock and awe of the sixth overall pick's arrival into the game would wear off instantly, as he nailed Tyler Chadwick in the head on the fourth pitch of the at-bat. Thankfully, Chadwick was fine after taking 97 miles per hour to the dome. After nearly killing a man, Puk was out of the game after one batter and closer Shaun Anderson was called upon to hold off another potential Chanticleer rally.

With the bases loaded and two outs, Anderson induced an inning-ending ground ball to keep the deficit at 2-1. As always, Shaun was on point. In 1.1 innings, he allowed no runs on just one hit with two strikeouts.

Offensively, Florida had seven hits in the game and plated their only run in the fifth inning. The Gators' temporary tying run came when Deacon Liput doubled with one out and scored on an RBI single from pinch hitter Jeremy Vasquez. Liput's double was the only extra base hit of the game for Florida. No Gator had more than one hit.

Despite Florida's anemic offensive performance, a bunch of credit needs to be given to Coastal's ace Andrew Beckwith (13-1, 2.02 ERA). Switching between both over-the-top and submarine angles in his pitching delivery, the Chants' junior was unhittable as he threw his first complete game of the season on 98 pitches.

He struck out seven Gators and produced 15 ground ball outs. I can't help but tip my hat off to Beckwith for his incredible performance on the biggest of stages against the No. 1 team in the country.

Final Takeaway:
Needless to say I am shocked at tonight's result. I thought Florida would handle Coastal Carolina with ease, but boy was I wrong. Before previewing the Gators' elimination game, here are my final tidbits on tonight's opening round loss:

  • The first replay review in College World Series history occurred in the top of the third inning when a foul ball call on a Zach Remillard hit down the line was overturned and ruled a fair ball. The result was a Remillard double and Coastal's first run of the ball game. In all honesty the Chants deserved to have two runs score on the play, but this misjudgment from the umpires would not hurt Coastal in the long run.
  • This was Logan Shore's first losing decision since May 24, 2015, when the Auburn Tigers defeated him at the Mac. He had won 17 straight decisions prior to tonight.
  • A majority of the hits off of Shore were indeed well hit, but bad positioning played a role. The outfield got burned twice (with Buddy Reed making a rare mistimed jump at the wall), Ryan Larson ran back on a fly ball that was 40 feet in front of him, and Coastal did a good job at putting balls down the right field and left field lines for extra base knocks.
  • The Gators grounded into two double plays tonight.
  • This is the sixth time in school history that Florida has lost their opening round game in the College World Series. In elimination games immediately following a first round loss, Florida boasts a 2-3 record.
  • This is Coastal Carolina's first College World Series victory in school history.
  • Since the eight national seeds were established in 1999, the 12 No. 1 overall seeds who have made it to Omaha have a record of 7-5 in the first round. Florida is the only No. 1 seed to lose in the first round twice with the first instance occurring in the 2012 College World Series.
  • With Florida's loss, they become the final of Omaha's three national seeds to enter the loser's bracket.

As I have just explained in the tidbits, Florida's fortunes usually do not bode well when they drop the first game in Omaha. As it stands right now, Florida would have to win four straight elimination games just to get to the College World Series Finals!

I know that in the past two seasons Florida has gone into the loser's bracket of the SEC Tournament and made it to the title game, but the College World Series is completely different. Unlike the SEC Tourney, Florida will have to beat Coastal Carolina/TCU twice to get to the National Championship. 

The format of the College World Series is done right with the fact that it does not create a one game semifinal that ignores the undefeated record of the team in the winner's bracket. I agree with Omaha's bracket setup 100%, but it sure provides a deep hole for the Gators to climb out of.

The last team to enter the loser's bracket and win the College World Series was South Carolina in 2010. If Florida can rekindle some of South Carolina's magic from six years ago, then they may have a shot to cap off what has already been an incredible season with a National Championship.

It won't be easy, but it's doable. This team is resilient, having fought through the loser's bracket of the SEC Tournament to reach the title game and overcoming a 1-0 series deficit to the Florida State Seminoles in super regionals.

Tuesdays' elimination game will be a battle of national seeds as the No. 1 Florida Gators put their season on the line against the No. 5 Texas Tech Red Raiders (46-19). Tech lost a heartbreaker of their own, as TCU (48-16) used a three-run homer with one out in the top of the ninth inning to erase the Red Raiders' 3-2 lead and win the game 5-3.

Florida will most likely go with sophomore right-hander Alex Faedo (13-2, 3.25 ERA) to keep their season alive, while Texas Tech will probably counter with freshman right-hander Davis Martin (9-1, 2.73 ERA) as they seek to extend their season as well.

Game time for the elimination bout is at 5 p.m. on June 21st. It can be seen on ESPN2. Hopefully the Gators' bats wake up. Their season is depending on it.

*All stats accredited to &



Friday, June 17, 2016

2016 Gator Softball: A Year In Review

The Florida Gator softball team entered 2016 as the odds-on favorite to win a third straight national championship. Unfortunately, a 56-7 (20-4 SEC) overall record would not cut it for the Gators as the rival Georgia Bulldogs swept them in the Gainesville Super Regional.

Following the formula of past championship seasons, the Gators did not win the SEC Tournament as Auburn bounced them in the semifinals. Once regional play began, Florida obliterated their opponents by a combined score of 24-0 to set up what looked like a very winnable matchup against the Georgia Bulldogs in super regionals.

However, the Gators were not themselves in super regional play as they mustered a total of just eight hits and three runs in two games. After Georgia blanked Florida by a score of 3-0 in Game 1, it looked like the the Gators would force a winner-take-all contest with a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the seventh inning.

With two outs and a runner on first, Gator sophomore Aleshia Ocasio was one strike away from extending the super regional. Georgia had other plans though. With the count 0-2, Bulldog pinch hitter Kaylee Puailoa crushed Ocasio's offering over the center field fence for a walk-off two run bomb. 

The two-time defending National Champions had been eliminated and Georgia was on their way to the third Women's College World Series appearance in program history. This was perhaps one of the most shocking Gator losses I had ever seen in my time here at the university.

For the first time in school history, Florida had lost a super regional at home. They had previously been 14-1 in Gainesville Super Regionals prior to the 2016 season. In addition, they became the second No. 1 overall seed in history to not reach the Women's College World Series.

In spite of a heartbreaking finish to this season, the Gators accomplished much as a team in 2016! Some of these feats include: 

  • SEC Regular Season Champions for the sixth time in program history and second consecutive season
  • A 25-0 start to the season
  • 31 victories via shutout 
  • A 22-2 record at home (excluding the postseason)
  • Eight series victories (Auburn, Tennessee, LSU, Ole Miss, UL-Lafayette, Mississippi State, Texas A&M, Arkansas), six of which were sweeps
  • All seven of their losses were to SEC opponents (Auburn twice, Alabama twice, Texas A&M Georgia twice)
  • Lost consecutive games just once the whole year (unfortunatley it came during super regionals)
  • A season series sweep of rival Florida State for the second straight season (1-0 & 7-1)
  • Defeated 11 teams ranked in the final Softball Top 25 polls
  • Lost less than 10 games for the fifth time in program history
  • Resided in the No. 1 spot of the polls for most of the season before finish with the final ranking of No. 8

Now that I have listed the team's success, let's take a look at some of the individual players who garnered some accolades:
  • NFCA First Team All-Americans
  • NFCA Southeast All-Region First Team
  • SEC Freshman of the Year
    • OF - Amanda Lorenz
  • First Team All-SEC
    • P – Delanie Gourley
    • P – Aleshia Ocasio
    • OF – Amanda Lorenz
    • DP/UT - Kayli Kvistad
  • Freshman All-SEC Team
    • P – Kelly Barnhill
    • OF – Amanda Lorenz
  • SEC All-Defensive Team
    • C - Aubree Munro

With the award winners listed, let's take look at the final stat leaders for 2016:


Hits: Amanda Lorenz (73)

Doubles: Amanda Lorenz (14)

Triples: Kelsey Stewart/Janell Wheaton (2) (Senior/Sophomore)

Home Runs: Kayli Kvistad (11)

RBI’s: Kayli Kvistad (60)

Batting Average: Amanda Lorenz (.403)

Slugging Percentage: Kayli Kvistad (.637)

On Base Percentage: Amanda Lorenz (.528)

Stolen Bases: Kelsey Stewart (15)

Runs Scored: Kelsey Stewart (58)

Strikeouts: Taylore Fuller (39) (Senior)

Walks: Amanda Lorenz (48)

Hit By Pitch: Nicole DeWitt (19)

Sacrifice Flys: Kayli Kvistad (4)

Sacrifice Bunts: Taylore Fuller (7)

At-Bats: Kelsey Stewart (211)


Assists: Nicole DeWitt (86)

Putouts: Aubree Munro (457)

Errors: Kelsey Stewart (11)

Fielding Percentage: Janell Wheaton/Kirsti Merritt/Amanda Lorenz/Justine McLean/Aleshia Ocasio (1.000) (McLean is a junior)


Wins: Aleshia Ocasio (22)

Losses: Delanie Gourley (4)

Strikeouts: Delanie Gourley (224)

ERA: Aleshia Ocasio (0.77)

Complete Games: Delanie Gourley (13)

Saves: Aleshia Ocasio (6)

Appearances: Delanie Gourley/Aleshia Ocasio (35)

Innings Pitched: Delanie Gourley (157.2)

Final Takeaway:
2016 featured one of the tougher season-ending losses with a walk-off loss in Gainesville. Although Florida did not become the second team in NCAA history to pull off a three-peat, there still is a special place in the record books for this Gator softball team.

Florida has the most softball national championships among any SEC school and is the only non-Pac-12 team to win back-to-back titles (UCLA and Arizona have repeated as national champions on many occasions).

It can be argued that Texas A&M is tied with Florida as they have two titles as well. However, the Aggies won both those titles as a member of the Southwest Conference. So keeping that in mind, Florida is the league leader with two national titles while Alabama sits behind them with one.

Florida head coach Tim Walton's journey for his third National Championship in four years will be a difficult one as five of his seniors will be graduating. They are Aubree Munro, Kelsey Stewart, Taylore Fuller, Kirsti Merritt, and Taylor Schwarz. I'll elaborate on each one.

Aubree Munro

Playing all four years behind the dish, Aubree concludes her collegiate career with a slash line of .251/.350/.386, 104 hits, 55 runs scored, 8 home runs, 73 RBI’s, four stolen bases, and a .997 fielding percentage. Her career accolades include: 

  • 2016 NFCA Southeast All-Region First Team
  • 2016 All-SEC Second Team
  • 2016 SEC All-Defensive Team
        • 2016 USA Softball National Team
        • 2015 NFCA All-American
        • 2015, 2014, & 2013 SEC Academic Honor Roll
        • 2015 & 2014 National Champion
        • 2015 & 2014 WCWS All-Tournament Teams
        • 2013 SEC Tournament Champion

        The road doesn't end here for Aubree though. She was recently selected by the USSSA Pride in the sixth and final round of the 2016 National Pro Fastpitch Draft. She was the second-to-last pick!

        Kelsey Stewart

        Instantly contributing from her freshman year forward as a middle infielder, Kelsey finishes her collegiate career with a slash line of .395/.460/.565, 355 hits, 257 runs scored, 15 home runs, 145 RBI’s, 113 stolen bases and a .963 fielding percentage. Her career accolades include:

        • 2015 SEC Player of the Year
        • 2015 & 2014 NFCA First Team All-American
        • 2015, 2014, & 2013 NFCA All-Southeast Region Second Team
        • 2015 & 2014 National Champion
        • 2015 & 2014 WCWS All-Tournament Team
        • 2015 & 2014 All-SEC First Team
        • 2015 & 2014 SEC All-Defensive Team
        • 2013 SEC Tournament Champion
        • 2013 NFCA All-Southeast Region Second Team
        • 2013 All-SEC Second Team
        • 2013 SEC All-Freshman Team
        • 2013 SEC All-Tournament Team

        Kelsey will also be continuing her playing career and will be reunited with Aubree, as she was selected by the USSSA Pride in the second round of the 2016 National Pro Fastpitch Draft. Among her draft class, Kelsey was the highest Gator selected!

        Taylore Fuller

        Seeing much of the field since her freshman campaign as a utility player, Taylore finishes her collegiate career with a slash line of .244/.399/.477, 126 hits, 127 runs scored, 36 home runs, 141 RBI’s, 24 stolen bases, and a .980 fielding percentage. Her career accolades include:

        • 2015 SEC Academic Honor Roll
        • 2015 & 2014 National Champion
        • 2013 SEC Tournament Champion
        • Eight career grand slams, which is the third most in NCAA history and second most in Florida Gator history.

        Like her two teammates before her, Taylore will be continuing her softball career as she was selected in the sixth round of the 2016 National Pro Fastpitch Draft by the Scrap Yard Dawgs.

        Kirsti Merritt

        Seeing substantial playing time as an outfielder from the moment she stepped on campus, Kirsti finishes her Gator tenure with a slash line of .308/.464/.534, 205 hits, 206 runs scored, 36 home runs, 170 RBI’s, 72 stolen bases, and a .984 fielding percentage. Her career accolades include:

        • 2016 All-SEC Second Team
          • 2015 NFCA All-Southeast Region First Team
          • 2015 All-SEC First Team
          • 2015 & 2014 National Champion
          • 2015, 2014, & 2013 SEC Academic Honor Roll
          • 2014 NFCA All-Southeast Region Third Team
          • 2014 WCWS All-Tournament Team
          • 2013 SEC Tournament Champion
          • 2013 SEC Tournament MVP
          • 2013 SEC All-Tournament Team
          • 2013 SEC All-Freshman Team
          • A top-10 diving catch in the clinching game of the 2014 Women's College World Series

          Kirsti will be rejoining both Aubree and Kelsey as she as was selected by the USSSA Pride in the fourth round of the 2016 National Pro Fastpitch Draft.

          Taylor Schwarz

          Rounding out the senior class, Taylor slowly began to see less and less starts as her senior year wound down. Nonetheless, the Gator first baseman finished her career with a slash line of .252/.402/.423, 121 hits, 115 runs scored, 21 home runs, 103 RBI’s, 18 RBI's, and a .991 fielding percentage. Her career accolades include:

          • 2015 NFCA All-American
          • 2015 & 2014 National Champion
          • 2015, 2014, & 2013 SEC Academic Honor Roll
          • 2014 NFCA All-Southeast Region Second Team
          • 2014 SEC All-Defensive Team
          • 2013 SEC Tournament Champion
          • 2013 SEC All-Tournament Team

          Taylor was the only member of this senior class to not be drafted into the National Pro Fastpitch League. I don't think she is too concerned, however, as her telecommunications degree has paved her a great career path in sports reporting.


          With the departure of these five seniors, Tim Walton's squad will have big shoes to fill. Fortunately this time around, Florida is not losing any of their pitchers as Delanie Gourley, Aleshia Ocasio, and Kelly Barnhill will all be back.

          The 2017 Florida Gator softball team will boast three seniors, four juniors, seven sophomores, and however many freshmen Tim Walton recruits. The championship hangover effect finally reached this team on the three-peat attempt, so it's back to the drawing board for next year.

          The Gators will be a great team next season. The Georgia loss served as a humble reminder that no team is entitled no matter how much they have won or how good they are. Overconfidence is what unraveled the Gators in 2016, and it won't be the last time that a sports team suffers because of this same illusion.

          Nevertheless, 2016 was still a great season for the Orange and Blue. If they crank down their confidence a few notches and continue to play with the fire and intensity that Coach Walton demands, then they will be dog-piling in Oklahoma City again in no time!

          Go Gators!

          *All stats and info accredited to,, &
          *Photo Credits:,, &

          Tuesday, June 14, 2016

          UF Baseball: The Florida Gators Are Going Back to Omaha!!!

          For the second straight year, the No. 1 Florida Gators (52-14) are going back to the College World Series!

          In a complete rout, the Gators posted their second consecutive shutout as they blanked the Florida State Seminoles (41-22) by a score of 7-0. The drafted trio of A.J. Puk, Dane Dunning, and Shaun Anderson all combined for this amazing feat.

          Making his biggest start of the season, A.J. Puk (2-3, 3.05 ERA) did his job tonight. Throwing 84 pitches in 3.2 innings, the sixth overall pick allowed no runs and yielded just one hit as he struck out six, walked six, and hit a batter. It was by no means as pretty start, but it was a good enough effort to keep the Gators in front as Puk departed with a 2-0 lead. It would be his fourth no-decision in a row.

          Once Puk exited the mound for the final time in Gainesville, Dane Dunning took over and ate up some serious innings as he mowed down FSU's lineup. Allowing only four hits, the 29th overall pick pitched 4.1 fantastic innings of relief while striking out five. Dunning's incredible 67-pitch effort would earn him his sixth win of the season.

          In the ninth, who else but Shaun Anderson came in to put FSU away for good. Not even breaking a sweat, the 88th overall pick sandwiched a fly out between a pair of strikeouts to punch Florida's 10th trip to Omaha!

          Offensively, the Gator lineup once again put it on the 'Noles as they banged out 13 hits and scored in the first, third, fifth, and sixth innings. Five Gators had two or more hits tonight!

          First was Dalton Guthrie. The sophomore shortstop played like a man possessed today. He went 3-4 with two runs scored out of the leadoff spot and single-handedly manufactured the game's first run via aggressive base running.

          Guthrie put the early pressure on FSU when he went from first to third on a booted ball that got away from shortstop Taylor Walls. Then with two outs, he took home plate on a dirt ball that bounced about six feet away from catcher Cal Raleigh to make it 1-0 Gators in the first frame.

          Behind Guthrie, Buddy Reed found himself back in the two-hole for the first time since the UConn game. Needless to say, the 48th overall pick delivered as went 2-5 with two runs scored in his final game at the Mac.

          Of course, this isn't a Gator baseball article without mentioning Peter Alonso. Also playing in his final home game, Alonso electrified the crowd when he crushed a 2-1 pitch over the left field wall with two outs in the third inning to boost the Gator lead to 2-0. It was his team-leading 13th long ball of the season.

          Out of the three-hole, the junior first baseman finished the night 2-4 with two runs scored and a hit by pitch. The plunking of Alonso with two runners on in the fifth inning, which may have had something to do with the home run in his prior at-bat, would spell the end for FSU.

          With the bases now loaded and no outs, the dangerous JJ Schwarz strode to the plate. After taking a ball in the dirt for ball one, JJ crushed the next pitch completely over the left field seats for a GRAND SLAM! The game had been broken open! It was now 6-0 Florida!

          Words cannot describe the pandemonium that ensued in the Mac. I went absolutely ballistic! If you ask any of my friends, my reaction was that of a little kid as I hugged people and jumped what felt like 20 feet in the air!

          JJ Schwarz settles in the box just moments before he hits one of the biggest home runs in Florida Gator history.

          It's been a while since I have went this nuts at a sporting event. Yes, Gator football has its moments, but a grand slam against FSU in Game 3 of Super Regionals... that's priceless. What I had just witnessed was one of those "moments" in the Florida/Florida State rivalry. There's the "Choke at Doak" and "Greatest Game Ever Played in the Swamp" for football, the Kurtz tip-in for basketball, and now the JJ Schwarz grand slam for baseball.

          I even said to my friend Jon Shuba before the at-bat, "We need to see a Bautista home run here." Of course, I was alluding to Jose Bautista's clutch three-run bomb in the bottom of the seventh inning in Game 5 of the 2016 American League Division Series that put the Blue Jays up 6-3.

          My celebratory rant aside, JJ also hit an RBI double in the sixth inning as he finished 2-4 with five RBI's, a run scored, and a walk. This is JJ's highest RBI total in a game since the SEC Tournament where he plated in four runs against Mississippi State on May 27th.

          Rounding out the multi-hit club, Jonathan India helped boost the combined freshmen batting average for the super regional to .143 (5-35) as he went 2-4. One of those hits was a beautiful bunt down the third base line.

          The only other Gators to record a hit were Mike Rivera and Deacon Liput. The sophomore backstop went 1-3 with a walk while the freshman second baseman went 1-4.

          Final Takeaway:
          Battling back from a 1-0 series deficit, the Florida Gators showed resiliency and proved to the entire country why they were well-deserving of the tournament's No. 1 overall seed. After a wild finale at the Mac, here are my final thoughts on a crazy super regional:

          • This is the first super regional in NCAA history that featured a shutout in every single game!
          • Florida has played a Game 3 in a super regional just twice and won both times. The first was in 2011 against Mississippi State and the second was tonight's game.
          • After the fifth inning of Game 1, Florida proceeded to hold FSU scoreless for a total of 22 straight innings!
          • This is the third time in school history that the Gators has defeated the Seminoles to advance to Omaha. They are now 6-1 all-time against FSU in super regional play.
          • Florida's three juniors struck out 13 Seminoles tonight, while FSU used six pitchers to fan five Gators. 
          • JJ's homer tonight was his seventh of the season and first since May 3rd against Bethune-Cookman. He continues to destroy FSU's pitching as he finishes his sophomore campaign against the 'Noles 10-24 (.417) with 10 RBI's, four runs scored, two doubles, two home runs, and two walks in six games.
          • All of FSU's hits were singles. Twice a Seminole runner reached third base and every time he was stranded there to end the inning. 
          • Florida concludes the season with a 5-1 record against Florida State.

          There is really not much more I can say. My final home baseball game as a college student could not have gone any better!

          With Florida State in the rearview now, the Gators will turn their attention to the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (49-18) in the opening round of the College World Series. Words cannot describe how happy I am that Florida will be taking on Coastal Carolina as opposed to an LSU team that had won three of five games against them. My props again go out to the Chanticleers for pulling the upset in dramatic fashion on Sunday night!

          Realistically though, I think this will be a blowout. Coastal Carolina may have had what it took to beat LSU, but Florida is a whole different animal. Especially if Coach Kevin O'Sullivan decides to throw Logan Shore, you can consider it an automatic 'W' for the Orange and Blue.

          Regardless, there is a reason they play the games on the field and not on paper. So we will see what the Big South Champions are really made of when they take on the best team in the country.

          Game time for Florida/Coastal Carolina is set for 8 p.m. on Sunday, June 19th. It can be seen on ESPN2.

          As for the Florida State Seminoles, they conclude their season at 41-22. Just like last year, they will return to Tallahassee wondering how they let the Gators chomp them at the Mac. They may have the nod in football and occasionally in basketball, but one thing is for sure: Florida OWNS Florida State in baseball. Period.

          Go Gators!

          *All stats accredited to



          Monday, June 13, 2016

          UF Baseball: Shore & Florida Take Game 2 of Super Regionals

          Before even getting into Game 2 of the Gainesville Super Regional, I would like anyone who reads this article to take a brief moment of silence for all the victims of the Orlando mass shooting attack that took place in the early morning hours of June 12, 2016. Thank you.

          The No. 1 Florida Gators (51-14) have forced a winner-take-all Game 3 in the Gainesville Super Regional after blanking the Florida State Seminoles (41-21) by a score of 5-0.

          Making his final career start at the Mac, Logan Shore (12-0 2.24 ERA) gave Gator fans an outing they will never forget as he remained undefeated on the year. The junior ace nearly went the distance as he threw eight scoreless innings while yielding just two hits, striking out nine, and walking two batters. At one point, he retired 12 straight Seminoles!

          After Shore exited with 114 pitches thrown and a runner on first base, closer Shaun Anderson entered and dashed any dreams of an FSU comeback in the final frame. Working past a leadoff walk, the junior induced a pair of groundouts (with the second being a double play ball) to secure the victory and preserve the shutout.

          Offensively, the Gator lineup reawakened and banged out 10 hits in the game as Florida scored in the first, third, eighth, and ninth innings. Three Gators accounted for two or more base knocks and they all resided in the top of the order.

          Staying red hot, junior first baseman Peter Alonso crushed three doubles tonight as he went 3-4 with two RBI's and two runs scored. Also notching a two-bagger, sophomore designated hitter JJ Schwarz returned to form as he went 2-5 with an RBI in the ninth inning. Rounding out the multi-hit crew, sophomore Dalton Guthrie went 2-5 as he scored the first two runs of the ballgame.

          Of the Gators with just one hit, two players come to mind. First was junior center fielder Buddy Reed. He went 1-2 with a pair of walks and a run scored tonight. Second was freshman second baseman Deacon Liput.

          Failing to record a hit in Game 1 and hitless through his first three at-bats tonight, Liput delivered in a big way in the top of the eighth inning. With the bases loaded and two outs, the freshman smacked a 2-2 pitch into right field for a single. It plated two huge insurance runs and boosted the Gator lead to 4-0.

          Final Takeaway:
          Logan Shore did his job as the team's ace and turned in an electric performance in one of the biggest starts of his career. Before previewing the A.J. Puk start in Game 3, here are my final tidbits on tonight's victory:

          • This is the second time this season that Florida has shut out FSU at home. Fittingly enough, FSU's Tyler Holton (3-4, 2.79 ERA) was on the short end of both shut out losses.
          • This is the first time ever in NCAA history that there have been back-to-back shutouts in a super regional. It's also a coincidence that the Gators and 'Noles both allowed just two hits in their respective shutouts.
          • Before Deacon's clutch single, UF's four starting freshmen combined for a dreadful 1-25 (.040). Now they are 2-26 (.077), which is no better.
          • Off the bench, junior outfielder Ryan Larson went 1-2 to boost his season average to .171. He also recorded a putout in the eighth inning.
          • Reverting to their usual style of play in Gainesville, the Seminoles used five pitchers and committed two errors on the night.

          So here we are. Florida vs Florida State in a Game 3 with a College World Series berth at stake. With much of the tournament field being leveled by upsets, all Florida needs to do is win this game for a near automatic shot at the College World Series Finals.

          Taking the mound for the Orange and Blue in the biggest start of his college career is junior lefty A.J. Puk (2-3, 3.21 ERA). Selected sixth overall by the Oakland Athletics in this year's draft, Puk will need to prove to the whole country tomorrow that his 2-3 record is truly because of bad run support.

          Puk has a chance to enshrine himself in Gator lore if he can deliver a dominating start like he did against Missouri, Georgia, and LSU this season. For reference, this will be the second time that the 6'7 flamethrower has thrown against the 'Noles.

          Back in the 2015 Gainesville Super Regional, Puk earned a no-decision as he threw four innings and surrendered four runs (three earned) on four hits. He struck out six 'Noles while waking three and hitting two. Of course last year, Puk had a bunch of run support as the Gators won that game 11-4 and clinched a trip to the College World Series.

          In my opinion, this is a career-defining start for A.J. Puk. I want him to prove to me and all of Gator Nation that he has the talent expected of a first-round draft pick. The lights will be bright and the moment will be bigger than ever. It's now on A.J. to rise to the occasion.

          As for FSU, they will look to stave off a Florida team that has regained their offensive prowess. Head coach Mike Martin will give the ball to freshman righty Cole Sands (6-6, 4.21 ERA) as the 'Noles seek to eliminate what would be the fifth national seed of this tournament.

          Game time for one of the biggest Florida/Florida State matchups in the rivalry's history is at 7 p.m. It can be seen on ESPN2 and heard on the Gator IMG Sports Network.

          *All stats accredited to