OMAHA, NE - JUNE 28: The Florida Gators baseball squad were national runners-up last year. As preseason #1's in every poll, is this the year they capture their first National Championship. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
It's a new season, but the same beginning for the Gators baseball team. Three major polls have Florida on top as preseason number one. Collegiate Baseball's Fabulous 40 released their rankings earlier, and the two major polls, Baseball America and the ESPN/USA Today polls were released this week. The lofty preseason ranking marks the second time in school history UF's baseball team has been ranked preseason number one and second consecutive season. Quite a feat for Kevin O'Sullivan going into his fifth year with the University of Florida.
Coming off a season which Florida made it to the College World Series Finals only to lose to SEC East rival South Carolina, Florida returns their entire weekend rotation, as well as the bulk of their lineup. Six Gators earned Perfect Game's Preseason All-American nods Friday. Two pitchers, Karsten Whitson and Hudson Randall, as well as two "hybrid players," pitcher/first baseman Brian Johnson and pitcher/infielder Austin Maddox, join shortstop Nolan Fontana and catcher Mike Zunino on the list. Zunino, last season's SEC Player of the Year and an All-American, is Perfect Game's preseason player of the year.
Florida will be tested early and often. The Gators kick off the season February 17th, hosting 16th-ranked collegiate baseball powerhouse Cal State Fullerton Titans at McKethan Stadium for a three game series.