National Seeding: Florida is the #1 overall national seed.
Overview: Florida gets a pretty easy road but will likely face a tricky Jacksonville team as a two-seed. The Gainesville Regional is opposite the Raleigh Regional where Auburn is the two-seed. In effect, Auburn is rated the #17 team based on this positioning. Good chance we see an all-SEC Super Regional in Gainesville.
Player to Watch: Jackson Kowar. Kowar is a filthy RHP that will vault the Gators into the championship game or be responsible for slipping them into the loser’s bracket. With Singer coming back from injury and pitching in the Friday midday sun, it’s likely that the Gators will use-up some of the front-line bullpen arms in the opener. Therefore, Kowar needs to shut down Saturday’s opponent in order to have a full staff available in case UF’s game-three starter struggles.
Most expect Kowar to be a first-round pick next week in the MLB Draft. But this week, he is the cog in the Florida staff.
Top 3 Themes in This Regional:
1. Reclaim Dominance: Can Florida get it going again? The Gators have slumped the last few weeks, losing 6 of their last 7. Can they turn it on in the regional?
2. Are The Injured Players Ready? Florida ace (and SEC Pitcher of the Year) Brady Singer has missed his last two starts with injury. Will he be ready to go Friday for the early game vs. Columbia? His catcher JJ Schwartz has also been out and is more iffy for the regional. Schwartz is the soul of the Gators team – he’s vital for a run to Omaha.
3. Can Jacksonville Stun The Gators Again? Jacksonville split 2 games with Florida this year in Gainesville including an 8-4 win on April 17th. The Dolphins had 13 hits hit 2 homers as they roughed up Florida starter Jack Leftwich, Austin Langworthy, and Nick Horvath. Jacksonville finished 18th in the RPI but just 2-8 vs. top 50 teams.
Why Florida Will Win It: There’s an off-chance that Jacksonville stuns UF and pushes them to the loser’s bracket but no one else in the regional has the pitching to match Florida. Even if the Gators don’t snap out of their slump, pitching depth will send them to the Super Regional.
What is Success for Florida: Winning it all. Getting to Omaha is the bare-minimum for this squad. Their fans expect to play for and win another national title while Singer, Kowar, and India are in the Blue & Orange.
SouthernCFB’s SEC Regional Previews