The University of Florida was ranked No. 1 in the NCAA Baseball Top 25 poll and needed just three games to show why they should be at the top.
The Gators began the college season last weekend with Siena and pounded the small program, sweeping the three-game series and outscoring the Saints, 36-5, over three games.
The defending College World Series Champions also dispatched FAU, 6-1, on Tuesday and Bethune-Cookman, 7-4, on Wednesday. The team will get a bigger test this weekend as they face in-state rival, No. 24 Miami pm the road.
Florida Coach Kevin O’Sullivan is looking forward to their first serious challenge of the season and told The Independent Florida Alligator that his team will be ready.
“We’re familiar with a lot of their pitchers, and Danny Reyes, who’s off to a great start,” Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “It’ll be a good challenge for us to go on the road for the first time.”
Sports Books Like Florida
The Gators coach said a day after they won the CWS that they could repeat and he told Floridagators.com that it was discussed frequently in the offseason.
“We have talked a lot about it,” he said. “I knew we were going to have a good team back. The biggest thing for us is to be able to turn the page.”
Not resting on 2017’s title will be the biggest task for O’Sullivan, but he believes his team will be focused enough throughout the year. If the first five games are any indication he shouldn’t have a problem.
Las Vegas was impressed with the Gators and installed them as the 8/1 favorites to repeat. The last time a college team won back-to-back titles was South Carolina in 2010-11.
There is good reason the oddsmakers like Florida. The team returns four of its five starting pitchers, as well as their star reliever, Michael Byrne. The team also has five of their starters in the field.
Oregon State Ranked No. 2
The Beavers were ranked as the best team for a majority of the 2017 season and then went to the CWS and was eliminated by LSU. This season the team wants to return to Omaha and challenge for the school’s third NCAA baseball championship in 13 years.
They might just have the players to do it. Oregon returns two of its pitchers from last year’s team, including Luke Heimlich. The senior did not play in the postseason after the Oregonian reported on a conviction for a sex offense as a teenager.
The controversy hasn’t affected Heimlich as he has won both of his two starts and led the team to a 5-0 record. If he continues his production the Beavers may challenge Florida for the No. 1 spot.
Coach Pat Casey told Oregonlive.com that he doesn’t place much stock in rankings.
“No one (here) really cares where you’re ranked,” he said. “We’re ranked there because of what we did last year, and Florida’s No. 1. They won and they should be No. 1, but that’s all nonsense and everybody will tell you that.”