GAINESVILLE — Florida’s road to its first national title will begin in Gainesville once again.
Following a loss to Texas A&M in the Southeastern Conference tournament finale, the Gators baseball team has been tabbed as the No. 1 overall national seed in the NCAA Baseball tournament.
This is the second time Florida has been the No. 1 overall seed, the first time was back in 2012 and both have come under coach Kevin O’Sullivan.
Florida will also be making its 32nd regional appearance and program-record ninth straight under O’Sullivan.
Being one of the eight national seeds was a goal for the Gators entering the season, and it leads to an easier road to Omaha and the College World Series.
“I think the biggest thing is just being one of the top eight national seeds,” O’Sullivan said in a statement. “Whether you’re first or eighth, it doesn’t have much impact on the big picture. The bottom line is playing at home for both the regional and super regional.”
Florida (47-13) will be hosting Bethune-Cookman, UCONN and Georgia Tech in the Gainesville Regional, set to begin on Friday. The format for the regional is double-elimination.
UF will open up with Bethune, which the Gators beat 7-1 back on May 3. The Gators also have some familiarity with the Huskies.
Florida swept a three-game series against UCONN in 2014. All three games went into extra innings.
“We’ve played Bethune-Cookman, so we are somewhat familiar with them,” O’Sullivan said. “UConn won their conference tournament, so they’re obviously playing very well. We played them back in 2014 so we’ve got a little bit of information on them.
“As far as Georgia Tech’s concerned, they play in one of the best conferences in the country so they’ll be battle tested.”
On the other side of Florida’s bracket, a potential Super Regional looms against a familiar foe: rival Florida State. The Seminoles will be hosting Alabama State, South Alabama and Southern Miss in the Tallahassee Regional.
UF swept FSU in three meetings during the regular season.
But before Florida can think about the possibility of getting another crack at Florida State, it must first take care of business in the Gainesville Regional.
“I don’t think this is going to be a very easy regional in any stretch of the imagination,” O’Sullivan said. “It will be challenging for us.”