The Florida Gators enter the College World Series with a 47-15 overall record while going 22-8 in the SEC winning the Eastern Division crown over South Carolina by one game. The Gators went a perfect 3-0 in the Gainesville Regional with victories over Bethune-Cookman (7-3), Oregon State (10-2), and Florida Atlantic (15-0). They then hosted a Super Regional matchup against intrastate rival Miami in which they won the first two games by scores of 7-2 and 4-3 (10 innings).
The Gators come into the CWS with a team batting average of .300. They are led at the plate by senior centerfielder Matt den Dekker who is hitting .358 while hitting 13 homers and driving in 49 runs. He has also been a terror on the basepaths with 23 steals in 30 attempts. Sophomore first baseman Preston Tucker is second on the team in average at .339 with 11 homers and 46 RBI. The biggest bat in the lineup by far is freshman sensation Austin Maddox who leads the team in homers (17) and RBI (71) while hitting at a .333 average. Two-way player Brian Johnson has also been solid at the plate in limited action with a .413 average while hitting four homers and driving in 19 runs.
The Gators pitching staff has a team ERA of 3.96 as they are led by the duo of starting pitchers Hudson Randall and Alex Panteliodis. Randall has a 8-3 record with a 2.95 ERA. Panteliodis is 11-2 with a 3.26 ERA as he absolutely shut down the Miami offense in Game 1 of the Super Regional by pitching a complete game striking out 12 batters. Kevin Chapman serves as the closer for the Gators as he is 3-0 with 11 saves while having a 1.48 ERA. He has struck out 43 batters in his 42.2 innings of work. He has also held opponents to a .183 batting average against.
I predicted in the preseason that the Florida Gators would win the 2010 SEC Eastern Division and they did not disappoint me at all. I consider the Gators as the favorite to win the 2010 CWS Title with the powerful lineup and a solid pitching staff highlighted by Kevin Chapman finishing games off. It all starts up on Saturday for the Gators as they square off against the UCLA Bruins in the second game at 7pm Eastern time.