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Florida releases 2011 Schedule

FROM CBB NEWS SOURCE

FloridaTuckerMaddoxGAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida baseball program and fourth-year head coach Kevin O’Sullivan announced its 2010 schedule on Thursday. The Gators’ 56-game schedule features 35 games within the friendly confines of McKethan Stadium at Perry Field, where the squad registered a program-best 33-3 (.917) mark last season and is 90-19 (.826) during O’Sullivan’s tenure.

UF has 27 games versus opponents who advanced to the NCAA Tournament, including home series against 2010 College World Series champion South Carolina and Miami (Fla.), and will have six series totaling 19 games against teams that reached Super Regionals.

For the 11th-consecutive season, and the 23rd time in 25 years, the Gators will open their season at home, hosting a three-game series against USF from Fri.-Sun., Feb. 18-20. Florida will be tested by the challenging 30-game Southeastern Conference schedule and will also face traditional Sunshine State rivals Florida State, Miami, Bethune-Cookman, Florida Atlantic, Jacksonville, North Florida and UCF.

“We are looking forward to the upcoming season and are counting on our Gator fans’ continued support,” O’Sullivan said. “We made a lot of great progress last spring, return a strong group and have several new players that we will be looking to have an immediate impact.”

The Gators host Miami for three games between March 4-6 and will clash with Florida State in four mid-week affairs, meeting the Seminoles in Tampa at George M. Steinbrenner Field as part of the Florida Four Tournament on March 1, hosting the Garnet and Gold on March 15, facing its arch-rivals on March 29 at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville and visiting Tallahassee on April 12. Other national foes who will visit McKethan Stadium include Boston College (Feb. 24-25, 27), Georgia Southern (March 8), Rhode Island (March 11-13) and Winthrop (March 22-23).

Florida will be seeking its league-best 31st appearance at the eight-team SEC Tournament at Regions Park in Hoover, Ala., to be held from May 25-29. The Gators were 47-17 overall last season and claimed the SEC title for the first time since 2005 with a school-record 22-8 league mark that featured a 9-1 series performance. UF reached the 40-win plateau for the 19th time in school history and was the lone school nationally last year to play in a BCS bowl game in football, make it to the NCAA Tournament in men’s basketball and advance to the CWS.

Florida returns 22 letterwinners, including eight position starters and 11 pitchers, and boasts its second-straight top-five incoming class. The Gators return a solid nucleus that includes two-time, first-team All-SEC senior second baseman Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.), 2010 second-team All-SEC first baseman Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) and five sophomores who were Freshman All-Americans last season: shortstop Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.), left-hander/designated hitter Brian Johnson (Cocoa Beach, Fla.), infielder Austin Maddox (Jacksonville, Fla.), right-hander Hudson Randall (Atlanta, Ga,) and catcher Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.).

Following the SEC’s postseason event, Florida will be seeking its 27th NCAA Tournament appearance. Regionals will take place at 16 campus sites from June 3-6, followed by the best-of-three Super Regionals spread out among eight venues from June 10-13. UF went 3-0 last spring to sweep the Gainesville Regional, defeating Bethune-Cookman (7-3) and Oregon State (10-2) and then overpowering Florida Atlantic (15-0) to advance to the NCAA Super Regional for the fourth time in school history, all in the past seven years. The Gators then ousted Miami from the postseason for the second year in a row with a pair of wins, 7-2 and 4-3 (10 innings), to reach the NCAA College World Series for the first time since 2005.

Soon after, the eight survivors will advance to the 65th College World Series in Omaha, Neb., over June 18-29. Florida has reached the CWS six times in school history (1988, 1991, 1996, 1998, 2005, 2010).

The five, three-game SEC home series pit the Gators against defending national champion South Carolina (March 25-27), Tennessee (April 1-3), Alabama (April 22-24), Ole Miss (April 29-May 1) and Kentucky (May 19-21). Florida will open the league schedule in Baton Rouge on March 18 against LSU and is not slated to face West rival Auburn during the regular season. For the sixth-straight year, the final weekend of the SEC regular season will be contested from Thursday-Saturday to provide an extra day off before the start of the league’s tourney.

Stops on the Gators’ road itinerary include trips to LSU (March 18-20), Mississippi State (April 8-10), Georgia (April 15-17), Arkansas (May 6-8) and Vanderbilt (May 13-15). UF’s 2011 schedule boasts 25 games against squads that finished among the top-30 in the final version of the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI).

FULL 2011 SCHEDULE