The Florida Gators went home from the College World Series with a whimper after two straight losses.
It was a disappointing performance for the No. 3 team in the country, especially considering the way they went out (11-3 loss to UCLA, 8-5 loss to Florida State). Not to mention, a loss to the rival Seminoles always feels a little worse than any other (read the write-up here).
The last time Florida went to the CWS, in 2005, they stumbled for a few seasons afterward.
Don't expect the same outcome this time around. This is just the beginning of what should be a long run for this Gators squad.
The loss was certainly disappointing (what loss isn't?), but just an appearance in Omaha was exactly what the doctor ordered for this very young Gators squad.
They have all the talent in the world, as coach Kevin O'Sullivan has proved to be a master recruiter with the Gators.
They have stud hitters like Austin Maddox and Preston Tucker. They have defensive studs like Nolan Fontana and Mike Zunino. And they have the pitching, with guys like Hudson Randall, Alex Panteliodis, and Brian Johnson.
It seems like the Gators have it all.
But they were missing one thing: experience.
With this run to Omaha under their belts, the Gators now have some postseason experience to go with all of that talent.
They will lose seniors Matt den Dekker (fifth round, Mets) and Tyler Piggot. They will also probably lose junior reliever Kevin Chapman (fourth round, Royals). Those will certainly be big losses, but that is it.
With the season that these guys had this year, you should expect another step forward in 2011.
In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if these guys are favorites to take home the crown in Omaha next year.
It almost seems kind of fitting that next year will end with a trip to a new ballpark in Omaha because these Gators are the new kids on the block.
Although 2010 didn't end the way you wanted it to, Gators fans, 2011 should be more than worth the wait.
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