The wait is over for Florida Gators baseball as the opening weekend of the 2023 season kicks off tonight at Condron Ballpark. The Gators are looking to begin their season on a high note with a positive performance this weekend as the team begins its campaign with a fresh slate and a 0-0 record.
Florida will take on Charleston Southern Buccaneers this weekend in both teams’ opening series. The Buccaneers finished last season with a 24-30 record. They finished fifth in the Big South conference and fell to Campbell in the championship round of the Big South tournament. CSU failed to make an NCAA regional in 2022. Under third year head coach Marc MacMillan, the Buccaneers are projected to regress to seventh in their conference.
The Gators have certainly garnered a more favorable outlook from the media, being ranked seventh in the nation and second in the Southeastern Conference. While UF and head coach Kevin O’Sullivan plan on competing with the baseball juggernauts this year, his team will know better than to overlook CSU.
UF’s batters, specifically returning star Wyatt Langford, should face minimal trouble from CSU’s starting pitchers. The Bucs’ trio of Evan Truitt, Ryan Gleason and Zac Robinson had a combined 8.84 ERA in 2022.
The other side of the plate is what draws the most intrigue for Gators fans. Thursday, it was announced Brandon Sproat, Hurston Waldrep and Jac Caglianone would be the opening weekend starters on the mound. Neely and Waldrep were the expected pair on Friday and Saturday, but the Sunday spot was a point of contention. O’Sullivan had the option of using Brandon Neely for the Sunday start and leaving the two-way standout Caglianone as a midweek starter or in the designated hitter role. However it appears O’Sullivan is confident Caglianone can produce on the rubber right away.
Generally, the Gators seemed well prepared for its opening matchup, but the team must be sure not to look ahead to later non-conference matchups like Miami or other in-state foes like South Florida, Florida Atlantic and Jacksonville.
Game one of UF and CSU’s debut series begins Friday at 7 p.m. at Condron Family Ballpark. The game will stream on SEC Network+.