Kevin O’Sullivan felt pretty good last week about Florida’s chances to get into the NCAA baseball tournament.
Then came Sunday.
Bids were being stolen around the country by surprise winners of conference tournaments and O’Sullivan started feeling nervous again.
“Yesterday was not a good day for us,” he said.
Monday was a different story.
The Gators got in comfortably (they were not among the last four in according to the selection committee) and will travel to Lubbock, Texas, for the regional there.
Florida’s three-game sweep of Missouri to end the regular season got the Gators into the field for the 12th straight time under O’Sullivan.
“It’s not like we backed in,” he said. “We went on the road and won that series at Missouri. And it just goes to show you that playing a tough schedule helped us.”
Florida (33-24) will play Dallas Baptist (41-18) — DBU against DBU, right? — in the first round Friday at 8 p.m. ET. Host Texas Tech (39-17) will play Army (35-24) in the 4 p.m. game of the double-elimination tournament.
O’Sullivan was happy just to get in the tournament and see what happens. This has been an uneven season for the Gators, who were 13-17 in the SEC and 5-1 against Miami and Florida State.
“It’s been a frustrating year,” O’Sullivan said. “Hopefully, we’re catching form right now.”
Dallas Baptist is making its eighth regional appearance in the last nine years.
“They’re good, very well coached,” O’Sullivan said. “It’s going to be an offensive ballpark because the wind is always blowing out there.
“I’m going to tell the players this — it boils down to how we play.”
The SEC had four of the eight national seeds who could host all the way to Omaha — Vanderbilt, Georgia, Arkansas and Mississippi State. Ole Miss and LSU will also host regionals.
In all, 10 SEC teams made the tournament.
Florida State was one of the last four teams put in by the selection committee to keep coach Mike Martin’s long career still alive and put the Seminoles in the tournament for the 42nd straight year. Miami also made the field, as did Florida A&M.
NCAA Lubbock Regional
At Rip Griffin Park, Lubbock, Texas
Game 1 — Army (35-24) at Texas Tech (39-17), 4 p.m.
Game 2 — Florida (33-24) vs. Dallas Baptist (41-18), 8 p.m.
Game 3 — Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser
Game 4 — Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner
Game 5 — Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 loser
Game 6 — Game 4 winner vs. Game 5 winner
Game 7 if necessary — Game 4 winner vs. Game 5 winner