Gators tabbed as preseason SEC champions, 4 named All-SEC
Now that the national college baseball polls, all six of them, have cleared the base paths for the coaches, Florida's top-ranked baseball team is the preseason choice to win the SEC, the league announced Thursday.
The league's 14 coaches voted, with 12 of them listing the Gators as their preseason SEC champion, and 13 choosing Florida as the favorite to win the SEC East in the 30th annual poll.
The Gators open their 2021 campaign with the inaugural game at Florida Ballpark at Alfred A. McKethan Field on Feb. 19 against No. 21 Miami.
Sophomore outfielder Jud Fabian was voted a Preseason All-SEC First Team selection. Fabian was also a D1Baseball Preseason All-America First Team selection, and one of two unanimous selections to Baseball America’s Preseason All-America First Team, which is chosen by members of Major League Baseball scouting departments.
Three Gators – junior right-handed pitcher Tommy Mace, freshman infielder Josh Rivera, and sophomore right-handed pitcher Ben Specht – were Preseason All-SEC Second Team picks.
Mace, who garnered preseason All-America honors from D1Baseball and Baseball America, was chosen as a starting pitcher, while Rivera received the nod at shortstop, and Specht made the team as a relief pitcher.
Florida returns eight of nine position starters and all three of its weekend starting pitchers from its 2020 team. The Gators finished the 2020 campaign ranked 16th nationally in team earned run average (2.41) and 12th nationally in home runs (21). Florida’s bullpen, the vast majority of which returns for 2021, posted a 1.76 ERA across 76.2 innings pitched last season.
2021 SEC Baseball Coaches Preseason Poll
1. Florida (13) – 91
2. Vanderbilt (1) - 79
3. Tennessee – 58
4. South Carolina – 55
5. Georgia – 51
6. Missouri – 28
7. Kentucky – 23
1. Ole Miss (7) – 78
2. Mississippi State (3) – 73
3. Arkansas (2) – 72
4. LSU (2) – 63
5. Texas A&M – 36
6. Auburn – 32
7. Alabama – 31
() – First place votes
SEC Champion: Florida (12), Mississippi State (1), Vanderbilt (1)
2021 SEC Baseball Coaches Preseason All-SEC Team
C: Casey Opitz, Arkansas
1B: T.J. Collett, Kentucky
2B: Robert Moore, Arkansas
3B: Rankin Woley, Auburn
SS: Ryan Bliss, Auburn
OF: Jud Fabian, Florida
OF: Christian Franklin, Arkansas
OF: Tanner Allen, Mississippi State
DH/UTL: Matt Goodheart, Arkansas
SP: Kumar Rocker, Vanderbilt
SP: Connor Prielipp, Alabama
RP: Devin Fontenot, LSU
C: Hayden Dunhurst, Ole Miss
1B: Josh Hatcher, Mississippi State
2B: Max Ferguson, Tennessee
3B: Tim Elko, Ole Miss
SS: Josh Rivera, Florida
OF: Rowdey Jordan, Mississippi State
OF: Owen Diodati, Alabama
OF: Cade Beloso, LSU
DH/UTL: Wes Clarke, South Carolina
SP: Jack Leiter, Vanderbilt
SP: Tommy Mace, Florida
RP: Ben Specht, Florida