Florida Gators baseball: See the ball, hit the ball

The best hitters in baseball hit .300, meaning they fail 70 percent of the time. Shaquille O’Neal, one of the 50 best players to ever play in the NBA, is considered to be one of the worst free throw shooters of all-time. He shot .527 over the course of his career.

Baseball is a game of failure, a mental challenge to remain confident in a game where failure is expected.

Sophomore Buddy Reed experienced that failure in a big way during Florida’s opening weekend this year against Rhode Island. Reed went 1-for-14 (.071) in the opening series hitting in the two-hole, a hole he seemed destined to spend the next month digging himself out of.

“No one, obviously, wants to go 1-for-14 in the home opening series,” Reed said. “You gotta know who you are, you gotta be a team player, even when you’re down. I was just; I was just trying to do too much.”

Reed made a simple change the afternoon that Florida drove down to Tampa to take on the USF Bulls. He ditched his contacts — ones that he had been wearing since he was a kid — for a new pair of glasses.

Actually, Reed had the glasses for a while. An eye infection this past fall made him take a break from wearing contacts but the dark lenses prevented him from wearing the specs at night. Reed went to Florida’s equipment manager and asked if he could get a pair of clear lenses, ones that he would be able to wear during the day or at night. They arrived just in time for Florida’s midweek matchup with USF.

“At the USF game, that was the first time,” Reed said of when he first tried the glasses out. “I just wore them at [batting practice] and live BP off the bat and in center field.

“I was just like, I’m going to wear these today, I didn’t feel like putting contacts in. then it just took off.”

Reed went 3-for-6 against the Bulls with two RBIs and scored two runs.

He wasn’t blind before. Reed wore contacts last season and the first week of this season. He wore contacts in high school playing baseball as well. “When I played hockey I had Rec Specs, they’re more like goggles,” he said. “I’ve never really ever used glasses in baseball before.”

Reed’s hot streak continued as Florida hosted Miami. Since switching to the glasses he’s 11-for-24 with five runs scored and six RBI.

Baseball is a game of failure, everyone that plays the game knows there will be ups and downs but Reed admitted that the first weekend of the series was hard to deal with and get over. His new accessory has led to a hot streak, which, in turn, has led to a new confidence. “Now I’ve settled down and just come out here, play every day and have fun,” he said.

His head coach just has one question.

“I just didn’t know why it didn’t happen earlier to be quite honest,” Kevin O’Sullivan joked.

“He’s seeing the ball good. How much the glasses makes I difference, I don’t know, but he’s in a good place right now.”

Florida hosts Stony Brook this weekend for a three game series starting Friday at 7 p.m.

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Nick de la Torre
A South Florida native, Nick developed a passion for all things sports at a very young age. His love for baseball was solidified when he saw Al Leiter’s no-hitter for the Marlins live in May of 1996. He was able to play baseball in college but quickly realized there isn’t much of a market for short, slow outfielders that hit around the Mendoza line. Wanting to continue with sports in some capacity he studied journalism at the University of Central Florida. Nick got his first start in the business as an intern for a website covering all things related to the NFL draft before spending two seasons covering the Florida football team at Bleacher Report. That job led him to GatorCountry. When he isn’t covering Gator sports, Nick enjoys hitting way too many shots on the golf course, attempting to keep up with his favorite t.v. shows and watching the Heat, Dolphins and Marlins. Follow him on twitter @NickdelatorreGC