By Robert Larimer
The Florida Gators’ baseball team played a nine-inning split scrimmage on Friday under ideal baseball weather in November at McKethan Stadium.
The team split evenly into two squads with the home team winning 4-0, led by starting pitcher Kirsten Whitson. Whitson, a junior, looked to be in the form he displayed as an incoming freshman two seasons ago when he regularly hit the mid-90s on his fastball.
Whitson pitched three shutout innings of one-hit baseball reaching the 90s on his fastball and displayed a wicked change up. He looks to be ready for a weekend starter at this stage of the fall season.
The Gators have added speed with freshman outfielder Taylor Ratliff reaching base on his first three trips to the plate that included a base on balls, a single and a double. New shortstop, true freshman Richie Martin, made solid defensive plays and also showed a lot of speed with a stolen base. Sophomore Josh Tobias had a strong outing with three hits, two stolen bases and ended the game with a long double that bounced over the fence.
The pitching is a little farther along than the hitting at this time as both teams combined for a total of 11 hits. In addition to Whitson’s performance, Right-hander pitcher Taylor Simpson pitched three innings without giving up any runs, freshman right-hander Eric Hanhold also pitched three shutout innings. Right-handed pitcher Jason Carmichael pitched no-run ball for a couple of innings.
There were no home runs and that might be something fans might expect from this team in 2013. The power bats of Mike Zunino, Preston Tucker and Brian Johnson, all high draft picks, are gone. This team will likely rely on pitching, defense, speed and a little more small ball to try and reach Omaha for the fourth consecutive time.
The Gators have gathered a seventh-ranked recruiting class, so coach Kevin O’Sullivan has given them that opportunity once again. It’s early and the hitting should come around.