OMAHA, Neb. — The Florida baseball team returned 12 players who started one of its two games from the 2010 College World Series. A total of 18 players on the current team saw action during the Gators’ losses to UCLA and Florida State have made the trip back to the 2011 CWS.
Seven players are making their first trip to Omaha.
UF redshirt junior Paul Wilson missed the 2010 season with an injury and did not make the trip to Rosenblatt Stadium, but he’s no stranger to championship events. He dressed for the Florida football team’s 2008 BCS Championship Game.
“It’s a great atmosphere here,” Wilson said. “At a Bowl game, there’s just two teams so you’ve just got your fans and the other team’s fans. There’s eight different teams here so it’s just one big party.”
Wilson was impressed with newly-opened TD Ameritrade Park.
“This stadium is amazing,” Wilson said. “It’s the best stadium I’ve ever been in one. I’ve been in some pretty good ones. I love what they’ve done with the place.”
Wilson has only seen three at bats during the season and has been primarily relied upon as a pinch runner.
“I know what my role is,” Wilson said. “If they need a guy in the bottom of the ninth to steal a bag or get on second and they need me to pinch run, I’ll do whatever I can to help us win.”
Florida junior Jeff Moyer transferred to UF after playing at Sante Fe College in 2010. He said his initial impressions of the CWS have exceeded his expectations.
“It’s unreal,” Moyer said. “I’m just blessed to be here. God’s given me an opportunity to come here and I’m really thankful for it.”
Moyer missed time his an injury to his right hand in mid-May.
“It’s good,” Moyer said about his hand. “It’s almost back to 100 percent. I’m ready to play this weekend.”
He was batting .250 at the time in 11 starts prior to the injury.
Freshman pitcher Daniel Gibson watched the Gators in the 2010 CWS on television, hoping that he would be part of a team that played on college baseball’s biggest stage.
“When I went to Florida I was always playing back here,” Gibson said. “Watching it last year was definitely disappointing because they didn’t do as well as they expected to do. I think that this year with the new park and everything it’s just a great experience.”
Gibson heard stories about the CWS from his teammates, but arrived in Nebraska with an open mind.
“I kind of came out here with a really wide range of expectations,” Gibson said. “I’m just soaking it all in while I’m out here. They told us it was going to be one of the best experiences of our lives, so I’m just taking it all in.”
Gibson has pitched 10.1 innings and recorded a 1-0 record and 13.06 ERA. He knows he could be called upon to face a left-handed batter in the CWS.
“You just have to take every moment and take it pitch by pitch,” Gibson said. “You can’t too far ahead of yourself and you can’t let the moment take over what you’re doing. You’ve just got to stick to your plan and take it pitch by pitch and let our defense play.”
The Gators arrived on Wednesday, giving them an extra day of practice Thursday morning. After that, Gibson made a traditional CWS stop at the Henry Doorly Zoo that is adjacent to Rosenblatt Stadium.
“Yesterday we had the whole day off, so me and a couple of teammates went out to the zoo and hung out and had a good time,” Gibson said. “After this, it’s pretty much business from here on out.”