The Florida Gators will face Clemson in the Super Regionals for a chance to return to the D-II World Series.


By: Sullivan Bortner – Reprint from Florida the site for all things Gators – It is a Super site.

CLEMSON, S.C. – The Florida Gators are set to to open Super Regionals this upcoming weekend at No. 3 Clemson, with game one set for Saturday at 2 p.m. and game two scheduled for Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Both matchups will air on ESPN.

Florida (32-28, 13-17 SEC) enters its 12th Super Regional in program history with its first matchup vs. Clemson (44-14, 20-10 ACC) in 41 years. The Gators and Tigers faced 30 times from 1928-83, with UF winning the two-most recent matchups in 1983 in Gainesville. The Gators are 18-12 all-time vs. Clemson, but 1-2 on the road.

Although head coach Kevin O’Sullivan has never faced Clemson, he spent nine seasons as an assistant with the Tigers from 1999-2007 under then-head coach Jack Leggett. O’Sullivan and current Clemson head coach Erik Bakich worked together as assistants under Leggett during the 2002 campaign, a season in which the Tigers advanced to the College World Series.

The Gators are looking to clinch their 14th College World Series berth in program history and ninth of the O’Sullivan era in Clemson this weekend. Playing in the team’s 39th NCAA Tournament, Florida is fresh off its 16th Regional Title and 10th in 17 seasons under O’Sullivan (no NCAA Tournament in 2020). The Gators have reached the postseason in every year of O’Sullivan’s tenure, earning a spot in the NCAA Tournament in 16-straight seasons, which ranks second nationally. In fact, O’Sullivan has now reached the NCAA Tournament in 25-consecutive campaigns dating back to his time at Clemson. Florida enters the weekend with nine Super Regional Titles, with all but one coming under O’Sullivan. Florida is 133-86 (.607) all-time in the NCAA Tournament and 18-8 (.692) in Super Regionals.

By winning three-straight elimination games to claim the Stillwater Regional, the Gators have now came out on top in seven of their last eight NCAA Tournament elimination games dating back to last season. This year alone, Florida boasts 17 come-from-behind wins, with 12 of the team’s 13 SEC victories occurring in comeback fashion. The Gators wield three walk-off victories this year.

Clemson comes in with a 44-14 record on the year after going 20-10 in ACC action. As a team, the Tigers have slashed .299/.401/.512 with 103 homers while pitching to a 4.45 ERA on the mound. In the field, Clemson owns a .968 fielding percentage.

Florida ranks sixth nationally and fourth in the SEC with 125 home runs (2.1 per game). Meanwhile, the Gators sit 10th in the country and fifth in the SEC in strikeouts per nine (10.6). At .981, Florida paces the SEC and ranks fifth in the NCAA in fielding percentage.

For the second year in a row, Florida rallied from a day-two loss in Regionals by winning three-straight elimination games to advance to Supers. Florida defeated Nebraska (5-2) in Stillwater before falling to No. 16 Oklahoma State, 7-1. The Gators then dismantled the Huskers (17-11) before delivering back-to-back wins vs. the Cowboys (5-2, 4-2).

Florida was led by Regional MVP outfielder Ashton Wilson, who opened the tournament with a 4-for-5 showing highlighted by his first homer and never looked back. Wilson went 9-for-21 (.429/.455/.714) with four extra-base hits, six RBI, five runs and two steals. He was joined on the All-Regional Team by first baseman Jac Caglianone (.353/.542/.882, 2 HR), shortstop Colby Shelton (.316/.409/.684, 2 HR), third baseman Dale Thomas (.263/.300/.474, 1 HR) and closer Brandon Neely. The latter was particularly heroic, firing eight shutout innings across two relief appearances, capped off by 5 2/3 one-hit frames with 11 strikeouts vs. Oklahoma State on June 2.

For the first time since the 1998 season, Florida has seven different hitters with double-digit home runs: Caglianone (31), Shelton (20), catcher Luke Heyman (15), infielder/outfielder Tyler Shelnut (14), second baseman Cade Kurland (14), outfielder Ty Evans (13), and catcher/designated hitter Brody Donay (11). Those seven players have accounted for 118 of the Gators’ 125 home runs this season (94.4%). In 1998, Florida was led by Brad Wilkerson with 23 home runs, followed by David Ross (19), Jason Dill (16), Derek Nicholson (15), Mark Ellis (14), Greg Catalanotte (13) and Casey Smith (12). Last year’s SEC Championship team had six players hit 10-plus homers highlighted by five with 17-plus.

On May 10, with just five regular-season game remaining, Wilson was 0-for-6 on the year. In the 12 games since, his .366 average is second on the team behind Caglianone (.405) as he has racked up 11 games, nine starts, 15 hits and 41 at bats. Wilson has earned the No. 3 spot in the order by posting a .409 on-base percentage, .585 slugging percentage, 11 RBI and nine runs in that span.

Caglianone delivered three extraordinary feats over the course of the regular season. After homering in an NCAA-record nine-straight games from April 6-19, Caglianone followed the act with an equally brilliant one by going 66-consecutive plate appearances without a strikeout from April 7-27. The slugger then proceeded to post a 30-game hitting streak from March 23 through May 12 to tie the all-time program mark set by Jacob Young in 2021. He now owns each of the two-most-prolific home run seasons in Gators history, setting the team record with 33 last season while his 31 bombs this year rank second.

This season, Caglianone has slashed .410/.526/.847 with 31 home runs, 75 runs scored and 63 RBI – all of which lead the Gators. The two-way standout ranks third nationally in home runs (second in SEC), sixth in slugging (second in SEC), seventh in batting average (second in SEC) and ninth in on-base percentage (third in SEC). On top of that, the Tampa, Fla. native has drawn 25 more walks (48) than strikeouts (23), ranking as the 60th-most-difficult hitter to strikeout in the nation with 10.0 at bats per strikeout and wielding a minuscule 8.1% K-rate.

On the mound, Caglianone wields a 5-2 record, 4.57 ERA and 10.2 strikeouts per nine. In addition to pacing the Orange & Blue in ERA, he leads in innings pitched (67.0), games started (14) and batting average against (.225), the latter of which ranks 10th in the SEC. Caglianone has allowed the third-fewest hits (56) and second-fewest homers (eight) among qualified SEC hurlers.

Freshman right-handed pitcher Liam Peterson was lights out across the final month of the regular season – a trend which continued into Regionals. Dating back to April 19, Peterson has made six appearances (five starts) and leads the Orange & Blue with a 2.55 ERA and .209 batting average against in 24 2/3 frames. The right-hander from Palm Harbor, Fla. is 2-0 in that span with just 19 hits allowed, 12 walks and 27 strikeouts. Overall, Peterson enters the postseason with a 3-4 record and 5.61 ERA, although his .247 BAA and 10.6 strikeouts per nine paint an even better picture. As a true freshman, he ranks second on the roster in games started (14) behind Caglianone and third in innings pitched (59.1).

Across the team’s last 25 games, righty Fisher Jameson has made a team-high 14 appearances and produced a team-best 3.45 ERA across 28 2/3 innings. He wields a 2-0 record, three saves and a .238 batting average against in that time. In the 2024 postseason alone (SEC Tournament + Regionals), Jameson has thrown 6 2/3 frames with a 2.70 ERA and .095 batting average against. He capped off Regionals with 3 1/3 perfect innings to earn the save against Oklahoma State in the finale.

Shelton busted out of an eight-game homerless streak in Stillwater with home runs vs. Nebraska and Oklahoma St. on June 3. He finished 6-for-19 in Regionals with a team-best seven RBI, as his three-run long ball was the difference in the latter matchup.

In two Stillwater Regional appearances, Neely went 1-0 with one save, eight shutout innings, four hits allowed and 12 strikeouts. On June 2 vs. Oklahoma State, he chucked 5 2/3 one-hit innings with 11 strikeouts to preserve UF’s season. In his last-three outings dating back to the Georgia series, Neely leads Florida in ERA (0.71), wins (two), innings (12.2), BAA (.143) and strikeouts (18).

In the 14 games Caglianone has started on the mound, he is hitting .417 (20-for-48). He has seven home runs in those 48 at bats while surrendering only eight to the opposing 306 batters he has faced. Seventy-six of those batters have struck out while Caglianone has only three strikeouts at the plate in the games he has pitched. Florida has won in 10 of his 14 starts.

Both Heyman and Kurland posted multi-homer games in the final regular-season series at No. 9 Georgia. Florida hitters have cashed in on 13 multi-homer games this season and 42 in the past three years (2022-24), after having batters collect just 32 multi-homer games in the previous 10 seasons prior (2012-21).

Florida’s scoring streak of 139-consecutive games is the third-longest in program history (May 27, 2022-present). The only longer streaks in team history have occurred from March 12, 1995-April 7, 1999 (268 games) and from 1957-63 (184). The Gators were last shut out on May 26, 2022 vs. Texas A&M in the SEC Tournament.

Since O’Sullivan’s 2008 arrival, no college program has more CWS trips (8), Super Regionals hosted (nine), top-eight national seeds (10) and NCAA Tournament bids (16) than the Florida Gators. Overall, Florida’s 16-straight NCAA bids represent the second-longest active streak in the sport. The Gators have also hosted 12 NCAA Regionals out of a possible 16 during O’Sullivan’s tenure (no NCAA Tournament in 2020).

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