TAMPA, Fla. — The South Florida baseball team’s quest for an NCAA baseball title goes through Gainesville.
“We are really excited because we love playing the Gators, and we’re really excited to show what we can do in this tournament,” USF senior catcher Jake Sullivan said told ABC Action News sports anchor Kyle Burger.
The Bulls held an NCAA Selection Show watch party a day after earning an automatic tournament berth by winning the American Athletic Conference tournament on Sunday.
USF is the four-seed in the four-team Gainesville Regional, where they’ll open against top-seeded Florida on Friday.
“It’s a talented regional,” USF head coach Billy Mohl said. “Florida has been one of the best teams in the country for a number of years, Miami is an annual contender to go to Omaha, and Coach Calvi at South Alabama always has a great program. We got our work cut out for us.”
Outside of this team, there was not much belief in this program. The Bulls were picked to finish dead last in the AAC preseason coaches poll. But that just fueled the fire to win the conference tournament and punch their ticket to the NCAA regionals for the fourth time in the last six seasons.
“Like you said, picked dead last in the conference, but it’s like that every year with us,” Sullivan said. “We’re never respected by D-I baseball, NCAA baseball. We’re used to it. We’re going to continue to prove people wrong.”
USF became the only number six seed to ever win the AAC tournament when they beat in-state rival UCF, 8-7 on Sunday. The Bulls don’t expect the winning to stop now.
“This isn’t the first time we’ve been to the Gainesville regional,” Mohl said. “These guys want to keep playing for each other, so our expectation is to go up there and win.”