When Florida scheduled Indiana for an early-season series in Gainesville, it was looking for a tough test to serve as a measuring stick for where its young team stood nearing conference play. Now, the Hoosiers could provide a final judgment for the Gators.
After crawling to the end of the regular season by going 2-9 in its last 11 Southeastern Conference games, Florida (29-28) has made the NCAA Tournament and will play as the No. 3 seed in the Bloomington Regional. The Gators open tournament play Friday at 1 p.m. against Ohio Valley Conference Tournament champions Austin Peay (45-13), a squad riding a nation-best 15-game win streak into Bloomington.
No.1-seed Indiana (43-14) plays No. 4-seed Valparaiso (31-26) Friday at 7 p.m. The winners and losers of Friday's two games will meet one another Saturday in the double-elimination tournament.
Florida is one of nine SEC teams to qualify for this year's NCAA Tournament field, the most of any conference in college baseball. The Gators qualified for the tournament largely because of schedule strength. Florida has beat four of the eight No. 1 seeds at least once this season.
Indiana is included in that total, though the Hoosiers took two of three from the Gators at McKethan Stadium in March. Much of Indiana's success was credited to sophomore Sam Travis, who hit .500 on the weekend in what UF coach Kevin O'Sullivan called one of the best three-game performances he had ever seen.
The Gators are 85-60 in NCAA Tournament play and have qualified for the College World Series, which begins this year on June 15, eight times.