Two of the hottest hitters in collegiate baseball will square off today when USF faces Florida in Gainesville.
USF’s Devin Ivany and Florida’s C.J. Smith have batting averages better than .475; both have more than 10 hits; both have hit at least three doubles this season; and both have been awarded Hitter of the Week in their respective conferences.
Ivany was named Conference USA Hitter of the Week for his performance in USF’s four games last week.
In those four starts, Ivany batted 11-for-16 (.688) with a triple and four doubles, including two in Sunday’s series finale against Southern Illinois.
“He’s just been on a tear, seeing the ball real well and has a real good approach at the plate right now,” USF coach Eddie Cardieri said of Ivany.
“He has been a great run producer for us.”
Smith, a 2000 graduate of Jesuit High School in Tampa and a member of the Tigers’ state championship team that year, had similar results last week. He went 8-for-12 (.667) with three home runs and nine RBI.
His outstanding batting not only helped him win Southeastern Conference Hitter of the Week, but also Louisville Slugger National Hitter of the Week.
Propelled by Smith’s torrid hitting, the Gators (8-1) are on a five-game winning streak, recently sweeping Hofstra in a three-game series.
The Gators embarrassed the Pride on Sunday with a 28-6 victory, going up by 11 in the first inning.
Cardieri was unable to give insight on what kind of team the Gators are because the team features numerous newcomers.
“They have a lot of new faces,” Cardieri said. “I haven’t seen them play, so it’s kind of hard to gauge because they have a lot of new personnel.”
Cardieri said it matters little to the Bulls (6-2) who they play.
“Like we tell the guys, every single game is important in terms of getting a bid to the NCAA Tournament,” said Cardieri.
“You’ve got to show up and you’ve got to play hard every night no matter who we’re playing.”
It doesn’t matter who they play, and Cardieri said it doesn’t matter where they play, either.
The Gators have a large home attendance with their latest crowd totaling nearly 2,000 Sunday, but that does not matter to Cardieri and the Bulls.
“We have taken teams to LSU where there were 6,600 and beat them two out of three,” Cardieri said.
“I think the crowd definitely helps the home team, but I don’t think it helps so much that you can’t go there and win a game.”
Chris Wagenheim covers USF baseball and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org