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Seminoles renew rivalry with Gators in Gainesville

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Posted: Tuesday, March 18, 2008 12:00 am

Josh Adams' fantastic weekend has continued into the week.

After going 8 for 11 with six RBIs in three games against Auburn, the Southeastern Conference named Adams its Freshman of the Week.

After Sunday's win, the second baseman said he was spending more time in the batting cages during the week, and it showed in his performance.

"(I) came out, got extra work in and spent a little more time in the cages," Adams said. "I just came out swinging and got lucky."

UF will need more than luck Tuesday night as No. 3 Florida State (16-1, 6-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) comes to Gainesville for a 6:30 game.

The game will be Adams' first experience with the in-state rivalry.

He has moved all around the diamond this season, including stops at left field, center field, third base and second base. Adams has also been all over the lineup, batting second, seventh and, now, cleanup.

"I figured I'd probably be down in the order - seven-, eight-, nine-hole, but the extra work's paying off," Adams said.

Pollsters around the country are also noticing the Gators' excellent start (14-3, 3-0 SEC).

Though it has not cracked the top 25 in any national poll, UF received 23 votes in the latest USA Today/ESPN coaches' poll - good for 33rd-best in the nation.

Still, the great start will be tested against the Seminoles, a team ranked third in the same poll as well as Collegiate Baseball's poll. Baseball America has them ranked No. 10.

FSU boasts a four-game winning streak and a head coach, Mike Martin, fresh off his 1,500th career win.

By comparison, the Gators' 14 wins this season are all UF coach Kevin O'Sullivan has to his name.

But that doesn't mean he stands no chance against the Seminoles. In his 11 years of assistant coaching with Virginia and Clemson, he had more than a few tussles with FSU in ACC play.

The Tigers had a 15-17 record against the Seminoles from 1999-2007 while he was their pitching coach but took six of seven games in the previous two seasons.

"They're playing awfully well," O'Sullivan said of this season's Seminoles, "and it will be a big challenge for us."

Junior lefty Stephen Locke (1-0, 4.30 ERA) will start on the mound for UF. Locke has pitched three times against FSU in his career, most recently on April 18 in Tallahassee, where he gave up three hits and one run in one inning. His best start came on March 30, 2005, when he went 5 2/3 innings and gave up only one unearned run. He won that game, running his record to 4-0 on the season at that point.

Locke squares off against the Seminoles' junior righty Bo O'Dell (1-0, 3.60 ERA), his opponent on April 18. The Gators won that game 5-4, with O'Dell giving up all five of UF's runs.

A good crowd should be on hand to watch the rivalry game, and O'Sullivan doesn't think his players will need much motivation to get fired up.

"I don't think they're going to need any pep talks for it, any rah-rah speeches," he said.

In fact, he doesn't want to harm his players by making too big a deal of the game.

"I don't want to put too much emphasis on it," O'Sullivan said. "It's a game. We're excited about it, don't get me wrong, and I know our kids will be excited about it, but I don't want to put any pressure on them."

Welcome to the discussion.