No tears dropped, but a soft, bittersweet smile found its way onto senior JJ Schwarz’s face. Giving a small wave, it finally hit him that his last season in a Florida baseball jersey would soon come to an end.
“My best decision was coming to this school,” Schwarz said in an interview posted on Twitter. “I’m so happy I came here.”
Schwarz and fellow senior Nick Horvath were acknowledged in their final regular-season home game for UF. Highlight videos of both players’ most unforgettable plays while at Florida displayed on the video board as the two seniors were given their iconic framed white jerseys.
Kara Schwarz and Pamela Horvath, the mothers of the pair, threw out the ritual first pitches as Senior Day fell on Mother’s Day.
Although the Gators dropped their series finale to Georgia on Sunday, coach Kevin O’Sullivan couldn’t help but reflect on the careers of his seniors.
“It can be a bit emotional,” O’Sullivan said in a release. “You spend four years with the seniors, and you recruit them two to three years out. Nick and JJ are from my hometown, so I’ve known them for a long time.”
Schwarz had a stellar career while at Florida. He now holds the record for most games started at UF with 260, although he saw a significant drop in numbers in his sophomore and junior campaigns. He came out strong with a .332 batting average in his freshman year and has a .333 average thus far in his senior season.
“It’s pretty sweet,” Schwarz said when asked about how he raised his average by almost 50 points in the last month. “I feel like at this time of year I’m pretty locked in. I’m seeing the ball good, and I feel good up there.”
“JJ’s had an unbelievable career,” O’Sullivan said.
Horvath is currently batting .271 this season, a drastic increase from his 2017 average of .186.
The two share three College World Series appearances, two SEC regular season championships, one SEC Tournament championship, and, in 2017, a national championship.
After a resurgent senior year, Schwarz will almost certainly hear his name called at the MLB Draft in June. Draftsite.com has him going early in the fifth round to the Philadelphia Phillies.
Schwarz, Horvath and the Gators return to action in their final regular-season series Thursday in Starkville, Mississippi, as they take on the Mississippi State Bulldogs at 7:30 p.m.
You can follow Chris O’Brien on Twitter @THEChrisOB and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.