The Florida baseball team had little time to celebrate after the NCAA field was announced on Monday.
A sigh of relief reverberated around the clubhouse at McKethan Stadium, as well as a spark of joy when UF secured its 12th straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
The Gators want to do more than just be in it though, having appeared in four straight College World Series dating back to 2014.
Standing first in their path will be the Dallas Baptist Patriots out of the Missouri Valley Conference.
The Patriots come into the postseason with an overall record of 41-18, having won the MVC regular season title.
Here are some things to know about DBU and why Florida needs to be prepared heading into the matchup in Lubbock, Texas:
Johnson and Martinson lead Patriots pitching attack
Dallas Baptist features one of the strongest pitching staffs in the country, including two of its best starters in MD Johnson and Jordan Martinson.
The two have combined for a 17-5 record this season, totaling 213 strikeouts with two ERAs under three.
Johnson, Friday’s probable starter across from Florida’s Tommy Mace, looks to give the Gators problems at the plate.
His opponent batting average is below .200, and he’s only allowed more than three runs in an outing once, when he gave up four against Missouri State on May 4.
In the pen, the Pats have a few impressive relievers that help the team boast the 47th best team ERA in the country at 3.92.
Burl Callaway is DBU’s most consistent arm from the bullpen.
The southpaw has appeared in 26 games, owning a 4-2 record with an eye-opening 2.54 ERA.
Two others that stand out on the roster card are relievers MacGregor Hines and Jarod Bayless.
Both right handers have a 10-2 combined record and have combined for over 100 strikeouts (Hines with 45 and Bayless with 53).
DBU’s bats feature potentially dangerous pop
Florida’s pitching staff has been damaged by the long ball quite a bit this season.
The team has given up 59 home runs this year and projected starter Mace has allowed seven.
Those numbers may rise a bit on Friday as Dallas Baptist is tied for 21st in the country with 70 home runs hit this season.
Infielder Bryce Ball is the most dangerous bat in the lineup for DBU.
His 17 home runs are the most on the team, and he’s tied for the most RBIs with teammate Glenn Jackson at 52.
Infielder Jimmy Glowenke has hit only six homers during his sophomore campaign, but he has 70 hits on the year, DBU’s best.
Dallas Baptist has been a staple in the NCAA Tournament
DBU doesn’t have that known name that’s going to pop off the screen, and because of this, many Florida fans probably feel confident going into Friday.
Don’t be mistaken, though — the Patriots belong, and they’re not new to the NCAA Tourney scene.
DBU is making its sixth straight regional appearance this season, one of just nine teams to do so.
This year, the team is primed to make it to its first Super Regional in that span.
The Pats were in the Lubbock Regional in 2016, just one game away from the Super Regionals when they lost to Texas Tech 5-3.
A victory over DBU would certainly put UF in a great position to make a run deep in the Lubbock Regional.
If the Gators can limit the damage from DBU’s batters and take advantage of the timely mistakes from their opponent’s pitching staff, Florida may pick up a huge win on its way to advancing to a fifth-straight super regional.
Follow Evan Lepak on Twitter @evanmplepak. Contact him at [email protected].