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Florida Softball Returns to Gainesville to take on UNF

By on April 1st, 2015

Sara Mac

The Florida softball team returns home to Gainesville for four games this week, starting with the University of North Florida on Wednesday.

The Gators return from a road trip to Mississippi State where they took two of three from the Bulldogs.

Florida has won all five of the previous meetings with UNF but this will be the first time the teams have played each other since 2010. Gator coach Tim Walton feels his team has not reached its full potential yet and that there is still room for growth within the team.

“We just haven’t been clutch yet, and we will. I feel like its just about work, we just have to work it out of em’. We just have to get out there and get after our swings and feel good about it.”

The Gators currently stand at 34-2 going into the match up with UNF and the game marks the 200th game that the Orange and Blue will be playing against another State of Florida team.

According to Coach Walton winning games happens in the batters box.

“It’s being able to toe it up between the batters box , just being able to get out there and take their hacks and do the things that they know their good at.”

UNF comes in 21-18 on the season and the Ospreys are led offensively by Stacey McClelland who is hitting a team best .419 with 9 home runs and 29 runs driven in.   As a team, the Ospreys hit .273.

In the circle, four pitchers have been used with Kayla Goff (10-7) and Kaylie Wallace (7-7) getting the most work.

Tonight’s game kicks off the first of 12 home games for the Gators scheduled for the month of April. You can catch all the action at Katie Seashole Pressley Stadium at 6 tonight.

 

Find full audio for the above quotes here:

Tim Walton on his teams preformance

Tim Walton on accentuating the positives

 

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Gator Baseball Drops Game to FSU in Jacksonville

By on April 1st, 2015

The Florida Gator baseball team traveled just over an hour and half to face off against rival Florida State at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville Tuesday evening. Florida State took the game in Jacksonville by a final of 8 to 3.

Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan had this to say about the game.

“Credit Florida State, they played really well tonight. I thought (Bryant) Holtmann did a nice job in a starting role and we had a good plan against him. He executed a lot of pitches and did a really nice job and then they went with (Dylan) Silva. We had a chance in the sixth with first and second and nobody out and we had our 3-4-5 hitters coming up and I think he got to a 3-1 count with (Harrison) Bader and induced a fly ball and then he did a nice job. The bottom line is they played better than we did tonight and we have some work to do to get better.”

The Noles got off to an early lead after scoring a run in the first and following it up in the second inning with an RBI double from DJ Stewart.  Florida cut the lead to 2-1 in the fourth after a long Josh Tobias home run, his third on the year.

It didn’t take long for the Noles to extend their lead again, scoring a run in the fourth on a home run of their own by Danny De La Calle and two runs in the fifth as Dylan Busby and Josh Delph had RBI hits.  4th in 5th inning.

Freshman Alex Faedo started the game on the mound for Florida and pitched five innings.  Lefty Danny Young and righty Brett Morales let this one slip away allowing a combined five runs to score in 2.1 innings pitched.  Those were key runs in giving the Noles enough separation to take Game Two of this series.

One problem for UF pitchers was walks; the Gators allowed eight of them in the game and two of them eventually came around to score.

FSU increased its lead to 8-1 before Florida scored two meaningless runs in the ninth inning.  Buddy Reed and JJ Schwarz had RBI groundouts to plate the runs.  Offensively Florida struggled as only Richie Martin had a multi-hit game.

Both teams are now 23-7 on the year.   Florida will next play at Missouri this weekend.

To hear quotes from the game, click below.

Richie Martin 1

Kevin O’Sullivan 2

Kevin O’Sullivan 1

Josh Tobias 1

Josh Tobias 2

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Florida Baseball Faces Off Against Foe FSU Tuesday Night

By on March 31st, 2015

The fifth ranked Florida baseball team will look to take its sixth straight victory over the Florida State Seminoles Tuesday night in Jacksonville. Florida knocked off the Noles just a couple weeks ago in Gainesville by a final of 14 to 8.

The Orange and Blue are coming off a series win verses the Alabama Crimson Tide this past weekend. Florida will send Alex Faedo to the mound to make his third start this season. Faedo is 1 and 0 on the season with a 1.59 ERA.

Florida State will start Bryan Holtmann Tuesday night. The lefty went 2.2 innings last time out against UF giving up just one run and striking out two.

FSU is nationally ranked and is 22-7 on the year while UF is 5-4 in SEC play but 23-6 overall.  At times Florida State has not hit well (just a .271 team average) and has not fielded well or pitched well (team earned run average 4.36) but more often than not the Seminoles have found ways to win.

Still, it has been an up and down year for FSU, beating nationally ranked Virginia and UCF and losing to Jacksonville.

Last time these two foes faced, Florida racked up 16 hits in route to a 14 to 8 victory. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. in Jacksonville and you can hear the game live on Country 103-7 The Gator starting at 5:55 pm.

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Jim McElwain Not Happy, Shannon Returns To The State Of Florida

By on March 31st, 2015

Following a team scrimmage on Saturday, head coach Jim McElwain was not happy with the team’s effort on the practice field on Monday. According to McElwain, the team took steps back and just simply endured practice rather than improving. The first-year head coach shared his displeasure after practice.

“The attention to detail and focus was not what needed to be successful. And it bothered it me. That irritates me when we take a step back….our mindset was not to get better today.”

The football team will spend time today in the film room and will return to the practice field on Wednesday.

Just like every other coach on staff except for Mike Summers, Randy Shannon is entering his first year on the Gator coaching staff. He was brought in by Jim McElwain to be the linebacker coach and co-defensive coordinator. Shannon spent the past two years on the Arkansas Razorback staff in the same position and before that spent a year with TCU. He made a name for himself down in Miami with the Hurricanes, spending 2007-2010 at the helm for the Miami Hurricane program. Shannon shares those experiences with his players today.

“I made a major mistake when I was young. I remember when Ray Lewis came in and he was a free safety-tailback…and all of the sudden, he was a big-time middle linebacker.”

Shannon expressed that through his experience with Ray Lewis, he learned not to be too critical.

“So I never judge an individual on whether he is an outside or inside guy. You just get a player in and get him what your trying to do at linebacker.”

Arkansas linebackers had a successful year under Shannon in 2014. The group contributed to a defense that ranked 12th nationally and second in the SEC in rushing defense; his linebacker rotations are based on the best players, not the best fit.

“Whoever the best two (players) are going to have to play. It’s not on the outside-inside, it’s on the best two guys or the best three guys or whoever we put that field on that time.”

The Gators continue their preparation for the upcoming season with practice on Wednesday and Friday. The Orange and Blue Debut is scheduled for April 11.

For full audio clips of quotes above and more, click below:

McElwain was bothered by the effort on Monday

Shannon’s thoughts on Monday’s practice

Shannon’s Ray Lewis story

Shannon will not be judgmental on a player

Shannon says the best players are going to play

Shannon on the importance of a great coaching staff

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Gator Sofball Takes Series, Loses Finale Against Mississippi State

By on March 30th, 2015

The third ranked Florida Gator softball team already had the series in hand after defeating the Mississippi State Bulldogs on Friday and Saturday. The Gators were three outs away from the series sweep, but a last inning rally from the Bulldogs was enough to get at least one win. Mississippi State scored five runs in the bottom of the seventh to win the game, 5-3 on Sunday.

Florida’s record now sits at 32-4, 5-4 in the SEC.

Gator pitcher Aleshia Ocasio went into the seventh inning without allowing a run. The freshman had struck out 10 in the game and looked for her eighth shutout of the year. Mississippi State had other ideas. The Bulldogs were able to get a couple of runners to cross the plate and with two outs and then third baseman Caroline Seitz hit a walk-off three-run home run. It gave Ocasio just her third loss on the year.

Florida’s offense did not produce much. The only run batted in the entire game was off a Aubree Munro sacrifice fly which drove in Bailey Castro. Kelsey Stewart and Kirsti Merritt scored the other two runs for the Gators on an error and an illegal pitch respectively. The Gators had the bags loaded twice during the game but were not able to get more runs.

The Gators will be back home this week for a midweek game against UNF on Wednesday. Then the South Carolina Gamecocks will be coming into town this weekend for a three-game series.

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Injury Prone Heat Still In Contention in the East

By on March 30th, 2015

One consistent issue nagging the Miami Heat throughout the NBA season has been  injuries.

Staying healthy has been one of the main reasons the Heat have struggled throughout this season, aside from LeBron James taking his talents back to Ohio. Key players such as Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and Josh McRoberts have had their seasons cut short  because of injuries.

Last night was a perfect illustration of what the Heat have been battling all season. In Miami’s win over the Detroit Pistons, Heat players Hassan Whiteside, Chris Anderson, Luol Deng, and Michael Beasley were all out with injuries.

However, Miami has been known this season for battling through a depleted roster, and last night was no exception. The Heat won last night’s game with just seven players at their disposal, with future Hall of Famer Dwyane Wade leading the way with 40 points. Miami’s win over Detroit put the team in a positon to succeed beyond the regular season.

The Heat are currently sitting as the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference, with a 34-39 record. Miami could possibly move up in the Eastern Conference standings, but would need some help. Winning most of their last nine games would certainly be the goal, but it won’t be easy.

Tomorrow Miami is set to take on the San Antonio Spurs at home, but will then need to face off against the Cleveland Cavaliers on the road. When Miami plays Cleveland it will without a doubt a spectacle, not just because LeBron is playing his former team, but because this could be a playoff preview.

Right now, if the season were to end Miami would play the Cavs in the first round. The Heat have defeated the Cavs in both of their match ups this season, but the Cavs have been playing superb basketball lately. Cleveland has won 8 of their last 10 games.

Miami follows it’s match up with Cleveland with a couple of tough, but winnable, games against Chicago and Toronto, two key games in the East.

It would be interesting to finally witness who the Heat will play in the playoffs, if they secure a spot, and see how they play without key players.

To hear Dwyane Wade speak about injuries, click below.

Dwyane Wade

 

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Monday Sports Update (3/30)

By on March 30th, 2015

The Final Four is set for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, the Final Four will be decided today in the NCAA Women’s Tournament, Gator sports and more in our Monday Sports Update.

** The Final Four for the men is now set in the NCAA Basketball Tournament.  Kentucky fill face Wisconsin and Duke plays Michigan State.

** South Carolina and Notre Dame are in the Final Four in the NCAA Women’s Tournament.  Tonight, two other teams will go in as Tennessee faces Maryland and Connecticut faces Dayton.

** In Gator sports, softball loses at Mississippi State 5-3 but takes the series two games to one; up next, UF will host North Florida on Wednesday.

** Gator women’s tennis wins its 143rd straight match at home after beating South Carolina 4-0 Sunday.

** In the NBA, Dwyane Wade scores 40 points as the Miami Heat beat Detroit 109-102.

** In NASCAR, Kevin Harvick’s string of top two finishes comes to an end as Matt Kenseth wins the race in Martinsville, Virginia.

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Florida Baseball Rallies Late, Win Series Against Alabama

By on March 29th, 2015
Dane Dunning Pitching to Chandler Avant

Joseph Kimber Jr. / ESPN 850 WRUF

Gator starting pitcher Dane Dunning throws a pitch to Alabama leadoff hitter Chandler Avant. Florida defeated Alabama 7-4 on Saturday.

The fifth ranked Florida Gator baseball team (23-6, 5-4 SEC) picked up a 7-4 victory over the Alabama Crimson Tide (14-12, 4-5 SEC) on Saturday to pick up a 2-1 series victory.

The Gators dropped the first game of the series, but found offensive and pitching success in the final two games of the series.

Sophomore right-hander Dane Dunning took the mound for the Gators Saturday, going 5 2/3 innings, allowing four runs while picking up four strikeouts. Although he left the game earlier than he may have liked, Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan was pleased with his starter’s performance.

“I thought Dane threw the ball great, other than one pitch,” O’Sullivan said. “It seems like every time he goes out there, he’s just getting a little bit better and a little bit better and a little bit better.”

Dunning was replaced by towering left-hander A.J. Puk, who was solid in his 3 1/3 innings, giving up one hit while striking out five to pick up the win. O’Sullivan recently took him out of the starting rotation, but he talked highly of Puk.

“He’s talented. It’s really simple. Just fill up the strike zone. He’s really talented, and for us to get to where we want to get to, A.J. Puk should be and needs to be one of our starters.”

Although Puk pitched well out of the pen, he would rather start the game on the mound.

“Getting pulled from the rotation is not my preferred thing. I didn’t pitch well last week, and I just wanted to come out this weekend, prove myself again, and hopefully he’ll give me another shot, starting or coming out of the pen, whichever one will help out the team,” Puk said.

As solid as the pitching was, the contributions of the offense, specifically first basemen Jeremy Vasquez and center fielder Buddy Reed, keyed the Gator victory.

The Gators held a 3-1 lead until the Crimson Tide stormed ahead with three runs in the sixth inning to take a 4-3 lead. Vasquez responded with a solo home run in the seventh inning to tie it up, and he talked about picking up his second homer in as many games.

“That one felt a lot better than my first home run,” Vasquez said about Saturday’s big fly. “It was just a fastball inside, and I barreled it up. The wind was blowing out too. It was a good swing.”

After losing in extras in Game 1 of the Friday doubleheader, the Gators wanted to ensure they secured a regulation win in another close game in the series, and center fielder Buddy Reed helped that happen with a two-run single in the eighth inning.

“Great job for those guys to get on base, and then they walked Toby, (Josh Tobias) and glory to God,” Reed said about his clutch hit. “It was a good pitcher, and I just wanted to put the ball in play and help my team in any way possible, and I did.”

The Gators will look to carry the momentum they gained in the final two games against Alabama into their contest with bitter rival Florida State (20-7, 7-3 ACC) when they meet in Jacksonville on Tuesday.

First pitch is set for 6:00 p.m.

For sound from Kevin O’Sullivan and the players, click below.

O’Sullivan on Alabama

O’Sullivan on Dane Dunning

O’Sullivan on A.J. Puk

O’Sullivan on his starting rotation

O’Sullivan on Reed’s big at-bat

O’Sullivan on the importance of the series

Puk on his performance

Vasquez on his game-tying home run

Vasquez on what the freshmen have learned

Reed on his go-ahead hit in the 8th

Reed on Puk’s performance

Reed on getting the series win

Posted in College Baseball, Gator Baseball, Southeastern Conference | Leave a comment

Florida Women’s Tennis sweeps South Carolina to stay undefeated in the SEC

By on March 29th, 2015

After a dramatic win against earlier this week, the Florida women’s tennis team returned to its traditional fashion and defeated South Carolina 4-0, with the three singles matches winning in straight sets.

The doubles teams came out strong with N0. 8 Brooke Austin and Kourtney Keegan taking their match 8-2. Austin and Keegan are now 4-0 in SEC doubles play. Freshman team No. 31 Josie Kuhlman and Peggy Porter clinched the doubles point after winning their match 8-5.

“We were much more aggressive when we needed to be,” head coach Roland Thornqvist says, “because South Carolina has a very strong doubles team.”

Porter took her momentum into singles play and had another strong performance, sweeping in two 6-1 sets. Porter had a match-clinching tiebreak win against Texas A&M, something she believes has helped her feel more comfortable playing.

“After clinching that,” Porter says, “I feel like I have the ability to win in tight situations and I’m just a lot more relaxed.”

No. 5 ranked Austin gave up only one game to her opponent and swept in two sets 6-0, 6-1. With this win, the Gators had a 3-0 lead in the match and only needed one more player to win to get the victory.

Brianna Morgan stood up and took that responsibility. She took the first set 6-4, and started to improve as the set went on. In the second Morgan dominated her opponent and didn’t give up a single game, taking the set 6-0.

“In the second set she started taking a few balls a little earlier,” Thornqvist says of Morgan, “and she worked her way forward, and instead of having to hit 10 balls she hit four or five each point, so that helped her clinch the second set quicker.”

The Gators have four matches left in their regular season, all of them in the SEC. First, the team will be on the road in Kentucky on April 3.

Listen here for Roland Thornqvist and Peggy Porter:

Peggy Porter talks about her confidence after Texas A&M

Roland Thornqvist talks about the doubles performance

Roland Thornqvist talks about Brianna Morgan’s performance

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Gator Softball wins a close one in Starkville

By on March 28th, 2015

The Florida Gator softball team wins the first game of a three game series at Mississippi State with a 3-2 win on Friday night.

The Gators overcame a 2-1 first inning deficit to start the game with two runs in the third to get the offensive momentum going. Senior pitcher Lauren Haeger dominated the game and won a close pitching duel, striking out 11 Bulldog batters while only allowing four hits and two walks to complete the game.

To start off the offensive momentum, Kirsti Merritt homered for the Gators in the first inning.  But the momentum stalled when Mississippi State took the lead on a two run double.

The Gators then loaded the bases in the third on singles by Justine McLean and Kelsey Stewart and a walk to Haeger. McLean scored to tie the game when Kayli Kvistad reached on a fielder’s choice, and Bailey Castro put Florida back in front with an RBI double.

Haeger did the rest in the circle for Florida, holding the Bulldogs hitless over the final four innings to earn the win.

The Gators are now 31 and 3 and 4-3 in the SEC and will look to improve that record today against the Bulldogs.

 

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