ESPN 850 WRUF – Gainesville, Florida

Gator Softball Wins First SEC Series Against Alabama

By on March 24th, 2015

The third ranked Florida Gator softball team split Monday’s games against the fifth ranked Alabama Crimson Tide to claim their first SEC series victory. The Gators improve to 30-3 on the year, 3-3 in the SEC.

The first game on Monday was a continuation of a game that began on Saturday but was postponed due to heavy rain. The Gators had a four-run inning in the top of the fifth after being down 1-0 to the Crimson Tide. That was all the Gators needed as pitcher Aleshia Ocasio recorded her seventh complete game of the year. Florida took the series with the win, 4-1.

With the series already won, the Gators went for the sweep in Game 3 but they did not fare so well as Alabama pitcher Alexis Osorio tamed Florida’s offense, only allowing one run and striking out seven. Alabama would avoid the sweep by a score of 5-1.

Florida will be back on the road this weekend as it takes on the 24th ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs in Starkville. The last time the Gators matched up against the Bulldogs was in 2013, when Florida took two out of three at home.

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Gators Take On Stetson In Mid-Week Matchup

By on March 24th, 2015

The fifth ranked Florida Gator baseball team heads to Deland to take on the Stetson Hatters. Florida is 20-5 (3-3) on the season, while Stetson is 14-11 (0-0) this year.

This is the first of two games this season that the Gators and Hatters will face each other; the last time they met was in 2009 when the Gators won two games.

The Gators are coming off a weekend series against Ole Miss where they dropped two of three to the Rebels. Florida lost the first two in the series losing 4-1 and 5-2, but bounced back in game two of a double-header on Saturday with an 8-4 victory. Stetson enters this game after winning a series against Long island at home last weekend.

Freshmen right hander Alex Faedo will get the start for the Orange and Blue while righty Mitchell Jordan takes the mound for Stetson. Faedo is 1-0 on the year with a 1.50 ERA and Mitchell comes into this game 0-1 with a 3.27 ERA.

Catch all the action live on ESPN 850 WRUF starting at 6:25 pm.

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Tuesday Sports Update (3/24)

By on March 24th, 2015

Today we’ll talk Gator sports, NCAA hoops, a new job in the SEC and more in our Tuesday Sports Update…

** The Gator softball team splits a doubleheader at Alabama on Monday, winning 4-1 and losing 5-1.   Florida is now 30-3 and 3-3 in the SEC; next up a series this weekend at Mississippi State.

** Gator baseball at 20-5 takes on Stetson today in Deland.   Florida will then host Alabama in a three game series starting Thursday.

** The Gator gymnastics team is in an NCAA Regional; UF will travel to West Virginia for its regional action on April 4.

** A sad note in Gator athletics today with the passing of former UF football running back Vince Kendrick.   Kendrick dies at 63 from cancer; he played for the Gators in the 1970′s.

** Mississippi State has hired former UCLA coach Ben Howland to be its new men’s basketball coach.   Howland has not coached the past couple of seasons.

** The NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament now has its Sweet 16.   Two SEC schools, Tennessee and South Carolina, are in the field.   So is FSU, who knocked off Florida Gulf Coast 65-47.

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Monday Sports Update (3/23)

By on March 23rd, 2015

Action continues in the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournament, Gator sports, NASCAR and more in our Monday Sports Update…

** The Sweet 16 is set in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament after action over the weekend.   Kentucky is the only SEC team left in the field.

** The NCAA Women’s Tournament continues today.   It was not a good day for the SEC yesterday as Arkansas, Mississippi State and Kentucky were bounced from the tournament.   South Carolina advances to the Sweet 16 and Tennessee can do that with a win today.

** In the NBA, Miami loses to Oklahoma City 93-75 and Orlando is bounced 119-100 by Denver.

** Former Gator golfer Matt Every wins the Bay Hill Classic for the second straight year in Orlando.

** Kevin Harvick keeps his string of top two finishes alive as he finishes second to Brad Keselowski in Sunday’s NASCAR race in California.   Harvick has now finished in the top two in eight consecutive races dating back to last season.

** Gator lacrosse wins its first Big East victory, downing Vanderbilt 19-10 on Sunday.  UF plays next at Temple Saturday.

** The Florida women’s tennis team downs Mississippi State 5-2 Sunday to remain unbeaten in SEC play while the Gator men lose 4-0 at Ole Miss.

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Florida Gymnastics takes home third at SEC Championships

By on March 23rd, 2015

Florida Gymnastics went into the SEC Championships in Duluth, Georgia with the number one seed but walked out in third place with an overall score of 197.40. The 2015 SEC champion is Alabama, with a score of 197.525.

The Gators started on vault and posted the highest team score in 2015, tying the second highest score ever for Florida. These scores helped the Gators take a strong lead going into the second rotation.

Another season-best total was overshadowed when Bridget Sloan earned her second perfect 10 on the uneven bars. She is the first collegiate gymnast to score a 10 on every apparatus since 2009, and the first to score a 10 on the bars for the Gators in their SEC Championship history. After her performance, and five more strong scores from the other routines, the Gators carried a one-point lead into the third rotation.

On the beam, the Gators had a rough rotation. Ericha Fassbender went first for Florida and fell during her routine. Alex McMurtry landed off center of the beam and fell after losing her balance.  In the next routine, Kytra Hunter had a balance check and touched the beam with her hand, taking a deduction. The Gators scored the lowest on beam, and were bumped down to third place going into the final rotation.

With solid performances from each floor routine, the Gators posted a meet-high on floor. Three Gators scored above a 9.90, more than any other team. These strong scores weren’t enough to bring the Gators back, and kept them in third place in the SEC.

The Gators didn’t head back to Gainesville empty handed though as Florida took at least a share of every SEC apparatus title. Kytra Hunter increased her SEC career titles to seven, setting a Gator record, sharing vault (9.95) and floor (9.975); Alex McMurtry also took home a share of the vault title (9.95) becoming the second Gator to win this title as a freshman; Bridget Sloan took the title for uneven bars (10.0) and balance beam (9.95).

Up next, the Gators will be preparing for the NCAA Regional meet on April 4th.

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UF Baseball Splits Saturday Doubleheader, Drops Road Weekend Series to Ole Miss

By on March 22nd, 2015

The third ranked Florida baseball team (20-5, 3-3 SEC) split a doubleheader at Ole Miss on Saturday, losing the first game 5-2 and winning the second game 8-4.   Ole Miss wins the series after winning on Friday.

The Gators (20-5, 3-3 SEC) and Rebels (13-10, 3-3 SEC) logged over seven hours of field time on Saturday, as inclement weather for Saturday night and Sunday pushed the two teams to host a Saturday doubleheader to wrap up the series a day early.

The Gators dropped game one of the doubleheader, 5-2, behind a shaky performance from starter A.J. Puk, who logged just 2 1/3 innings, allowing three hits, five runs (four earned) and four walks.

The Gators bounced back in the second game, winning 8-4.   Ole Miss scored three meaningless runs in the ninth inning to make the score respectable.   Dane Dunning got the start for the Gators, going 4 1/3 innings, giving up five hits and one earned run but Bobby Poyner picked up the win with a solid relief performance.

Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan was not pleased with the performance of any of his pitchers throughout the weekend.

“We got some guys in roles that just aren’t ready for this quite yet,” O’Sullivan said. “I mean it’s obvious. Three starters go out there and we didn’t get five innings from any of them.”

The Gator pitching staff was not the only area of concern for the Gators over the weekend.

The Gator offense saw its fair share of struggles as well, leaving 12 men on base in the first game of the doubleheader. Junior outfielder Harrison Bader struggled hitting the ball throughout the weekend, going just 1-for-13.

O’Sullivan was not thrilled with the performance of the offense either.

“We’re not going to win a lot of games with the middle of the order not producing like they did this weekend. Our best players did not play well this weekend.”

The few bright spots for the Gator offense this weekend were freshman infielder Dalton Guthrie, who now has a hit in nine of his last 10 games, and sophomore outfielder Buddy Reed, who extended his hitting streak to 12 games. Freshman catcher Mike Rivera was also a key contributor, driving in four runs during the doubleheader.

O’Sullivan praised the performance of the Guthrie and Rivera.

“I can’t say enough about Dalton and Mike. I think they had six RBIs between the two of them in the second game here.”

All in all, O’Sullivan plans to use this weekend as a learning tool to help the team grow and improve throughout the remainder of the season.

“I had an idea about our club coming into the weekend; I most certainly have a better idea of what guys can and can’t do,” O’Sullivan said. “So we’ll regroup. We’ll get better. We’ve got a long way to go. There’s a lot of positives to pull from today. We’ve just got to figure out the right roles on our pitching staff. We need to get all of our guys healthy, and I think once we get everybody back, and we get our pitching roles situated where they should be, I think we have a chance to be a very good team.”

The Gators will be back in action on Tuesday when they travel to DeLand to take on the Stetson Hatters.

For sound from Kevin O’Sullivan, click below.

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Gator Softball Ends Two Game Skid Against Alabama

By on March 22nd, 2015

The second ranked Florida Gator softball team ended a two game losing streak against the fourth ranked Alabama Crimson Tide on Saturday, winning 1-0. Due to inclement weather, Games 2 and 3 of the series has been moved to Monday. Game 2 was in the top of the fifth inning before the umpires called the game due to rain with Alabama leading 1-0.

After allowing many runs last weekend to the LSU Tigers, UF pitcher Lauren Haeger got back to her normal ways. The senior pitched a complete game shutout, only allowing five base runners and forcing 11 groundouts.

As for the Gator offense, it was able to get on the board without recording an RBI. In the  top of the sixth inning, freshman Nicole DeWitt smacked a single into the outfield and because of an error by the Alabama center fielder Haylie McCleney, Kayli Kvistad was able to cross home to gain the lead and score the only run of the game.

Florida now improves to 29-2 on the season, 2-2 in the SEC.

During Game 2, the Gators were up to bat in the top of fifth inning with Alabama in the lead 1-0 when the downpour came. The game will resume at 4:30 p.m. Monday with Game 3 scheduled for 7 p.m.

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SEC Gymnastics Championships to Begin Saturday

By on March 21st, 2015

The second ranked Florida gymnastics team is in Duluth, Georgia for the SEC Championships that take place this weekend.

The Gators look for their 10th SEC title beginning Saturday. Both Florida and Alabama have won the last six SEC titles, with Florida taking the 2010, 2012, and 2013 titles and Alabama taking the 2009, 2011, and 2014 titles. In last year’s championship meet, Florida lost to Alabama by just five thousandths of a point, with the team totals at 197.975–197.70.

After Missouri was added to the league in 2013, there will be eight teams competing in Saturday’s championship meet. The four bottom seeds (5-8) will compete in the first session followed by the four top seeds (1-4) in the evening. The SEC holds five of the nation’s top 10 teams in number two Florida, number three LSU, number five Alabama, number eight Auburn and ninth ranked Georgia.  The nation’s top three all-around scores have been posted five times, all by SEC gymnasts. Florida’s head coach Rhonda Faehn says the difficulty of this conference competition makes for a great show.

“Our athletes feed off of that and they love that environment. And so it is just really an energetic, dynamic competition.”

Florida finished the season at 5-2 in the SEC. In last weekend’s meet against Texas Woman’s University, Bridget Sloan became one of only seven college gymnasts (and the only Gator) to complete a “GymSlam” by scoring a perfect 10.0 on all four events in her career.  Kytra Hunter collected the floor and all-around titles at the last meet, which put her one away from tying Florida’s record for career floor title wins. Five different Gators picked up SEC honors this season, including Kytra Hunter, Bridget Sloan, Alex McMurtry, Kennedy Baker, and Erica Fassbender.

As Florida heads into the championship season, they bring with them the honor of being the two-time reigning national champions (sharing last year’s title with Oklahoma). Despite this prestigious title, Faehn says they are focused on “one meet at a time.”

“We’re not focusing of course on the national championship… right now the importance is to focus on our athletes and what they are going to be performing.”

The meet will air live on the SEC Network Plus and re-air on the SEC Network on March 24th at 9 p.m.

To listen to Rhonda Faehn’s audio clips, click below.

Rhonda Faehn talking about the difficulty of SEC Championships.

Rhonda Faehn talking about focusing on the present.

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New Offense Under New Coordinator Nussmeier

By on March 21st, 2015

The Kurt Roper Era in Gainesville did not last long.

After being hired last year to the offensive coordinator position by former Florida head coach Will Muschamp, Roper improved the offense in some areas. Yet, he did not survive the coaching changes made after athletic director Jeremy Foley hired head coach Jim McElwain last December.

McElwain decided to replace Roper with the guy that replaced him at Alabama when he left to be the head coach of Colorado State, Doug Nussmeier.

Nussmeier spent the 2014 season as offensive coordinator of the Michigan Wolverines. Michigan did not fair well last year, but Nussmeier was impressive during his two years at Alabama. Under his watch the Crimson Tide tallied 3,000 yards both in the passing and running game in 2012 for the first time in school history. The most important statistic to Nussmeier however is the turnover margin.

“Obviously, you look over the history of football, the number one telling statistic is the turnover margin. So, as a point of emphasis, it’s always about the ball with us and finding ways to create explosive plays.”

Florida’s progression towards a consistent offense is hindered by the fact that there is a lack of depth on the offensive line. Losing players like Max Garcia, Chaz Green, and DJ Humphries did not help the Gators in any way. McElwain was able to bring in one of the best recruits in the nation in offensive lineman Martez Ivey but he won’t be on campus until August. Nussmeier is being careful with the offensive linemen he has now.

“The number we have forces you to practice a little bit different. You got to monitor the amount of reps those guys are taking. We have modified and done things a little bit different than we traditionally would do with them.”

Friday was the first practice the Gators were in pads. Florida remained in the same tempo as they were without pads. McElwain still wants to up the tempo even more.

“We should be faster. Our guys have to understand that’s how we do it. Create the chaos, play when your mind seems tired, when your body seems tired, and you got to understand you can overcome if your mind will let you.”

The Florida Gators continue their spring schedule on Monday. As for now, the Orange and Blue Debut is still scheduled for April 11. Cancellation may occur due to the lack of depth at offensive line.

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

Nussmeier says turnover margin is the most important stat

Nussmeier being careful with the offensive line

McElwain wants the tempo to be faster

McElwain on wide receivers and how impressive they have been

McElwain believes iPads have truly helped the team

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Gator Softball Goes To Alabama for First SEC Road Series

By on March 21st, 2015

The number three Florida Gator softball team will play its first conference road series this weekend. The Gators will travel to Tuscaloosa, Alabama to face the fifth ranked Alabama Crimson Tide.  Alabama and Florida last played in Oklahoma City in the College World Series last June where UF won its first national championship.

Florida started the year 28-0 but in its first SEC series of the year last week at home against LSU the Gators dropped two of three games.

Alabama started SEC play at 3-0.   The series will be played on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

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