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Gator Gymnastics Makes Super Six

By on April 19th, 2014

The top ranked Florida gymnastics team has advanced to the Super Six competition tonight in the NCAA Championship being held in Birmingham, Alabama.

Defending champion Florida is joined by the only team that has beaten them this year in Alabama, and ironically, their scores in the first round were identical at 197.65.  Nebraska gets the third national qualifying spot from Florida’s group.

The other semifinal rotation sees Georgia, LSU and Oklahoma advance to the Super Six.   The national champion will be crowned after the Super Six competition.

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No. 18 Florida Baseball Hosts Georgia In Easter Weekend Series

By on April 19th, 2014

The No. 18 Florida Gators baseball team returns home after an eight-game road trip to host Georgia for a three-game Easter Weekend series. The Orange and Blue look to extend their three-game winning streak after defeating Florida Gulf Coast, 7-1 on Tuesday night in Fort Myers.

The Gators currently sit atop the Southeastern Conference Eastern Division after a successful road trip in which they went 5-3 (.625), highlighted by a series victory at No. 4 South Carolina and an 8-0 shutout at No. 1 Florida State.

Offensively, Florida is led by junior catcher Taylor Gushue (.338, 32 RBI), who also led with a .357 (5-for 14) average at USC as he has now hit in a career-best 11 straight games. Freshman Peter Alonso (.278, 14 RBI) also contributed, batting a team best .394 (13-for 33) on the eight-game road trip.

Gator coach Kevin O’Sullivan says his team is continuing to get better and better.

 “I know I’m throwing out a lot of compliments here and I feel good about where we are at, but we have a long way to go. Every game is different and this is going to be a heck of a race to the finish in the SEC, but I do like the direction we are going,” says O’Sullivan.

Florida has won its last six regular-season series against Georgia and are 14-6 (.700) under O’Sullivan against the Bulldogs.

Freshman Logan Shore (3-2, 1.67) will take the bump for the Gators Friday night against Georgia’s senior lefty Ryan Lawlor (3-2, 3.44). Shore has pitched in at least five innings in all eight of his starts and is 3-1 in SEC play.

Coach O’Sullivan says he has nothing but confidence in Shore.

“We are starting to get to the point where we expect a lot out of him, and I feel comfortable with him going out there on Friday nights. He doesn’t act like a freshman, doesn’t pitch like a freshman, and he has a lot of respect from his teammates. He prepares himself for his starts and I feel very good with him out there,” says O’Sullivan.

Saturday night Coach O’Sullivan will send righty Aaron Rhodes to the mound (3-2, 2.63) against Georgia’s freshman righty Robert Tyler.

Tune into 103.7 The Gator to hear the entire series with Jeff Cardozo and Mick Hubert. First pitch is set for 7:30 p.m. on Friday, 7 p.m. on Saturday and noon on Sunday.

To hear audio from Coach O’Sullivan click below:

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Florida Gymnastics Defends National Title at NCAA Championships

By on April 19th, 2014

When the Florida gymnastics team hits the mat this weekend at the NCAA Championships, the weekend will be tinged with an aura of familiarity.

The defending national champion Gators aim to win their second title in a row, beginning with the second semifinal pairing Friday night in Birmingham. Hosted by the SEC rival Crimson Tide, the environment is familiar, as are five opponents amongst the 12 teams competing in the two semifinal groups.

“I don’t want to necessarily say it’s an advantage, but it’s nice that our athletes have already been there and they’ve already competed in that arena, so they know the visuals walking in and they know where the equipment is laid out,” Gators coach Rhonda Faehn said. “All of these little things that an athlete has to adjust to on the first practice day, those are things we will not have to adjust to. It’s just a matter of getting the body comfortable again up on that podium.”

After the success of 2013, the Gators’ desire to compete for another championship grew stronger. A 15-2 season culminated with Florida holding the No. 1 spot in the nation for the fourth time entering NCAA postseason play.

“I know they’re really excited. They cannot wait. This is what they’ve trained all year for and we’ve had a tremendous journey up to this point,” Faehn said. “Now, they just want to go out there, get started, and compete their hearts out.”

Following the semifinal sessions on Friday, the top teams will advance to the Super Six on Saturday night to crown the national champion. Florida started the NCAAs two weeks ago, posting the best score at the University Park Regional to advance to the final weekend of competition. The break was restless for fans and players alike, but the time was used wisely by the team.

“Right after we got back home from regionals, we spent a few days focusing more on individualized skills and making little corrections here and there. Building back up, we started at the end of the week on Friday and Saturday by really putting in the numbers of the routines and putting in hard landings,” Faehn said.

This weekend’s competition marks the 32nd NCAA Championship berth in program history for the Orange and Blue. The second semifinal session is scheduled for 8 p.m. on Friday, contested between Florida, Alabama, UCLA, Nebraska, Penn State, and Utah.

Saturday’s Super Six is slated for 7 p.m..

Rhonda Faehn on playing in a familiar setting
Faehn on UF’s excitement level
Faehn on the two week layoff

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Gator Softball Travels to College Station to Take on Texas A&M

By on April 18th, 2014

The No. 5/7 University of Florida softball team will travel to College Station, Texas, this weekend to face No. 21/22 Texas A&M in three-game series at the Aggie Softball Complex.

This weekend marks the first games between Florida (37-8, 8-7 SEC) and Texas A&M (29-14, 9-9 SEC) since the Aggies became a member of the Southeastern Conference in July, 2012. Since 2011, UF holds a 3-1 mark against teams from the Lone Star State, and a 4-3 overall series lead against the Aggies.

The SEC series marks the Gators’ 19th games this season against a nationally ranked opponent in both national polls at the time of the contest; the Gators are 11-7 in these games, including four straight wins.

The Orange and Blue won three nonconference games last week to extend its overall winning streak to six, their longest winning streak since they opened the season with 24 straight wins.

Following the weekend series against Texas A&M, the Gators return to Gainesville for their final homestand. Florida will host in-state rival USF on Wednesday at 6 p.m. before Missouri visits Friday thru Sunday for UF’s last home series of the regular season.

This series begins Friday at 8 p.m., with the middle game set for 6 p.m. Saturday, followed by a 1 p.m. finale on Sunday. ESPN 850 WRUF will carry the entire slate of games for your listening pleasure.

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Florida Women’s Tennis Heads Into SEC Tourney Looking to Win Fifth Straight Title

By on April 18th, 2014

When it comes to the Florida women’s tennis team, success is always expected in the SEC Tournament.  The team heads into this year’s tournament after finishing 11-2 in the conference, which put it into a three-way tie for second place.

Due to the tie, the team will be a four seed heading into the tournament.  This is the fourth time in school history that the team has not been a one or two seed heading into the tournament.  Florida head coach Roland Thornqvist says this will definitely be a challenging tournament for the team.

“We’re going to be preparing for a pretty grueling tournament coming up.  The SEC this year is just wickedly tough, and obviously with the draw we didn’t get any favors.  We didn’t last year either, and so we’re going to keep that in the back of our minds when we’re heading up north.”

Getting to the SEC Championship has almost been a given every year since the team has competed in the tournament, reaching the final 24 of the 26 years the event has been held.  However this year the team has its work cut out for them as the Gators will have to face either Missouri or Texas A&M in their opening quarterfinal match.  Thornqvist went on to talk about how tough the team’s opening match-up has the potential to be and how the team will prepare for it.

“Friday’s going to be tough.  We’re playing a top-ten team probably on Friday, right off the bat.  We’ll get up there, practice a little bit on their courts.  Hopefully the weather will be nice and we’ll play outdoors.  But, you know we can’t really look past Friday in any way, shape or form.”

But according Thornqvist, the team is playing better now than they have all year.

“Our freshmen certainly are playing better than they have all year.  Our doubles play is better now than it has been all year.  Brianna [Morgan] is really starting to hit the ball well, and when she’s clicking at one she’s as good as anyone in the country at one; and obviously that helps the team a lot because then we really know what we’re going to get from our seniors.  They’ve given it to us for four years, I know exactly that I can count on them.”

If the team wins Friday’s match they will play in the semifinal match on Saturday.

To hear audio from this story, please click below.

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Miami Heat and Orlando Magic Update and Playoff Edition

By on April 18th, 2014

Both the Miami Heat and Orlando Magic finished up their regular seasons on Wednesday. While the Heat are headed towards the playoffs with the number two seed and a 54-28 record. They will play the Charlotte Bobcats in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Orlando weren’t so lucky ending the regular season with a 23-59 record with a loss to the Indiana Pacers 101-86. Magic head coach  Jacque Vaughn said that even though they are not playoff bound there was improvement with his team.

“We got good men in the locker room who want to get better and got better this year. I am extremely proud of the men in that locker room. I’m glad that they allow me to coach them and there are brighter days ahead.”

Meanwhile Miami guard Dwyane Wade is looking forward to playing Charlotte.

“It’s always close games  when we play them; the team compete very hard, they’re very comfortable in their game and have a great one-two punch with Kemba and Big Al but they have a great system and all of them are involved so we got to come with our hard hats on and  stay focused throughout and Sunday will be an important game for us to try and get Game One on our home floor.”

The Heat plays Sunday at 3:30.

For audio on the story, click below:

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Florida Men’s Tennis Heads to Nashville for SEC Tournament

By on April 17th, 2014

The 2014 Southeastern Conference Men’s Tennis Tournament began Wednesday, April 16 at the Brownlee O. Currey Jr. Tennis Center at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.

The University of Florida Gators are the fourth seed after finishing fourth in the SEC regular season. The Gators earned a two-round bye since they are one of the top four seeds. The Gators play on Friday at 7pm against the winner of fifth seed Mississippi State and the winner between 12 seed Arkansas and 13 seed LSU.

The Gators have an overall record of 13-8 and a record of 8-4 in the SEC. The Gators have a 9-1 record at home this season. Florida coach Bryan Shelton says his team is playing well.

“Our freshmen continue to do well. We’re asking a lot of them. Every week they’re in key roles for us and they’re doing well. Diego Hidalgo’s competing like a champion. And Maxx Lipman, Elliott Orkin, they’re really having to step up,” said Shelton.

Florida is coming off a win over Kentucky. Shelton says the win over the Wildcats boosted the team’s morale going into the tournament.

“For us, we’re excited to go into the tournament. Obviously it helps to have beaten Kentucky, a good feeling going in, feel like we have some momentum. The conference is always tough but at the same time we feel like we can beat anyone in the conference,” said Sherman.

“I always love the tournament, the conference tournament, because you’ve had a chance to see everybody throughout the season and so it’s a little bit easier to make the game plans. And hopefully we’re at a point where we can go in there and execute our game plan,” Shelton said.

The tournament championship is Sunday at 2pm.

For audio from this story, please click below:

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Former Gator Baseball Player Brandon McArthur Excels as an Angels Scout

By on April 17th, 2014

Former University of Florida baseball player Brandon McArthur continues to do what he loves best. From making plays on the field, to calling the shots as a professional scout, McArthur’s passion for the game of baseball is hard to miss. He graduated from the University of Florida in 2009, and by 2010 he became a part of the Los Angeles Angels organization.

When McArthur was asked how he got into the scouting business, he claims there was some luck involved.

“I got really lucky. I interviewed with a handful of teams and was blessed to become apart of the Angel’s organization in 2010. Interview and everything went well, and I was off and running,” he said.

McArthur’s first spring season was in Georgia and the Carolina’s in 2011. After that it was off to Florida. McArthur grew up and played baseball in Florida, so he was able to get back home while covering central and northern Florida for the Angels.

McArthur says it’s not so easy making it to the big leagues.

“It’s not an easy road to the big leagues by any means. Even if a guy can hit that ball out, and throw 95 miles an hour, does he have the makeup to make it to the big leagues?”

When it comes to scouting, McArthur says it doesn’t just come down to talent. He says you have to dig deeper into the player off the field to get a feel for the type of team player he may or may not be.

“You have to do a little more investigating into the kid off the field. Sit down and talk to him, find out who he is. Is he going to be a guy that’s liked in the clubhouse? Is he going to be a hard worker or is he going to fold when he’s faced with adversity? I think that’s a very important part of things.”

When asked if the coaches are honest with him about the players overall performance, McArthur says he’s lucky to have connections with the majority of the coaches.

“Yeah most coaches are. Like I said, luckily I got to come back down to my home state. I’m very lucky to know the majority of the coaches in the area that I cover, and I’ve known them for a long time.”

McArthur continues his career as a scout for the Angel’s organization, and he never seems to forget just how “lucky” he is.

For audio, click below:

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Beal, Wizards Prepare for NBA Playoffs

By on April 16th, 2014

The Washington Wizards (43-38) are going to the NBA playoffs for the first time since 2008 where they lost to the Lebron-led Cleveland Cavaliers 4-2 in the first round. Led by two young up-and-coming stars in starting point guard John Wall and starting shooting guard, former Gator Bradley Beal, the Wizards will look to win their first playoff series since 2005 when they defeated Chicago in the first round before being swept in the conference semifinals by the eventual champion Miami Heat.

Here on the last day of the NBA regular season, there are still many questions the Wizards face as they could finish as high as the five-seed or as low as the seven-seed depending on the outcome of several games tonight. According to Bradley Beal, the team does not care what seed they end up with as they are solely focused on their team and what they need to do to win.

“Any team is capable of doing the same thing, no matter who we play, it will be a tough assignment,” Beal said. “I’m going to have the same mentality playing against Miami, Chicago, Toronto, or Indiana, it doesn’t matter. We’re all, as a team, going to come in with the same mentality that we’re going to play hard every night and take it game-by-game and go try to win a series.”

After spending one year at the University of Florida during the 2011-2012 season, Beal noticed a big maturity leap in his personal life and his overall game play which he attributes directly to Gator coach Billy Donovan.

“Coach Donovan is a great coach, one of the best I ever played for,” Beal said. “His system and his style of play matured me, made me grow up as a man and be prepared, not just for basketball, but for life outside of basketball and I definitely give a lot of credit to him because he brought me in and didn’t guarantee me anything and pushed me to be the man I am today.”

Beal is second on the team averaging 17 points per game in only his second year in the league trailing only Wall’s 19.4 points per game. While the two are known for their offensive presence on the court, Wall is quick to point to the real strength of the team, defense.

“Main thing we do when we’re not making shots, in the past, we get down and don’t play defense on the other end,” Wall said. “We just keep preaching and trying to tell guys if you’re not making shots, you still have a whole half or three quarters to make shots and if you keep playing defense, you give yourself a chance.”

Although today is the last day of the regular season, Washington’s playoff future is still very murky. The Wizards wrap up the regular season tonight on the road against the Boston Celtics (25-56). A win for the Wizards and a loss by the Brooklyn Nets (44-37) to the Cleveland Cavaliers (32-49) will secure the five-seed for the Wizards. If both the Nets and Wizards win, Washington will secure the six-seed. A loss by the Wizards and win for the Charlotte Bobcats (42-39) over the Chicago Bulls (48-33) would hand the Wizards the seven-seed with a difficult first round match-up against the two-time defending champion Miami Heat (54-27).

For audio on this story, click below:

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Beal on Coach Donovan

Wall on Defense

 

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Wednesday Sports Update

By on April 16th, 2014

The NBA regular season ends, the NHL playoffs begin, Tennessee is looking for a new basketball coach and baseball is in full swing in our Wednesday Sports Update…

** The NBA regular season ends tonight and the playoffs are right around the corner.   San Antonio is the top seed in the West while Indiana is the top seed in the Eastern Conference.

** The NHL playoffs begin tonight with a new format.   The team with the best regular season record, Boston, plays Detroit.

** Tennessee is looking for a new men’s basketball coach after Cuonzo Martin leaves to take the head coaching job at Cal.

** More players declare for the NBA Draft including Arizona’s Nick Johnson and Aaron Gordon and Michigan’s Nik Stauskas.

** In MLB results, Miami breaks an eight game losing streak with an 11-2 win over Washington.  Meanwhile, Tampa Bay will lose pitcher Matt Moore for the season after he said he will have Tommy John surgery.

** And free agent running back Chris Johnson visits the New York Jets as the free agent looks to sign with a new team after being released by Tennessee after six seasons.   Johnson ran for almost 1100 yards last year.

 

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