The Florida baseball team (21-12) travels to No. 4 South Carolina this weekend for a three game series in Columbia. The winner of the series could take the outright lead in the SEC East. The Gators are feeling confident heading into the match up, carrying an undefeated record against top five teams this season.
The hot hand of freshman Logan Shore will get the start for the Gators Friday night. Shore has been dominant in his last few appearances. Last Saturday against Kentucky, Shore went 7.0 scoreless innings allowing just three hits in the game. Shore is 3-1 on the year with a 1.15 ERA.
In opposition to the Florida freshman will be 6 foot 5 lefty Jordan Montgomery. Montgomery has started eight games for the Gamecocks this season earning four wins on a 3.83 ERA.
The Florida offense will look to pick up right where they left off this week. The Gators had nine different batters earn a hit in route to an 8-0 defeat of No. 1 Florida State Tuesday night. John Sternagel has been a pleasant surprise for the Gators since taking over at third base. Since March 25th he’s batting .341. The Gators have also hit four homers in their last four games.
Florida swept Carolina in 2013, winning all three games of the series played at Mckethan Stadium. Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan is 13-10 against the Gamecocks and 5-4 on the road.
First pitch is set for 7 Friday night, tune into Country 103-7 The Gator at 6:55pm where Steve Russell and Jeff Cardozo will get the call.
Both the Miami Heat and Orlando Magic are nearing the end of their regular seasons. The Magic will not make the playoffs but they did get a much needed upset win over the Brooklyn Nets 115-111 on Wednesday. However, the Heat weren’t so lucky losing to the Memphis Grizzlies 107-102.
Magic Head Coach Jacque Vaughn had some words for shooting guard Aaron Afflalo.
“He was pretty aggressive tonight and it was good for our team and he probably played 11 and a half minutes of the first quarter. He had it really going for us and we established ourselves from the offensive end and he was good defensively also.”
Next up for both team the Heat will play the Indiana Pacers on Friday at 7:30pm and the Magic will play the Washington Wizards on Friday at 7:00pm.
After a 4-2 win against 24th ranked Ole Miss on Sunday, Florida remains number seven in the country and improves its record to 17-4 (9-2 SEC). The Gators are currently preparing for their next match-up against Vanderbilt on Friday.
Gator head coach Ronald Thornqvist says his team is as healthy as can be.
“We’re about as healthy as we have been in a long time, maybe a couple small things here and there, which sort of comes with it this time of year. We are running quite a bit and lifting quite a bit. We are getting ready for some hot and humid weather, and tournament play in a few weeks.”
Vanderbilt is currently ranked eighth and has a very similar record in comparison to the Gators (17-4, 10-2 SEC). This is the final weekend of regular-season matches before the SEC Tournament.
Coach Thornqvist says Vanderbilt has no holes in its lineup.
“One thing that stands out with this Vanderbilt team is that they have pretty much the same type of player, or quality of player up and down the lineup. There are no holes in their lineup. There are no spots you say hey they’re good there but not so good there, they’re good in all six spots.”
The SEC remains the dominant conference in women’s tennis, and Thornqvist takes it as no surprise, saying the competition within the SEC is great for the team.
“I think it’s really great for us, and it shows. I think we have five teams in the top 10 in the country. If you can survive, and I’ll say year in and year out, if you win this league, you have a chance to win a national championship every year.”
Alexandra Cercone, Olivia Janowicz, and Sofie Oyen all have something to share together this weekend. The three seniors will compete in their last regular season match as a Florida Gator. The Gators will honor their three seniors prior to Sunday’s match against Kentucky.
Coach Thornqvist says he’s been blessed to have these three seniors on his team.
“I think as a group of three, that’s as good of a senior group that we’ve had in years here. I’ve been really blessed, we’ve all been blessed to have them.”
Florida will play Vanderbilt at 3pm on Friday, and Kentucky on Sunday at 1pm.
For audio on this story, click below:
A Gator hoops player is coming back to school; a change in the NBA and some baseball results too in our Thursday Sports Update…
** The Florida men’s basketball team will get forward Chris Walker back next year. Walker announced on his Twitter account that he will return to school for his sophomore season.
** Meanwhile former Gainesville resident and Kansas star Joel Embiid will declare for the NBA Draft.
** In the NBA, Miami loses the top seed in the Eastern Conference with just a few games left in the regular season. The Heat lose 107-102 to Memphis while Indiana nips Milwaukee 104-102 to reclaim the top seed.
** The Orlando Magic get a win, beating New Jersey 115-111.
** The Masters golf tournament starts today with no Tiger Woods and a wide open field. Gator golf coach Buddy Alexander had an ace in the Par 3 event yesterday. Former Gator golfers Matt Every and Billy Horschel are in the field.
** In baseball, Atlanta nips the Mets 4-3; Washington beats Miami 10-7 and Kansas City tops Tampa Bay 7-3. Today, Miami is at Washington, the Mets are in Atlanta and the Rays have the day off.
Max Garcia meeting with the media.
It’s back to the gridiron for the Florida football team as it prepares for the annual Orange and Blue Debut game on Saturday.
Jeff Driskel, Vernon Hargreaves III, Dante Fowler Jr, Max Garcia, and Chaz Green talked Wednesday about Florida’s progress during spring practice and the development of the new uptempo offense under offensive coordinator Kurt Roper. Driskel said he’s comfortable and confident in the new offense and hopes to show that to fans on Saturday.
“I think I’m picking up the offense well, Driskel said.” Just like everyone else it’s a new offense for me too but I’m learning with everyone and ironing some things out. I think it’s coming together quickly.”
“I feel it fits not only me, but all of our players, he said.” “We have a lot of guys who can make plays in space and this offense creates space.” We’ve made some big plays against our defense so it’s exciting. I think we’ve done a really good job for only being 12 practices in.”
Driskel’s 2013 season ended prematurely after suffering a broken leg in a victory over Tennessee. Driskel suffered the season ending injury early in the first quarter as he was throwing a pass that was intercepted and returned by the Vols for a touchdown. However, now that the 2013 college football season is long gone, things are beginning to look a lot brighter for the Florida football team. With spring, comes a fresh start and a new season.
Driskel is now the unquestioned starter and has embraced a leadership role both on and off the field and his teammates are taking notice. One player in particular is sophomore All-American Vernon Hargreaves. Hargreaves said he believes Driskel is ready to lead the offense and define his UF career this upcoming season.
“Jeff is a great player. I think he’s one of the best players in college football and doesn’t get the attention he deserves,” Hargreaves said. “He’s handling the offense like he’s been in it for four years and he just learned it this spring whenever Coach Roper came in. I’m excited for him this year.”
The Tampa native is also stepping up as he is entering his second season at UF.
Hargreaves recorded 11 pass breakups as a true freshman and he may be one of the most talented cornerbacks in the nation, but says he’s always looking for ways to improve.
“I just need to be a better leader,” Hargreaves said. “A lot of guys are looking up to me now, a lot of freshman corners we have now. Just being a better leader and staying on top of my game.”
Hargreaves is setting an example for the secondary, which loses Jaylen Watkins, Loucheiz Purifoy, and Marcus Roberson to the NFL Draft. Freshmen Duke Dawson and Jalen Tabor are fighting for the corner spot opposite Hargreaves.
Hargreaves advice to some of his younger teammates, is to remain determined and focused.
“You’ve just got to focus. Focus on what you can do because it’s hard and coming at you fast, especially with the up-tempo offense we have,” Hargreaves said. “Everything is faster than what it usually goes. I tell them to be focused. Everything else will take care of itself.”
All eyes are on Florida and anticipation is high with the return of Driskel and the development of the new offense. Red shirt sophomore offensive lineman Chaz Green says the Gators are looking forward to showcasing their progress.
“I think one of the greatest things is coach Muschamp having fans come out to watch us so they can see what we’ve added into the scheme,” Green said. “It’s always great playing in front of the fans. Playing in the Swamp is one of the most unique venues in the nation so I’m definitely looking forward to it.”
You can catch the Gators in action on Saturday at 1:30 PM at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
For audio on the above quotes, click below:
Driskel on new uptempo offense
Driskel discusses his progress
Hargreaves on remaining focused
Hargreaves praises QB Jeff Driskel
Chaz Green on Orange and Blue Debut
Chaz Green on playing in the swamp