ESPN 850 WRUF – Gainesville, Florida

Monday Sports Update (2/16)

By on February 16th, 2015

Lots of Gator sports, the pole set for the Daytona 500 and the NBA All Star Game in our Monday Sports Update…

** A busy weekend in Gator sports sees softball move to 11-0 on the year after winning games in a tournament at home.   Gator baseball opens its year with a sweep of Rhode Island and lacrosse shutout Michigan.   Florida women’s basketball lost Sunday at Mississippi State however.

** The Florida men’s golf team hosted its only home tournament of the year and finished fourth.

** Jeff Gordon, in his final season as a full time racer, wins the pole for the Daytona 500.  Matt Kenseth and Kasey Kahne are next in line.

** The NBA All Star Game is history for this year.   Russell Westbrook scores 41 and is named MVP as the West beats the East 163-158.

** Brandt Snedeker wins the PGA Pebble Beach event by three shots over Nick Watney.

 

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Gator Baseball completes series sweep over Rhode Island

By on February 16th, 2015

The Gator baseball team completed a three game sweep of Rhode Island with a 6-1 victory on Sunday.

Florida jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the first with an RBI double from Harrison Bader. Bader was seeing the ball well all weekend as he hit three homers and drove in 11 runs; he had only 24 runs batted in all of last season.

Gator coach Kevin O’Sullivan says Bader swung well all weekend.

”He swung the bat good, the thing about him this weekend is he had his best at bats when runners were in scoring position so it was a good weekend for him.”

Florida started five freshmen in this game with them accounting for six of the team’s nine base hits. Second baseman Dalton Guthrie may have been the biggest spark though going 4 for 5 with two doubles while scoring three runs.  Guthrie talked about how he’s beginning to get comfortable with the team.

“The first night was obviously exciting; I couldn’t really feel my hands the first at bat I was a little nervous. It’s just getting comfortable, new scene, I mean I’ve been playing with the same team the last four years; it’s a little different transitioning but I’m getting more comfortable.”

AJ Puk got the win for the Orange and Blue on the mound giving up just one run and six hits through 4 2/3 innings. Rhode Island’s lone run came on a home run in the fifth inning.

Florida outscored Rhode Island 37-5 in the series and swept the opening series of the season for the first time since 2011.

The Gators have two weekday games coming up against Florida A&M at home this Tuesday and an away game against USF on Wednesday. O’Sullivan says Danny Young and Brett Morales will get the starts on the mound.

Tune into ESPN 850 WRUF for live coverage starting at 6:55 on Tuesday and 6:25 on Wednesday.

Sound from the game click below.

Guthrie 1

Sully 1

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UF Women’s Hoops Falls to #13 Mississippi State

By on February 16th, 2015

The Gator women’s basketball team (12-13) lost on the road to the Mississippi State Bulldogs (24-4) 75-62 on Sunday afternoon.

Although the Gators did their best to hold their own against the Bulldogs at the beginning of the first half, Mississippi State eventually pulled away and went into halftime leading the Gators by 10 points. Florida never led in the second half as the Bulldogs continued to pile on the points by capitalizing on second chance opportunities and by shooting a whopping 47 percent from beyond the arc.

Gator head coach Amanda Butler acknowledged her team’s inability to keep up with the Bulldogs after the game.

“I thought we did a great job, initially, in the first half of setting the tone…of trying to attack their pressure with pressure and putting it right back on them, you know, but we just weren’t able to sustain it.”

Florida’s lack of rebounding and poor defense were two major factors that contributed to this loss. Bulldog center Martha Alwal dominated the Gators on her way to a double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds. The Gators were also outrebounded by Mississippi State 37-28 and turned the ball over 20 times throughout the game.

“We didn’t contain dribble penetration, which caused a rotation and they threw it over our heads,” said Butler. “We didn’t get transition offense in the second half the way we did in the first half and a lot of that was because we didn’t rebound as aggressively.”

Florida will look to get back on track and improve its 4-8 record in SEC play when they face Vanderbilt at home this Thursday night. Tipoff is set for 7:00 pm, but you can listen to the game live on ESPN 850 WRUF starting at 6:45.

Listen below for the audio mentioned above:

Butler on their first half intensity

Butler on their poor defense

 

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UF Men’s Hoops Drop Fourth Straight; Fall To TAMU 63-62

By on February 15th, 2015

The Florida men’s basketball team has seen this movie before.

Florida (12-13, 5-7 SEC) extends its SEC losing streak to four games after losing another heart breaker, a 63-62 loss Saturday at Texas A&M.  It is Florida’s fourth one point loss on the season.

Once again the Gators got off to a very sluggish start falling behind 9-2 and they would trail the entire first half. Florida shot an even 40 percent in the first half and an abysmal 15 percent from beyond the arc. For the second straight game the Gators were without the services of junior shooting guard Michael Frazier II and unfortunately the starter that replaced him against Ole Miss just could not reciprocate what he did a few nights ago.

Freshman forward Devin Robinson led the Gators with 14 against the Rebels but couldn’t manage a single point just two days later.

The majority of the scoring for the Gators in the first half came from red shirt juniors Eli Carter and Dorian Finney-Smith who both went into the locker room with nine points each. Outside of those two, the Gators struggled mightily but did however manage to swing all the momentum their way scoring the final five points of the first half.

Despite shooting 48 percent in the second half, the Gators were never able to significantly outplay the Aggies who also shot 48 percent in the final 20 minutes. Florida did manage to sink four 3′s in the second half but they were out-muscled inside at times as well.

The Aggies outscored the Gators inside the paint 42-32 and Gator head coach Billy Donovan noted that was his team’s biggest problem in the second half.

“The biggest issue in the game was in the second half, they really hurt us around the basket offensively. We did not have enough resistance around the basket.”

The Gators never led until the 1:45 mark in the second half but unfortunately they were not able to hold on to that lead. After corralling a defensive rebound, the Gators attempted to get out in transition where a turnover by sophomore point guard Kasey Hill led to a Florida foul that sent Texas A&M to the free throw line. The Aggies would sink both and those would be the final points scored.

After a series of timeouts, Florida got the ball back with a chance to win but after making several passes, Alex Murphy had to attempt a corner three that would not have counted anyway because the clock ran out before the shot was attempted.

Once again the Gators were unable to finish down the stretch but Donovan was happy with the fight they showcased throughout.

“Unlike maybe some past games where in the second half we kind of folded and got a little bit down, this is now three games where I’ve been excited about our fight and we’ve battled and fought, but you have to find a way to come up with a win.”

The Gators did finish with three in double figures led by Carter who totaled a season high 22 points. Carter finished shooting 9-of-17 from the field and 4-of-10 from beyond the arc. While the former Rutgers transfer did play his best game of the season, Donovan notes this is something he must build on.

“Going into this game shooting 21 percent, and while he shot the ball well tonight which is great, but we need consistent offense from him,” Donovan noted.  “That’s not saying he’s going to score 22 every night but he needs to be in a situation where his shooting percentage is not astronomically poor. Tonight he was efficient but we can’t have three, four, five games in a row where he is really struggling to shoot the basketball.”

The Aggies (17-7, 8-4) shot 45 percent from the field on Saturday night and 16 percent from beyond the arc. Much like the Gators, Texas A&M finished with three players in double figures led by senior forward Kourtney Roberson who was a force inside and led Billy Kennedy’s squad with 20 points and six rebounds. The Aggies also received 16 from junior guard Jalen Jones and 14 from Danuel House and collectively their efforts would be enough.

The Aggies would get there first win over a Billy Donovan led Gator team and by doing so, would put Florida under .500 on Valentine’s Day for the first time in Donovan’s tenure at UF.  Six games are left in the regular season but Donovan notes his team is going to have to realize the extra effort is needed outside of game situations as well.

“We need discipline in practice. We have to rehearse that discipline every day in practice and just because it’s the end of the game and the game is on the line, there’s a lead up to that, where our discipline wasn’t great in the game and we can’t just try to turn on discipline when the game is tight, we’ve got to be able to do it all the time.”

The Gators will now look to bounce back as they return to Gainesville and the Stephen C. O’Connell Center to welcome the Vanderbilt Commodores, yet another team that has already beaten them this season.

To hear the audio of the quotes above, click on the links below:

Billy Donovan talks about final possession

Billy Donovan talks about Kasey Hil and team needing to find more scorers

Billy Donovan talks about where the team needs to be better

Billy Donovan talks about one key area where his team struggled

Billy Donovan on Eli Carter

Billy Donovan talks about team’s new intensity as of late

 

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Gator Softball Coach Tim Walton gets 500th & 501st Wins

By on February 15th, 2015

 A packed house at Katie Seashole Pressley Stadium Saturday afternoon

The top ranked Florida softball team remains unbeaten at 9-0 after beating North Carolina State 5-3 and Iowa 8-0 Saturday afternoon in Gainesville.

The victories are numbers 500 and 501 for Florida coach Tim Walton during his tenure at Florida. Senior outfielder Bailey Castro says the offense for the most part is doing what it is supposed to do.

“I think that’s a big thing for our offense, I think being able to walk, get hit by pitches, and get hits here and there, I think that’s going to prove really successful for us.”

The match up between Florida and NC State was a close game. The Wolfpack cut a Gator two run lead down to one in the sixth inning but senior Lauren Haeger had a two run single late in the sixth inning to give Florida a three run cushion.

According to Walton, Haeger “got player of the game for that hit.”

Florida Finished the NC State game strong with freshman Aleshia Ocasio going in for Delanie Gourley in the circle in the seventh inning. Ocasio ended the game with three straight strikeouts securing the win for Gourley.

The Orange and Blue kept their momentum against Iowa, jumping out front early.  Bailey Castro hit a homer to left center putting the Gators up 2-0 and later catcher Aubree Munro got her first homer of the season, a three run shot, to secure the win.

Castro says getting early leads helps everyone.

“I think jumping on a team early is crucial for the pitching that way they can get a little more relaxed in the circle,” Castro said.

Lauren Haeger pitched all five innings against Iowa and even got a solo home run in the fourth inning bringing the Gator lead to 8-0. The senior finished the game with 39 strikes in 52 pitches.

Coach Walton was impressed with Haeger’s pitching performance.

“That’s as efficient of a game as Lauren Haeger has ever thrown for us, her stuff was really sharp it was really good.” Walton said.  “I think she’s pitching a lot better, she has a lot better command of those pitches for sure.”

Florida will play Iowa again Sunday at noon.  Special parking arrangements are in place for Gator fans attending the game on Sunday due to the annual Five Points of Life Race.

Fans are asked to park in the Harn Museum of Art parking lot by turning east onto Hull Road from 34th Street and turning into the museum lot on the right. There will be areas in the flat lot marked off for race participants and medical personnel, but an area directly to the right after entering the lot will be available for softball fans attending Sunday’s games.

Additional parking will be available in the garage located in the Performing Arts Center lot, but it is necessary to drive around the back of the garage to avoid the Five Points of Life finish line and the main medical tent.

Gator fans are advised to arrive early in order to secure a parking spot and attend their events on time. Please follow all signs and police instructions.

 

 

 

For full audio clips of the quotes above, please click below:

 

Castro’s thoughts on getting teammates on base and in scoring position

Walton on Haeger receiving player of the game

Haeger’s thoughts on Gourley’s improvement

Castro’s feelings on getting ahead in the game

Walton impressed with Haeger’s game against Iowa

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Florida Baseball Routs Rhode Island

By on February 15th, 2015

The Florida baseball team goes to 2-0 on the season after blowing out Rhode Island 22-3 Saturday in Gainesville.

Rhode Island actually took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning off of Florida starter and winner Dane Dunning but that was the only lead it would have on the day.   The Gators came right back in the bottom of the inning to take a 3-1 lead courtesy of a three run home run from freshman catcher JJ Schwarz who says he has been seeing the ball well.

“I don’t really like to hold expectations for myself, but I was seeing the ball really well and I think it carried over into spring ball,” Schwarz said.

The big offensive day for Florida though came from Harrison Bader who hit two, three run home runs to give him three homers in two games.   Ryan Larson also homered as the Gators now have four homers in two games, something it took 17 games to accomplish last season.

Dunning got the win, pitching into the fifth inning before reaching his pitch count at 75 pitches.  He had a career high five strikeouts as well.

Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan talked about the importance of home runs to this team.

“It was obviously an offensive day the wind was blowing straight to that direction (left field) and we got some balls up in the air,” he said.  “I think the ball may have something to do with it, I think you’re going to see as the season goes on there is going to be more offensive production.”

Once again a lot of players got to play in the game as freshmen accounted for six hits and seven runs batted in during the contest.   O’Sullivan likes what he sees so far from his young players.

“I think they’re playing well, it’s obviously early but we’ve seen all these guys since the start of practice in October so we kind of know what were going to get out of them.”

Florida had a seven run inning and a nine run inning on its way to the win.   Florida has scored 31 runs now in two games.

The Gators will look to complete the opening weekend sweep of Rhode Island Sunday with ESPN 850 WRUf providing live coverage at 12:25 pm.

Sound from the game

Kevin O’Sullivan 2

Kevin O’Sullivan 1

JJ Schwarz

Harrison Bader 2

 

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UF Men’s Hoops Look To End Three Game Skid At Texas A&M

By on February 14th, 2015

The Florida Gator men’s basketball team will look to end their three game losing streak on Saturday night as they travel to College Station to meet the Texas A&M Aggies.

This will be the first match up between the two teams this season and just the fifth overall, with the Gators currently leading the series 4-1. Florida is 3-0 against the Aggies under head coach Billy Donovan with the last meeting between the two coming last February in a game the Gators dominated 69-36.

The Gators (12-12, 5-6) are coming into this game in the midst of their second three game losing streak in SEC play with their latest loss coming just two nights ago to the Ole Miss Rebels. The Gators fell in disappointing fashion on yet another shot in the final seconds and Donovan notes that it’s these rough patches that you learn a lot about your team.

“When you go through this as a coach you find out who really cares, who it’s really important to and then some of the stuff weeds other stuff out where some guys aren’t quite committed and some of these things really weed themselves out. So I really like some of these situations as a coach so you can find more things about your team.”

The Gators struggled once again from the floor shooting 37 percent from the field and an even worse 33 percent from beyond the arc. However, despite not having Michael Frazier II, their leading scorer, Florida did manage to have at least one other player step up.

Freshman forward Devin Robinson has struggled some at times in his first season but Donovan gave him a chance to start with the absence of Frazier on Thursday night and he would deliver. Robinson posted his best numbers of the season finishing with 14 points, shooting 6-of-9 from the field. Robinson also totaled seven rebounds, three assists and two blocks but Donovan now questions what his freshman will show moving forward.

“If Devin Robinson doesn’t come in here with a high sense of humility now after playing the way he did then he’s setting himself up for failure. I think really good players have a high sense of humility and understanding in competitive situations how one day to the next it can totally change.”

Outside of Robinson and redshirt junior Dorian Finney-Smith, who also led the Gators with 14 against the Rebels, the team is still in search of other playmakers. With Frazier out, Florida is finding it very difficult to get significant scoring out of their guards. Against Ole Miss, point guards Kasey Hill and Chris Chiozza, and shooting guard Eli Carter shot just 28 percent from the floor and the team will need to see more success from them in order to get back on track.

Many of these guys haven’t been used to the struggles in which they are experiencing this season but Donovan says that sometimes a team’s failures can have a positive effect down the road.

“There are certain guys that may not get better from this, but I do believe that the most important area in your life for growth is adversity. The tougher or harder that things are, I think you have a chance to grow the best. If things are easy, there’s no growth there and I think a lot of times when you go through trial, tribulations and adversity most people want to avoid those things because they are painful. But if you really look at them for what they are, at some point in time in your life, as painful as those situations are I really learned a lot and I’m better for it.”

The Aggies (16-7, 7-4) will also be coming into this game fresh off a loss after falling to the Georgia Bulldogs at home by a final score of 62-53. Despite having a much better season than the Gators and sitting squarely in the race for a spot in the NCAA tournament, Billy Kennedy’s squad will be looking for a much needed win. The Aggies currently sit 3-1 against RPI 51-100 teams and a win over a team in the top 75 could be very beneficial.

The Aggies are third in the SEC shooting just under 46 percent from the field per game. Texas A&M is led by junior guards Danuel House and Jalen Jones who average 14 and 13 points respectively. The Aggies have won seven of their last nine conference games and Donovan boasts about the talent they possess.

“I think one of the better teams in our league. I think the addition of House and Jones have really helped their team. I think they’re very well balanced, I think they have depth out on the perimeter and depth of front. They’re older and I think House in particular has really given them some explosive scoring out on the perimeter.”

Both teams will be looking to get back on track with a much needed win inside the SEC and the momentum that will be sure to follow as these teams begin this final stretch of the regular season.

You can hear all the action of Saturday’s game on Country 103.7 The Gator with coverage starting at 5:55 followed by tip at 6:30.

To hear the audio of the quotes above, click on the links below:

Billy Donovan talks about the good experiences of trials and tribulations

Billy Donovan talks about Mississippi State

Billy Donovan talks about Devin Robinson continuing his success

Billy Donovan talks about the hardships the team is facing

Billy Donovan talks about the team and what he sees during their tough stretches

 

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Fresh start for Gator Baseball

By on February 14th, 2015

It was a great opening night in Gainesville if you are a fan of Gator baseball. From the ceremonial first pitch delivered by former Florida great and now Seattle Mariner star Mike Zunino, to the opening win on the field, Friday night was all Orange and Blue as the Gators beat visiting Rhode Island 9-1.

Florida was led by sophomore ace Logan Shore who got the start on the mound.   He pitched five scoreless innings to get the win.

“Tonight brought back memories, I think I was a little more nervous last year than I was tonight. I didn’t really know what to expect last year, coming into tonight I knew what to expect a little bit, I knew how to handle the nerves a little bit better this year,” Shore said.

The Rhode Island defense proved to be Florida’s best offense as the Rams committed five early errors to give the Gators five early runs.  Harrison Bader drove in Florida’s first run with an rbi single and later hit a two run home run as well.

“It’s kinda one of those things where if that things goes over by a foot or by 100 feet you just kind of feel it. Just a good swing on the ball, I didn’t know if it was going to go out or not for sure but I kind of had a feeling,” Bader said of his homer.

Richie Martin had a run scoring single as well as the Gators spread their hits throughout the lineup.   Rhode Island’s only run scored on a homer from outfielder Mike Sherburne. Florida allowed just five hits while using five different pitchers..

In all the Gators used eight freshmen in the game with three of them starting and they combined for three hits and a run batted in and that pleased Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan.

“It was a really good start for us. We had a chance to get a lot of people in there. I thought for a first night, you could tell during batting practice that we were a little bit anxious, as our swings were a little big with a lot of fly balls. I thought we still did a nice job.  It was nice to see the hits scattered throughout the lineup, like I said, we had a chance to get a bunch of guys in there. Overall, I thought it was a very, very good first start for us.”

The 1-0 Gators will look to take down the Rams again Saturday when Dane Dunning takes the mound. Catch the action on ESPN 850 WRUF starting at 3:55 pm.

Sound from the game

Kevin O’Sullivan

Kevin O’Sullivan 2

Harrison Bader 2

Logan Shore 1

Logan Shore 2

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Amazing Defensive Play Preserves Win for Gator Softball

By on February 14th, 2015

Junior outfielder Kirsti Merritt made a leaping grab of what would have been a North Carolina State home run to take the lead in the game in the top of the seventh, and doubled up a runner at first to boot, to help preserve the complete game shutout for freshman pitcher Aleshia Ocasio in a 1-0 win for the Florida Gators in their home opener. This win improves UF’s record to 7-0.

The entire crowd knew it was going to be a great night. A commemorative video of last year’s national championship team played on the video board before the game and the weather was great. Even starting pitcher Aleshia Ocasio was excited to finally make her home debut in Gainesville.

“It felt really good actually,” Ocasio said, “the family came out here and supported. To be with my girls out there and the energy was up so it felt really nice.”

The freshman threw her first career complete game shutout in a game where the Gator offense struggled.  NC State pitcher Emily Weiman only allowed two hits and the only run allowed come off an error. Ocasio also allowed two hits but struck out 12 batters. Florida coach Tim Walton was impressed with the freshman’s performance.

“You can see the movement on the pitches that she has. Other than the last two balls that they put in play, the base hit to left and the ball to center, a lot of swing and misses and different swings.”

The ball to center would have been a two-run home run by NC State’s Tyler Ross, but Merritt had her own agenda. The outfielder said they practice wall catches on a regular basis.

“Well we practice these almost everyday at practice, so we wanted it to look as routine as possible.”

The Gators are not close to finished this weekend. Florida softball has double-headers today and tomorrow against NC State and Iowa.

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

Ocasio excited about making her Gainesville debute

Walton on Aleshia Ocasio’s performance

Merritt admits the outfielders practice wall grabs

Ocasio on her performance

Merritt is proud of how Aleshia Ocasio has performed

Merritt gives credit to NC State’s pitcher

Walton didn’t think Kirsti Merritt was going to rob the home run

 

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Gator Gymnastics Powers Past Missouri

By on February 14th, 2015

Florida Gymnastics posted its best score of the season, and the highest national score of the season, to defeat the Missouri Tigers 198.225 to 195.975 Friday night in Gainesville. The Gators earned 15 scores above a 9.90 in the win, with the highest score of the night going to Kennedy Baker, 9.975 on floor.

“They competed with heart, and that was the biggest thing I was trying to impress upon them,” head coach Rhonda Faehn says, “not to focus on what we don’t have, but what we are, what we have, and what we can contribute.”

The Gators have been improving since their loss to Alabama three weeks ago, winning their last three meets and setting season records as they go. Florida posted their best score of the season against Georgia, their best road score of the season against Arkansas, and beat their previous season best against Missouri.

“You can see the overall change from Alabama, the overall closeness of the team and how they’re really supporting one another and cheering for each other and it’s genuine,” Faehn says, “The more you’re supportive from number one to number 13, the better we’re going to do as a team, and they’re really seeing that.”

Florida took the titles in each event and the award for Most Entertaining Performance. Alex McMurtry and Kytra Hunter tied for vault, Bianca Dancose-Giambattisto won on the uneven bars, Claire Boyce and Kytra Hunter tied on the balance beam, Kennedy Baker won the floor exercise, and Kytra Hunter won the All-Around title and the Most Entertaining Performance Award for beam.

“They went out and competed aggressively, but also had fun, and the results speak for themselves, that we’re an incredibly talented team.” Faehn adds, “They’re a huge group of fighters that’s passionate and excited for what we still have to accomplish.”

The Gators will be on the road to take on another group of Tigers at LSU February 20th. They will be back in the O’Dome on February 27th, for their Link to Pink meet against Kentucky at 6:45.

Listen here for Rhonda Faehn sound:

Rhonda talking about how the team competed

Rhonda talking about how the team has improved lately

Rhonda talks about the girls proving they are a talented team

Rhonda talking about the girls fighting through the adversity

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