SIX BITS: awards, softball, lax, swimming, tennis

1 » There are plenty of spring sports underway right now, and the Florida Gators have gotten off to a fast start earning weekly conference honors. For the second-straight week, senior pitcher Stephanie Brombacher (softball) won the SEC Pitcher of the Week award; she tossed three shutouts in the last seven days and has a 0.00 ERA with 35 strikeouts through her first 31 innings of the season. Joining her is sophomore shortstop Nolan Fontana (baseball), who picked up the SEC Player of the Week award after going 9-for-12 and scoring five runs in his team’s season-opening series. Also making an impact was sophomore midfielder Kitty Cullen (lacrosse), who brought home the first ALC Offensive Player of the Week award in school history. She has scored 14 goals in only three games and tied a school record with six on Sunday alone.

2 » Undefeated going into the weekend, No. 5 Florida softball (9-0) completed a shutout sweep of the No. 22 North Carolina Tar Heels (4-4) from Saturday to Sunday. UF took down UNC 3-0 and 9-0 in two games Saturday and concluded their first three-game homestand of the season with a 10-0 win on Sunday at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium in Gainesville, FL. Brombacher (6-0) tossed seven scoreless innings on Saturday and five more on Sunday, only giving up a total of nine hits and two walks over the contests. Freshman P Hannah Rogers (3-0) spelled her in between, allowing only two hits in her five shutout innings.

The Gators hit four home runs on Saturday alone; senior first baseman Megan Bush (4-7, HR, 6 RBI, 2 BB) and junior center fielder Michelle Moultrie (5-7, HR, 2 RBI) connected in the first game, while senior second baseman Aja Paculba (3-8, 3 RBI) and sophomore right fielder Kelsey Horton (1-5, 3 RBI) teed-off in the second contest. Florida’s scoring Sunday came from all over the place with senior left fielder Kelsey Bruder (2-8, 2 RBI, 4 R) leading the way with a homer, two RBI and three runs scored.

3 » Cullen’s six amazing goals on Sunday helped No. 17 Gators lacrosse (2-1) top the No. 20 Denver Pioneers (0-2) 15-7 at Donald R. Dizney Stadium in Gainesville. Assisting her was sophomore attacker Ashley Bruns who scored three goals and notched a career-high four assists on her way to seven points and a hat trick.

Read the rest of this SIX BITS post…after the break!

4 » Though both competed ferociously until the end, Florida’s No. 5 men’s and No. 8 women’s swimming and diving teams each fell short of capturing their respective 2011 SEC Championships over the weekend. Both teams finished in second place, but individual Gators came away from the championships with a number of SEC records and SEC titles. For the full event results, click here. Additionally, five different Florida student-athletes were honored Sunday on the final day of the event. Senior Conor Dwyer won SEC Male Swimmer of the Year and Commissioner’s Trophy (High Point Award) honors, youngsters Elizabeth Beisel and Marcin Cieslak each won Freshman Swimmer of the Year for their respective genders, Monica Dodson was named SEC Female Diver of the Year and Donnie Craine was named the SEC Women’s Diving Coach of the Year.

5 » While all of this was going on, No. 2 Gators women’s tennis (10-1)was making waves at the 2011 ITA National Team Indoor Championships Florida advanced to the semifinals on Saturday by shutting out the No. 12 Clemson Tigers 4-0 and went on to the finals after defeating the No. 6 Duke Blue Devils 4-1 on Sunday. However, shades of the 2010 NCAA National Championship washed over the Gators on Monday, as the ladies once again fell to the No. 1 Stanford Cardinal (11-0) 4-2, losing out on another opportunity for a title. The No. 1 doubles pairing of sophomore Allie Will and freshman Sofie Oyen dropped their match; each player also lost in singles competition. The No. 30 duo of sophomore Lauren Embree and junior Joanna Mather did their part with an 8-2 doubles victory; No. 36 Embree would also win her singles match, but No. 19 Mather fell in her opportunity. The season is only halfway done for the ladies, however, as a rivalry match with Florida State, the SEC slate and the NCAA Tournament await them.

6 » No. 10 men’s tennis (7-3) did not fair any better at the end of the ITA Indoors over the weekend, dropping a quarterfinals match 4-1 to No. 15 Duke and losing a consolation contest 4-3 to the No. 6 UCLA Bruins. Florida’s top men’s player, No. 9 senior Alexandre Lacroix, won his singles match against the Blue Devils but lost in two sets against the Bruins; as a No. 15 duo with junior Nassim Slilam, the pair lost back-to-back matches. SEC competition begins for the men on March 4.

Extra BIT » Tennis may have struggled, but No. 1 Gators gymnastics (11-0, 5-0 SEC) finished the weekend strong with a decisive 196.875-195.225 victory over (primarily) the West Virginia Mountaineers (8-5) on Sunday. Florida freshman Mackenzie Caquatto won the uneven bars (9.925) and balance beam (9.975) titles, while sophomores Ashanée Dickerson and Marissa King split the floor exercise with 9.875 each. UF only has two more regular season match-ups before participating in the SEC and NCAA Championships in March and April, respectively.

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