Wambach featured in This Is SportsCenter spot

Former Florida Gators soccer player Abby Wambach – an Olympic gold medalist, three-time U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year and member of the 2011 U.S. Women’s National Team set to compete at the 2011 Women’s World Cup beginning June 26 in Germany – is featured in ESPN’s latest “This Is SportsCenter” commercial. Check out the video featuring the third highest scorer in U.S. history below:

Wambach was also recently profiled by the Associated Press, noting the one thing missing from her extensive resume is a World Cup win. “You can score all the goals you want, you can win all the awards you want, and they might look pretty on your bookshelf when you retire. But the prettiest medals are the ones for the championships that you’ve won,” Wambach said. “I guarantee you [Brazil star] Marta probably would trade in every player of the year award she had for a world championship, and I’m the same way.”

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TWO BITS: Rainey robbed, Baker in CFL?

1 » The residence shared by Florida Gators redshirt seniors running back Chris Rainey and cornerback Moses Jenkins was burglarized Sunday morning, and both players had expensive items missing upon returning. According to The Gainesville Sun, Rainey’s BCS National Championship Ring was the most prominent item stolen; however, also taken when the house was “ransacked” were a television, PlayStation gaming system, Gucci duffel bag and 10 pairs of Jenkins’s shoes.

2 » Former Florida wide receiver Dallas Baker has found his way to the Canadian Football League and is currently taking part in workouts with the Montreal Alouettes. Though he is not officially on the roster yet, Baker is hoping to make an impression during the team’s exhibition finale on Wednesday and play in the CFL next year. “I feel like my career’s on the line,” Baker told the Montreal Gazette. “I have to go out and do all the details – catch every pass, complete my blocking assignments and give 110 percent every play. Even without the injury you have something to prove every day. No one remembers what you did on your last play. To me, every day is like a job interview.”

The former Pittsburgh Steelers pass catcher just wants a chance to prove he can play, even if it is not in the United States on the big stage of the NFL. “We all have dreams of being a star in the NFL and are prepared to do what it takes,” Baker said. “But I could have played 10 more years on special teams in the NFL and never made a catch, and I would have been able to sleep at night.”

SIX BITS: Young, Muschamp, Meyer, Ogbueze

1 » Florida Gators sophomore center Patric Young was announced Sunday as one of 13 players to earn a spot on the 2011 USA Basketball Men’s U19 World Championship Team. Following a two-day tryout in Colorado Springs, CO led in part by Florida head coach Billy Donovan, Young was picked as a finalist for the team while sophomore point guard Scottie Wilbekin was cut. Young will now take part in the 2011 FIBA U19 World Championship in Latvia over the next few weeks.

While in Colorado Springs, Young was profiled by USA Basketball’s website and spoke about the trials and tribulations he faced during his freshman season. “There was definitely a dark period,” he said. “It was definitely a distraction. I was buying into how good people kept telling me I was and could be and let them influence the type of player I should be and my expectations for myself. I definitely let it all get to my head, and it wasn’t helping me.” Young praised Donovan for helping him clear his head and concentrate on the game. “Because of Coach Donovan, I just don’t listen to the other things anymore,” he added. “I feel like I have a lot of potential, but there’s a lot of room left to grow. I think I’m alright and I could be a good player, but when I do something that no one has ever done before, that’s when I’ll consider myself a great player. […] He’s one of the smartest guys I’ve ever met, definitely the best coach I’ve ever had in my life. He’s helped me grow on the court and learn the game in a while new way. I really wouldn’t be anything without him. After just one year with him at Florida, I thought to myself, ‘What have I been doing my whole life?’ It’s amazing how much he taught me in one year.”

2 » University of Florida senior writer Scott Carter sat down with Gators head football coach Will Muschamp’s father Larry Muschamp for a feature about their relationship, growing up in Gainesville, FL and what if anything he passed on to him coaching-wise. “I’ve given him more advice than I should have,” Larry said. “We were just close and football was one of the things that held us together. Will is a driver. He is driven and that’s just the way he is. I don’t think I was ever driven that much and I loved coaching. I loved it tremendously, but I was not as dedicated as Will.” Read the rest of Carter’s story.

3 » No longer confined by the rigors of coaching, former Florida head coach Urban Meyer got the opportunity to relax on the lake this Father’s Day. Here is a picture taken by his daughter, Gigi Meyer, of her father wakeboarding:

4 » Gators sophomore right-handed pitcher/designated hitter Brian Johnson should have had the second home run in TD Ameritrade Park history on Saturday. Instead, his three-run shot to right-center field was ruled a two-RBI double after umpires decided that it had hit the top of the wall. Late Saturday, NCAA umpiring coordinator Gene McArtor acknowledged the blown call, which was clearly a home run on television instant replay. “The batted ball … was mistakenly ruled in play rather than a home run,” he said, noting that video replay is not allowed in NCAA rules.

5 » Florida four-star 2012 point guard commit Braxton Ogbueze (Charlotte, NC) competed in the NBPA Top 100 camp this past week and drew rave reviews from many of those who got a chance to watch him. Eric Bossi of Rivals.com wrote the following about him Sunday: “A natural scorer at heart, the future Florida Gator sacrificed some of his offense to run his team. He was effective in pick and roll, made good decisions and played much more under control than he had earlier in the spring.”

6 » Speaking with his hometown paper, the Charlotte Observer, Ogbueze opened up a bit more about his decision to commit to the Gators. “I always believed you need to go where you are wanted the most,” he said. “To me, it felt like Florida wanted me the most. And you can never go wrong with whoever wants you the most. […] I thought playing under Billy Donovan would be a great fit for me because he was also a successful point guard at the highest level in the Big East at Providence. I think I can learn from him.”

Gators open CWS by defeating Longhorns 8-4

Though power has been their trademark all season long, the No. 2 Florida Gators beat the No. 7 Texas Longhorns at their own game Saturday, using a combination of strong pitching and clutch hitting to win the second game ever played at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, NE. The Gators (51-17) came back from a three-run deficit to beat the Longhorns (49-18) 8-4 and advance to the winner’s bracket of the 2011 College World Series.

Texas took advantage of consecutive errors by Florida to get on the board first in the third inning. Sophomore shortstop Nolan Fontana and junior first baseman Preston Tucker allowed the first two batters on after bobbling easy outs, and the Longhorns utilized a RBI single and two sacrifice flies to score a trio of unearned runs and take an early 3-0 lead.

The Gators got a similar opportunity in the bottom frame, starting off with consecutive walks. A single to right by senior center fielder Bryson Smith and a passed ball with Tucker at the plate scored freshman third baseman Cody Dent and Fontana (0-5, R), respectively, reducing UT’s advantage to a single run.

Drawing a two-out walk one inning later, sophomore left fielder Tyler Thompson moved to second on a wild pitch and scored as junior right fielder Daniel Pigott hit a double to deep right. Pigott (2-3, RBI, R, BB) was rewarded by Dent (1-3, RBI, R, BB), who smacked another two-out double down the left field line to put Florida ahead 4-3.

Smith again got things rolling for the Gators in the fifth, taking first base after getting hit by a pitch. Tucker powered a gapper to deep right-center to plate him and give his team a 5-3 lead, but not before forcing Texas starter Taylor Jungmann into his shortest outing of the season. Jungmann (13-3) left after allowing five runs (four earned) on three hits with four walks, a hit batter and a pair of wild pitches while striking out three.

Sophomore left-handed pitcher Hudson Randall (11-3), who started on the hill for Florida, was terrific throughout the evening, tossing four 1-2-3 innings (including three in a row) and retiring 13 consecutive batters at one point. He was pulled after allowing a RBI double to left in the seventh, finishing the contest having given up four runs (one earned) on five hits with five strikeouts and no walks in 6.2 innings.

The Gators answered the Longhorns immediately in the seventh. Smith walked with one out and advanced to second after Tucker (1-4, RBI, R) ran through an infield single hit after the pitcher balked. With two outs, sophomore designated hitter Brian Johnson (1-4, 2 RBI) hit what should have been a three-run homer to right-center but was instead ruled a two-RBI double off the top of the wall due to the inability to utilize instant replay.

Florida would end up earning that run the next inning when, with runners on first and second, Smith (2-2, 2 RBI, 2 R, 2 BB) hit a liner to center to score Thompson (1-3, 2 R, BB) and give the Gators an 8-4 lead.

Junior right-handed pitcher Greg Larson struck out the only batter he faced in the seventh, and junior left-handed pitcher Nick Maronde came on to toss the final two innings of the contest, striking out three batters without allowing a single hit.

With the victory, Florida improves to 41-3 this season when out-hitting their opponent, 44-2 when scoring four or more runs and 44-0 when leading after seven innings. The Gators’ 51st victory of the year ties a single-season record.

UF will face No. 6 Vanderbilt (53-10) in the winner’s bracket on Monday at 7 p.m. The game will air live on ESPN2 and ESPN3.com. Florida is 3-1 against their Southeastern Conference Eastern division rival in 2011 with all four games played away from home.

FOUR BITS: Harvin, LaPorta, Macklin, facilities

1 » Hobbled by migraine headaches throughout his life, Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin believes that – finally – the nagging issue is behind him. “This is the best I’ve felt, probably, since I’ve been in kindergarten,” he told Ed Miller of The Virginian-Pilot. “I met a couple of doctors. There were a couple of things they found in my neck that I won’t get into – some things they found and fixed, along with diet and the rest of the things that can cause them. It’s been great, and knock on wood, it’ll continue.” Harvin, who had a scary episode during practice in Minnesota last year, has visited dozens of doctors and specialists and received even more explanations and treatments the migraines than he can count. He believes it has been five or six months since he last experienced one and hopes this streak continues permanently.

2 » Cleveland Indians first baseman Matt LaPorta, one of the best baseball players ever to wear a Florida Gators uniform, was placed on the 15-day disabled list by the club on Saturday after he severely sprained his ankle on Friday while caught in a rundown. LaPorta is currently hitting .242 with eight homers and 31 RBI.

3 » In an extensive question-and-answer session with Dime Magazine, Florida center Vernon Macklin touches on a number of topics including his workouts leading up to the 2011 NBA Draft, decision to transfer to the Gators, opinion of how he can succeed in the pros, and plans for draft day. Here are a few choice selections from the interview, which can be read in full right here.

Dime: Are you happy with the decision you made to come to Florida for two years after spending your first two at Georgetown?
VM: I’m pretty happy about it. I think Coach (Billy Donovan) took a great risk in taking me, transferring from a school and not playing as much. But I think I went in there and played hard for him for the two years. And I sat out a year, I learned a lot from him and a lot of guys. So I think it was a great fit.

Dime: How did it feel to make such a deep run in the NCAA Tournament?
VM: It was good. I’m happy we made the run. It’s been a while for Florida to be back and playing good basketball. So us making a run to the Elite Eight and being able to compete every single game in the tournament was great for us. It was also great for Coach Donovan and the whole program.

4 » Some more improvements are going to be made to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – both inside and out – in the next two-to-three years. According to The Gainesville Sun’s Nathan Crabble, Florida is looking to upgrade some of the Gators’ facilities in ways that will benefit both student-athletes and fans.

The board also approved a variety of renovation projects, some using $2.8 million in reserves and the rest using $15 million in bonds planned to be issued. Reserves will be spent on projects that include the resurfacing of the Percy Beard Track and the conversion of staff and JV locker rooms in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium to football meeting rooms and a player lounge.

The bonds, which still must be approved by the Florida Board of Governors, would be spent on projects that include renovations to the gymnastics studio in the O’Connell Center and the baseball and softball stadium scoreboards. Renovations would be made to the west concourse of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium that include changes to concession stands and bathrooms, [athletic director Jeremy Foley said.

2011 College World Series: Florida vs. Texas

Event: 2011 NCAA Tournament – College World Series
Location: TD Ameritrade Park – Omaha, NE [Capacity: 24,505]
Time: 7:00 p.m. (ET)

TV: ESPN / ESPNHD
Online Video: ESPN3.com
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

(2) FLORIDA GATORS (7) TEXAS LONGHORNS
Head Coach: Kevin O’Sullivan Head Coach: Augie Garrido
Record: 50-17 Record: 49-17
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Big 12
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

PROJECTED STARTERS

Florida: Sophomore LHP Hudson Randall (10-3, 2.29 ERA)
Texas: Junior RHP Taylor Jungmann (13-2, 1.38 ERA)

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Florida and Texas met in the 2005 CWS Championship Series with the Longhorns sweeping the Gators via back-to-back 4-2 and 6-2 wins to earn the title. That is the only time that UT and UF have every gone head-to-head in baseball until Saturday.
» Florida is one victory away from tying a school record for most in a season.
» The Gators are 38-7 this year when scoring first and 40-3 when outhitting their opponent. Florida is also 34-6 when hitting a home run and 21-5 when playing error-free.
» UF has scored 201 more runs than their opponents this year.
» Florida is 27-0 when holding opponents to two or fewer runs and 36-1 when allowing three runs or less. The Gators are 7-15 when scoring less than three runs and 2-13 when trailing after seven innings.
» UF is 43-2 when scoring four runs or more and 43-0 when leading after seven frames.
» Florida is making its seventh appearance in the CWS and third since 2005. UF has never won a national championship in the sport of baseball.
» The Gators are one of two teams (South Carolina) to play in the final CWS held at Rosenblatt Stadium and compete in the first one at TD Ameritrade Park.
» UF is in the CWS in back-to-back seasons for the first time in school history.
» Texas is the top-ranked team in the Big 12, finishing with a 19-8 record in league play.
» The Longhorns are 13-8 when not playing at home this season.
» UT is the winningest program in college baseball history (based on winning percentage) and has the second-most wins all-time (3,149).
» Texas holds the record for most CWS appearances (34) and most games won (82).
» The Longhorns have won six NCAA baseball titles (1949, 1950, 1975, 2002, 2005) and have appeared in the Championship Series a total of 12 times.
» The Florida and Texas boast different strengths. The Gators lead the Longhorns in batting average (.311-.272), runs scored (435-345), hits (715-580), homers (67-17) and RBI (404-304). However, UT holds advantages in steals (75-56), walks (286-228), ERA (2.27-3.01), saves (23-14), strikeouts (555-504) and batting average against (.196-.245).

INJURY REPORT

Sophomore LHP/DH Brian Johnson (concussion) – Cleared to play
Sophomore 1B/RHP Austin Maddox (foot) – Able to pitch; hitting to be determined

KEEP AN EYE ON…

» Sophomore catcher Mike Zunino…a powerhouse at the plate who leads the team in batting average (.376), hits (92), homers (18), runs (72), slugging (.686)…and strikeouts (47). He also has 66 RBI on the season. Zunino has more home runs (18) this year than the entire Texas team combined (17).
» Junior right fielder Preston Tucker…who is the Gators’ best run producer with 68 RBI on the season. Tucker is hitting .314 with 83 hits, 53 runs, 14 homers and 27 walks.
» Sophomore shortstop Nolan Fontana…arguably the strongest fielder on the team who has also broke out offensively. Fontana, as the team’s leadoff hitter, is hitting .301 with 72 hits, 55 runs, 47 RBI and a team-high 50 walks. He has hit safely in 21-straight games.
» Maddox…who has made 19 relief appearances (24.1 innings) and has compiled a 0.74 ERA with 21 strikeouts and only three walks. He is also the team’s starting first baseman when healthy and is hitting .380 with six homers and 35 RBI.
» Junior reliever Nick Maronde (0-0, 2.03 ERA)…who has made a team-high 33 appearances this season and earned two saves in 40 innings pitched. He has amassed 51 strikeouts against only seven walks this season. Just seven of the 26 hits he has allowed over the course of the year have gone for extra bases.
» Texas freshman third baseman Erich Weiss…who leads his team in batting average (.358), RBI (44), walks (53) and slugging percentage (.532) and has also scored 46 runs in 218 trips to the plate this season.
» Longhorns closer Corey Knebel (3-2, 1.15 ERA)…who has pitched in a team-high 37 games and amassed 19 saves via 60 strikeouts in 54.2 innings.

FOUR BITS: USA Softball, Maddox, Claye, NCAA

1 » Two Florida Gators softball players, junior center fielder Michelle Moultrie and sophomore right fielder Brittany Schutte, were named to the 2011 USA Softball Women’s National Team on Friday. Unfortunately, senior first baseman Megan Bush and freshman shortstop Cheyenne Coyle also competed for positions on the team but were not selected. Team USA will be competing in a number of events over the next five months including the World Cup of Softball VI and XVI Pan American Games.

2 » Reports coming out of Omaha, NE have Florida head baseball coach Kevin O’Sullivan giving sophomore first baseman/closer Austin Maddox (foot) a thumbs up to play with the team during the 2011 College World Series. Maddox has not played since injuring his foot while catching a pop foul on June 3. Should he be a go for the CWS, Maddox will give the Gators a pair of starting two-way players [sophomore left-handed pitcher/designated hitter Brian Johnson (concussion)] who are returning from injury just in time.

3 » Florida junior jumper Will Claye has been named the 2011 USTFCCCA National Field Athlete of the Year, the organization announced on Thursday. A transfer from Oklahoma, Claye won the 2011 NCAA Indoor Championship and 2011 Southeastern Conference Championship in the triple jump as well as another SEC title in the long jump this year alone. He was also named 2011 SEC Outdoor Field Athlete of the Year this season.

4 » The Gators football program self-reported two secondary violations to the SEC and NCAA in January, according to the Orlando Sentinel’s Rachel George, who received the information via a records request. Florida disclosed that one assistant coach responded to a text message from a recruit and another called a recruit twice in one week. The school instituted a mandatory no-contact period from May 1-14 in order to atone for the mistakes. NCAA rules state that coaches cannot text recruits until they sign with the school; additionally, coaches can only call recruits once per week.

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