Florida baseball sweeps Alabama; Bruder helps Gators softball top Crimson Tide (twice)

Each competing against the Alabama Crimson Tide in Gainesville, FL over the weekend, the Florida Gators baseball and softball teams combined to defeat their opponent five of six times – all in exciting fashion. No. 5/5 Florida baseball outscored Alabama 18-3 over a three-day span, while No. 8/9 Gators softball won back-to-back games against the Crimson Tide after being shutout in the series opener.

BASEBALL

Coming off a tough road loss to Central Florida where head coach Kevin O’Sullivan emptied the bullpen, Florida upended Alabama 7-0 in the first game of the weekend series on Friday. Sophomore right-handed pitcher Hudson Randall (7-1) continued to pitch with confidence, scattering four hits in 6.1 innings for the victory. After manufacturing a single run in the third inning, the Gators rallied to score a total of six in three consecutive innings. Junior first baseman Preston Tucker (1-5, HR, 3 RBI, R) and senior second baseman Josh Adams (1-4, HR, 3 RBI, R) hit a pair of homers, while sophomore shortstop Nolan Fontana (3-5, RBI) couldn’t be kept off the bases. Florida amassed 14 hits in the game and saw seven different players cross the plate.

Sophomore left-handed pitcher Brian Johnson (6-1) got the call for the Gators on Saturday and, after allowing a single run in the first and solo shot in the top of the second, held the Crimson Tide scoreless for his final three innings to pick up the win. Junior RHP Greg Larson, sophomore LHP Steven Rodriguez and freshman RHP Keenan Kish combined to strike out six over the final four innings of the contest to solidify anther victory for Florida. The offense did their part to make Johnson feel comfortable early, rallying for pairs of runs in their first two frames to negate Alabama’s production. Sophomore catcher Mike Zunino (2-4, HR, 4 RBI, 2 R) and junior pinch hitter Ben McMahan (1-1, HR, RBI, R) each hit homers and Adams (1-3, 2 RBI) continued his hot streak at the plate.

The Gators (31-10, 14-4 SEC) completed the weekend sweep by squeaking out a 2-1 victory over the Crimson Tide (25-18, 8-10 SEC) on Sunday. Freshman RHP Karsten Whitson(5-0) looked fantastic, striking out seven and only giving up three hits over 6.2 innings. Whitson held Alabama without a single run until his finally batter capitalized with two men on base to smack an RBI. He was promptly pulled for Rodriguez who, along with juniors RHP Anthony DeSclafani and LHP Nick Maronde (S2), closed out the victory for Florida. Fontana (3-4, 2 RBI) knocked in both runs, hitting a double to score junior right fielder Daniel Pigott (1-3, R) in the third and a single to help junior left fielder Tyler Thompson (1-2, R) cross the plate in the fifth.

With the three victories, the Gators have now defeated the Crimson Tide in eight of their last 10 meetings and can look ahead to a home series against Ole Miss next weekend.

SOFTBALL

Still fighting her way back from an arm injury, senior ace RHP Stephanie Brombacher (15-1) drew the start Friday but coughed up two runs (one earned) after tossing three shutout innings for her first loss of the season. Freshman RHP Hannah Rogers, who had been handling the pitching duties in Brombacher’s stead, was roughed up in her four innings as well, striking out six but allowing three earned runs on three hits and three walks. Alabama starter Kelsi Dunne (21-2) looked strong in the effort, limiting Florida to only three hits in seven innings while striking out six.

Not allowing themselves to get down after such a tough loss, the Gators responded in a big way in the next two games, ending both with exciting finishes. Senior LF Kelsey Bruder, who has been nearly unstoppable at the plate recently, hit a walk-off three-run home run on Saturday followed by a walk-off infield single on Sunday (in extra innings) to send her team to two victories.

Brombacher got the call again Saturday, pitching 6.1 innings and striking out four but also allowing four earned runs. The Gators were faced with a 2-0 deficit early but rallied with back-to-back homers by senior 1B Megan Bush (1-2, HR, 2 RBI, R) and senior catcher Tiffany DeFelice (1-2, HR, RBI, R) in the fourth inning to take a 3-2 lead. Brombacher allowed a solo shot in the fifth to tie the game and gave up a two-run bomb in the seventh to put the Crimson Tide ahead 5-3 before Rogers came in to get the final two outs. Florida benefited with a lead-off walk in the bottom of the inning, and junior center fielder Michelle Moultrie (1-2, R, 2 BB) followed with a single through the right side to put the game-winning run at the plate. With one out, Bruder (2-4, HR, 3 RBI, R) hammered the first pitch she saw to pick up the win (see video below).

Bruder’s weekend heroics were not done, however, as she came through in the clutch once again on Sunday. Rogers and Dunne each pitched fantastic games on the day, holding shutouts through regulation. A fielding error in the top of the eighth allowed two Alabama batters to score, but Florida rallied to tack on two runs (including a RBI by Bruder) in the bottom of the inning to keep the game going. After Rogers (25-5) retired the side one-two-three in the top of the ninth to complete the longest outing of her career, Bruder (2-5, 2 RBI) found herself back at the plate with the winning run in scoring position. On a 1-0 count, she smacked a single to second base to score freshman SS Cheyenne Coyle (1-4, R) from third and give the Gators (40-8, 15-7 SEC) an impressive extra innings victory over the Crimson Tide (42-7, 16-6 SEC).

Florida will get a week of rest before jumping on the road to face South Carolina in a three-game weekend series. The Gators will then play four-straight home games to end the regular season the following week.

Report: Gators Martin, Johnson also cited for marijuana possession in January

Senior cornerback Janoris Jenkins’s two arrests for marijuana possession made headlines this spring, but two other Florida Gators defenders were also picked up on a similar charge, according to a report by the Palm Beach Post.

Redshirt freshman linebacker Chris Martin and redshirt sophomore defensive end Kendric Johnson were each cited with misdemeanors when officers from the Gainesville Police Department found them in their respective vehicles with approximately two grams of marijuana on separate occasions.

According to the Post, Martin was arrested on Jan. 29 when officers “detected the scent of the drug coming from [his] vehicle.” He complied with their request and turned over the cannabis in his possession. Johnson was picked up earlier in the month on Jan. 9 for speeding and the situation unfolded in a similar manner.

Both Martin and Johnson were offered and accepted deferred prosecution by the state and will likely have an opportunity to clear themselves of charges by paying fines and completing community service.

This information comes just one day after Jenkins was arrested for marijuana possession for the second time in under 90 days. Neither head coach Will Muschamp nor a University of Florida spokesperson has commented on any of the three arrests.

Gators tennis wins two SEC titles on Sunday

Easter Sunday was a day of celebration for the Florida Gators tennis program as both the men’s and women’s teams won a 2011 Southeastern Conference Championship after fighting their way through their respective tournaments.

The No. 17 and five-seed men’s team (18-8) defeated the No. 11 and three-seed Kentucky Wildcats (26-8) 4-0 in the tournament final at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex in Gainesville, FL. The victory is Florida’s fourth men’s tournament victory (1994, 2000, 2005) in seven opportunities.

Senior Alexandre Lacroix, junior Nassim Slilam, sophomore Sekou Bangoura, Jr., sophomore Bob van Overbeek, sophomore Billy Federhofer and freshman Andrew Butz all saw victories on Sunday. The duos of Slilam/Federhofer and van Overbeek/Butz both won their matches; van Overbeek, No. 44 Bangoura and No. 93 Slilam also captured singles victories. No. 8 Lacroix came out of the tournament with Most Valuable Player honors and was named to the All-Tournament Team along with Slilam.

The No. 2 and one-seed women’s team (25-1) won its 17th SEC Tournament title in the 24-years it has existed, defeating the No. 14 and two-seed Tennessee Volunteers (17-4) 4-0 at Barksdale Stadium in Knoxville, TN.

Sophomore Allie Will, junior Joanna Mather, freshmen Alex Cercone and freshman Olivia Janowicz collected victories to fuel the Gators’ shutout. The duos of No. 9 Will/Cercone and Mather/Janowicz won their matches; No. 6 Will, No. 50 Janowicz and No. 51 Cercone were also victorious in singles competition.

Will was named the MVP and, along with Janowicz, picked for the All-Tournament Team.

The victories Sunday mark the 11th and 12th conference titles won by the University of Florida in 2010-11. It is the third time in school history that both programs won the SEC Tournament in the same season (2000, 2005).

Jenkins arrested again for marijuana possession

For the third time in 23 months, Florida Gators cornerback Janoris Jenkins has been arrested. It is his second arrest for possession of marijuana in just under 90 days.

According to a release from the Gainesville Police Department obtained by the Florida Times-Union, Jenkins was caught smoking a marijuana “cigar” in his car in a parking lot at 12:35 a.m. Saturday. He was issued a notice to appear in court on May 12 for possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana.

Jenkins was similarly cited on Jan. 23 when an officer spotted him rolling a joint in a nightclub bathroom. After appearing in court on Mar. 18, he was ordered to pay $316 in court fees and had adjudication withheld.

He was previously arrested in May 2009 on misdemeanor charges of affray and resisting arrest without violence. Jenkins said at the time that he was acting in self-defense and was only trying to protect himself during a group altercation in which someone he did not know attempted to steal his necklace.

The State Attorney’s Office dropped the affray charge because there were not enough facts for it to have been applicable. They instead offered him a deferred prosecution agreement, which he agreed to sign. The terms of the agreement included Jenkins staying out of trouble for six months, paying $50 in court fees and either donating $150 to a charity or performing 15 hours of community service. His record has since been cleared of the charge because he fulfilled the demands of the agreement.

Jenkins recently decided to return to Florida for his senior season rather than declare for the 2011 NFL Draft. He would have likely been a first-round selection.

The University of Florida has not yet commented on Jenkins’s arrest.

Photo Credit: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Tebow discusses Meyer pulling him to Florida

In an interview with 790 The Zone in Atlanta, GA, Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow discussed a variety of topics including how he manages his many responsibilities, his thoughts about his statue outside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium and how he is finding a silver lining in the current NFL lockout situation.

Tebow also dove into more detail on his decision to attend Florida instead of Alabama, where then-head coach Mike Shula had almost solidified his commitment. In addition to all of the other factors, Tebow explained how former Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer ended up getting him to change his mind.

“It was very close. I mean, down to the very last second I had no idea where I was going to go and it was between two great schools. My whole high school career, I thought I was going to Alabama because Urban wasn’t at Florida at that time, and they had Coach Shula — I loved him, I respected him as family, I loved the passion Alabama fans had for the game. That was something, you watch me play, I love it, I’m passionate about it, and seeing those fans, I loved it, I was in to it. And they had great players and I had become friends with a lot of their players, so most of my high school career I honestly thought I was going to Alabama.

“Then this guy named Urban Meyer got the job at Florida, and he worked harder than any coach at single handedly trying to recruit for a year and a half. And at the end I bought into it, I believed him. You could see something about this guy in his eyes – that fire, that passion – that he’s something special, that he’s going to do something special. And I believed I could lead his team to do something extremely special. And I believed that. At the end of the day, that’s why I went to Florida. It wasn’t because it was close to home, it wasn’t because of the spread offense, it was because I believed in the man Urban Meyer.”

You can read the entire interview here, courtesy of the good folks at SportsRadioInterviews.com or listen to it by playing the file below.

Tim Tebow on 790 The Zone

Photo Credit: John Raoux/Associated Press

TWO BITS: Dunkley to USF? Dunlap back at UF.

1 » Redshirt freshman wide receiver Chris Dunkley, who agreed to part ways with the Florida Gators and transfer to another school, is strongly considering – and possibly favoring – the South Florida Bulls as his destination. The St. Petersburg Times spoke with Dunkley’s Pahokee High School coach Blaze Thompson, who indicated that was the case. “I think USF is the top one on his list,” he said. “A lot of schools have expressed interest in him, but USF Is the only one he has actually visited. They’re interested in him, and he has asked me to look into them as well.” Dunkley was suspended from team activities due to his academics at the time he decided to transfer from Florida; however, the Times reports that they will be high enough for him to earn a scholarship at another school. South Florida seems like a likely landing spot for him due to their penchant for accepting big-name transfers and location relatively close to home.

2 » Former Gators defensive end Carlos Dunlap, now playing for the Cincinnati Bengals, has been back in Gainesville, FL this spring trying to finish his degree at the University of Florida. A top NFL prospect going into his junior year, Dunlap’s stock plummeted after he was arrested for driving under the influence and suspended for the Southeastern Conference Championship game that year. InsideTheGators.com‘s Kyle Maistri caught up with Dunlap, who has made it his goal to fulfill the promise he made to his family (getting his degree) while trying to make a better name for himself.

“Initially, I wanted to come back and clear my name,” Dunlap said of possibly returning for his senior season. “I wanted to come back and get my degree as well as clear up my name, but after talking with my core group and talking with various friends of the family, we came to a consensus that it was the best decision to leave now. And I’m happy I did when I did.” Now that he’s back? “I’ve got mixed results [from fans],” he said. “The fans are going to have their various opinions as fans, that’s a situation that I’ve put behind me. Everything happens for a reason, and I believe the final outcome will display a true person’s character. You don’t know someone until you meet them in person, but everyone knows what happens. And it happens to the best of us.”

Coach Muschamp goes through ESPN’s car wash

Just hours after completing his first Gator Gathering in Lakeland, FL, Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp traveled to Bristol, CT and was put through ESPN‘s self-named car wash – appearing on nearly a dozen of the network’s media platforms over the course of one business day. OGGOA followed Muschamp’s media appearances throughout the day and has put together the following recap:

He started the morning on the set of SportsCenter, where anchor Josh Elliot interviewed him about becoming a head coach and taking over the Florida program.

Then Muschamp headed over to First Take on ESPN2 where host Jay Crawford covered a wide variety of topics with him.

Read, view and listen to the rest of his day in Bristol…after the break!
Continue Reading » Coach Muschamp goes through ESPN’s car wash

Muschamp gathers Gators fans in Lakeland

Making the first stop on his state-wide tour of Gator Clubs, Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp arrived at the Gator Gathering in Lakeland, FL on Wednesday to much fanfare and excitement. He spent the evening giving a speech and answering questions about the team, meeting fans and signing autographs. Though OGGOA was not on-site for the event (we will be for one next week), some newsworthy notes were uncovered courtesy of a few reporters who were on hand.

» On redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley’s performance in the spring game: “I was standing behind him. With that front, there wasn’t a whole lot of blocking going on. I called a couple of them look-out blocks. When that ball was snapped they turned around and say, ‘look out’ because it was coming quick. The quarterback position is kind of like the old head coach — you get way too much credit when things go right and way too much credit when things go wrong.” (LL)

» Sophomore Gerald Christian, who committed to Florida as a tight end but was moved to linebacker this spring while still taking offensive snaps, will have his assignments switched again. Muschamp said Christian will play tight end and fullback while taking some snaps on defense, opposite of what the initial plan for him.

» On wide receivers coach Aubrey Hill coming back to Florida: “He called me more than I called him. He wanted to get out of Miami. I don’t blame him.” (PBP)

» On closing practices: “I know as a coach preparing for a team when there’s uncertainty; it’s very frustrating. With our age of technology and the Internet stuff, a guy can walk out to practice with a pen and film practice right now.” (LL)

» Kicker Caleb Sturgis has been granted an additional year of eligibility by the NCAA after sitting out most of 2010 with back injuries.

» On playing against Georgia, his alma mater: “I know we need to win. They’re all big. […] I’m not going to treat any game any different than any other one. I think when you do that you start to have fluctuation how you play and how you approach.” (LL)

» Junior running back Mike Gillislee “is going to be fine” after hurting his foot in the spring. “Matter of fact, he’s out back running now,” Muschamp said. (LL)

» On redshirt sophomore Jonotthan Harrison moving to center: “He brings an element of toughness to our football team.” (LL)

» Senior cornerback Janoris Jenkins (torn labrum) will be a “full go” for summer.

» Florida will not place any restrictions on where WR Chris Dunkley can transfer. “You go through this, and things come up. We have a certain standard that we want our players to uphold to. Chris and I met after spring practice and we just felt like it was best for him to look at another opportunity. He’s excited about another opportunity, and that’s the direction we decided to go. We’re helping him and trying to advise him. We appreciate his time at Florida. We’ll help him go wherever he wants to go.” (PBP)

Hat-tips: LL – Lakeland Ledger; PBP – Palm Beach Post
Photo Credit: Erica Brough/Gainesville Sun

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