FOUR BITS: Florida tennis falls, lacrosse reigns, softball triumphs, gymnastics sets the tone

1 » No. 2 Florida Gators women’s tennis (3-1) lost its first match in more than a year as the No. 4 Duke Blue Devils (7-1) snapped the visitors’ 25-match winning streak (which dated back to Feb. 12, 2012) with a 4-0 sweep on Sunday in Durham, NC. Though the duo of senior Lauren Embree and junior Sofie Oyen took down Duke’s No. 7-ranked team of Mary Clayton and Ester Goldfeld 8-4, Florida eventually lost the doubles point when junior Alex Cercone/freshman Brianna Morgan lost a 6-4 lead and fell 7-6(7-3) in the third doubles match. The Gators responded by winning the first set on five-of-six singles courts. However, No. 9 Oyen was upset by No. 45 Goldfeld (6-4, 7-5) to put the Blue Devils up 3-0 and Duke picked up one additional singles win despite UF leading in all three of the matches that did not finish. Florida, which was pushed out of the top national ranking at the start of the week by new No. 1 North Carolina, will be in Chapel Hill, NC to face UNC on Monday at 2 p.m.

2 » No. 3 Gators lacrosse (3-0) has won its first three matches of the season for the first time in program history after taking down the High Point Panthers (1-1) on Sunday in High Point, NC. Florida, which picked up a 13-7 victory, was led by three goals apiece from sophomore midfielder Shannon Gilroy and senior attacker Caroline Chesterman. Senior A Kitty Cullen and sophomore M Nicole Graziano added two goals each. UF will host Stony Brook in the program’s home opener on Wednesday.

3 » No. 5 Gators softball (12-0) spent its first weekend of the 2013 season plowing through opponents out west in the Kajikawa Classic. One weekend later, the location changed but the game play remained the same as Florida trounced its competition in the Lipton Invitational at the friendly confines of Pressly Softball Stadium in Gainesville, FL. The Gators outscored their opponents by a combined 54-4 over six games in a three-day span. Florida beat the UNC-Wilmington Seahawks 10-0 on Friday and 9-1 on Sunday, shutout the Savannah State Tigers 12-0 on Friday and 14-0 on Sunday, took down the Western Carolina Catamounts 5-0 on Saturday, and squeaked past the Charleston Southern Buccaneers 4-3 on Sunday in an extra-inning affair.

Four Florida players led the way offensively with sophomore first baseman Lauren Haeger (7/15, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 4 R, 3 BB) at the top of the pack. Also making big contributions were sophomore outfielder Jessica Damico (4/11, HR, 5 RBI, 5 R, 3 BB, SB), freshman second baseman Kelsey Stewart (8/20, HR, 4 RBI, 6 R, 3 BB, 7 SB) and freshman OF Kirsti Merritt (4/9, HR, 5 RBI, 6 R, 3 BB, 2 SB – four games). A solo homer by Haeger in the bottom of the seventh on Sunday against Charleston Southern sent the game into extra innings, and Damico ended the contest in the bottom of the eighth as she tripled to score the final run of the game. Each of UF’s pitchers picked up a pair of wins over the weekend including Haeger (4-0, 11.0 IP, 5 H, ER, 2 BB, HBP, 15 K), sophomore right-handeder Alyssa Bache (3-0, 10.0 IP, 3 H, BB, 14 K) and junior RHP Hannah Rogers (4-0, 15.0 IP, 9 H, ER [3 R], 5 BB, 13 K).

4 » No. 1 Gators gymnastics (6-1, 5-1 SEC) once again proved why it is being labeled as the best team in the country as it came from behind to take down the No. 9 Georgia Gym Dogs (5-5-1, 3-1-1 SEC) on Saturday afternoon in front of a sold-out crowd of 9,971 at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, GA. Florida ousted Georgia 197.30-196.175 despite losing two team events (vault, uneven bars) and barely winning the floor exercise. A strong performance on the balance beam gave the Gators a significant 49.300-48.125 advantage over the GymDogs in the event, catapulting them to victory. Freshman Bridget Sloan picked up her third-straight all-around title with a 39.60 and also won bars with a 9.95.

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FOUR BITS: Toledo injured, baseball falls & more

1 » No. 6/7 Florida Gators baseball (11-3) was unsuccessful at completing a sweep of the Charleston Southern Buccaneers (6-10) over the weekend, falling 6-3 on Sunday at McKethan Stadium. CSU starter Tyler Thornburg (3-1) tossed a complete game with a career-high 11 strikeouts to put a halt to Florida’s five-game winning streak. Redshirt sophomore starter Tommy Toledo (2-1) left the game in the top of the fourth inning after a line drive from Buccaneers’ first baseman Derek Smith hit him square in the face. Toledo broke numerous facial bones for which he is undergoing surgery.

2 » After splitting a doubleheader, No. 4/11 Florida softball (18-3, 2-1 SEC) picked up the rubber match with a 5-3 win over the Ole Miss Rebels (16-10, 3-2 SEC) on Sunday at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium. Junior Stephanie Brombacher (14-3) picked up the win with five strikeouts over five innings, and junior first baseman Megan Bush led the Gators going 2-2 with a run and three RBI. Freshman Ensley Gammel earned her first career save, and junior second baseman Aja Pachulba went 2-4 with two RBI.

3 » No. 7 men’s tennis (12-2, 4-0 SEC) and No. 5 women’s tennis (14-2, 4-0 SEC) were both victorious Sunday against the Alabama Crimson Tide (7-8, 1-3 SEC) and (6-7, 0-4 SEC), defeating them respectively 6-1 at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex and 4-0 on the road at the University of Alabama Tennis Stadium. The No. 16-ranked men’s doubles pair of redshirt senior Antoine Benneteau and Alexandre Lacroix continued their great season with an 8-3 win, and No. 6 Lacroix won his singles match 6-5, 5-6, 3-3 (ret.). On the women’s side, the No. 6 duo of senior Marrit Boonstra and freshman Allie Will won 9-7, while No. 11 Will (6-0, 6-1) and No. 15-ranked freshman Lauren Embree (6-2, 6-2) cruised to singles victories.

4 » Gators soccer announced Monday that 11 players have committed to the program for the 2010 fall season. For a full list of the commitments, you can visit GatorZone.

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FOUR BITS: Meyer, baseball, softball, lacrosse

1 » Participating in a charity golf tournament over the weekend for former Florida Gators fullback Darryl Perry, head coach Urban Meyer left a strong impression on his colleagues about his health and his thoughts on the future of his former quarterback, Tim Tebow. “I feel good and I’m ready to go,” Meyer told Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel about his health. As to Tebow: “I think there’s too much emphasis on [workouts and the combine],” he said. “Think about it: he’s the leading passer in the history of SEC, won 22-straight games and has won two national titles and the Heisman [Trophy], and some people are saying, ‘I wonder if he can play in the pros.’” For what it’s worth, former Gators defensive end Jack Youngblood (a friend of Meyer’s) added his feelings on the coach’s health. “Urban can’t wait to get back out there and coach,” he said.

2 » In the second game of a three-game weekend series. No. 6/7 Florida baseball (11-2) defeated the Charleston Southern Buccaneers 16-10 on Saturday afternoon at McKethan Stadium. The Gators powered their way to a six-run sixth inning, which led them to victory. Sophomore first baseman Preston Tucker (3-6, two runs) earned a season-high five RBI, freshman designated hitter Austin Maddox was 4-6 with two runs, junior third baseman Bryson Smith (2-4) nabbed two RBI and three runs and freshman catcher Mike Zunino (1-4) drove in a career-high four runs. In relief, sophomore Justin Poovey (1-0) allowed only one run over 2.1 innings for the victory, and senior Jeff Barfield tossed two scoreless innings for the save.

3 » Looking to make an impact in its first Southeastern Conference doubleheader of the season, the No. 4/11 Gators softball team (17-3, 1-1 SEC) split a series with the Ole Miss Rebels (16-9, 3-1 SEC) at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium. In the first game, Florida earned a 12-2 victory in five innings before falling 6-4 in an eight-inning second game. Junior catcher Tiffany DeFelice (4-5) led the team with four RBI, three runs, a home run and two walks in the series. The Gators picked up their first home loss in quite some time (27 straight wins), as junior starter Stephanie Brombacher (13-3) earned a win and a loss in each respective game. She totaled nine strikeouts.

4 » Still looking to gain footing in their inaugural season, Florida lacrosse (3-3, 0-1 ALC) fell to Johns Hopkins (4-3, 1-0 ALC) on the road in their first conference game. Freshman midfielder Kitty Cullen scored three goals in the contest. The Gators return to Gainesville, FL, for a three-game homestand beginning Wednesday against Marist.

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FOUR BITS: Baseball, tennis win; golf leads; track

1 » No. 6/7 Florida Gators baseball (10-2) began its series against the Charleston Southern Buccaneers (5-9) with a 6-0 win Friday night at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville, FL. Sophomore starter Alex Panteliodis (4-0) tossed a career-high seven innings, striking out five in the outing. Florida notched consecutive shutout victories for the first time since 1995. A five-run second inning was highlighted by back-to-back two-out home runs by freshman catcher Mike Zunino (3-3, two RBI) and senior outfielder Matt den Dekker. Florida has decided to add a game against Army to its schedule on Monday, March 15 at 6:30 p.m.

2 » No. 3 women’s and No. 4 men’s track and field combined for five All-America honors on the first day of the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships on Friday. The men are in second-place (four points off the lead), while the women are in 14th. Four qualifying marks/times were achieved by the men, including freshman sprinter and sophomore running back Jeff Demps, who achieved a school-record time of 6.56 seconds in the 60-meter dash.

Two more BITS on tennis’ two wins and men’s golf’s lead…after the jump!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Baseball, tennis win; golf leads; track

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