FOUR BITS: Johnson, Thornqvist, Whitson, Weis

1 » No. 2 Florida Gators baseball’s sophomore left-handed pitcher/designated hitter Brian Johnson will be active for the Super Regionals beginning on Friday. After missing the Gainesville Regional while recovering from a concussion suffered during the 2011 Southeastern Conference Tournament, Johnson feels fine and is raring to go, according to head coach Kevin O’Sullivan, who spoke with reporters after practice on Wednesday. Sophomore first baseman/closer Austin Maddox, who sprained his foot in the first game of the Gainesville Regional, remains day-to-day.

2 » Florida women’s tennis head coach Ronald Thornqvist has been named the 2011 ITA National Coach of the Year. Thornqvist, who coached the No. 2 Gators to the 2011 NCAA Championship in May, led Florida to a 31-1 overall record and helped sophomore Lauren Embree reach the semifinals of the NCAA Individual Championships. This is Thornqvist’s first national coach of the year award.

3 » Florida freshman right-handed pitcher Karsten Whitson was named to the 2011 Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American team, as selected by the Collegiate Baseball newspaper, on Wednesday. Posting an 8-0 record with a 2.42 ERA so far this season, Whitson was one of 20 freshmen starting pitchers who received the honor.

4 » According to The Gainesville Sun, the property purchased by Gators offensive coordinator Charlie Weis is a 10.5-acre estate located in Reddick, FL right near I-75 worth $1.1 million. Currently on the land are a 4,041-square-foot house and 6,336-square-foot horse barn, undoubtedly a selling point for Weis’s wife Maura, an avid horse enthusiast and rider.

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June 5, 2011: Gators dominate on the diamonds

Something special happened for Gator Nation on Sunday. In a 10-hour period from approximately noon until 10 p.m., Florida Gators fans got the opportunity to watch their teams dominate in a fashion not normally seen at this stage of collegiate athletics.

Over the course of three games – two on the softball diamond and one on a baseball field – Florida defeated two of their rivals thrice, outscoring them, out-hustling them and outclassing them in a way possibly never seen before.

No. 4 Gators softball, which went head-to-head with the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide in a pair of win-or-go-home games in the 2011 Women’s College World Series, set numerous event records in a 16-2 dismantling early in the afternoon and added a few more in their 9-2 victory later that evening.

In between, No. 2 Florida baseball took on the Miami Hurricanes in the finals of the Gainesville Regional portion of the 2011 NCAA Tournament. The Gators routed the Canes 11-4 and moved on to host the Super Regionals.

Let’s take a look at what Florida accomplished on Sunday:

- The Gators outscored their opponents by a total margin of 36-8.
- A total of eight home runs were hit with sophomore right fielder Brittany Schutte connecting in both softball games.
- The teams combined for 34 RBI on 32 hits, record 15 walks and stole four bases.
- Pitchers vs. Florida had a combined 12.05 ERA. Alabama’s posted a 14.58 ERA, while Miami’s throwers allowed seven runs in their contest. Crimson Tide ace Kelsi Dunne registered a 36.67 ERA against the Gators, allowing 11 earned runs in 2.1 innings.
- Florida’s starting pitchers combined to allow a total of five earned runs while notching 18 strikeouts. They registered a 2.04 ERA as a group.
- Florida baseball swept their regional, going 3-0.
- Gators softball won their second and third elimination games of the event after defeating No. 7 California one day earlier.

Softball’s records:

- The 11 runs scored in the first inning of their opening game on Sunday were the most in any inning in WCWS history. The previous mark (nine, 2010) was held by UCLA in a victory against UF just one year ago.
- The Gators scored more runs on the Crimson Tide in one inning than they had given up in a single game all season. Their 16 total runs scored (through just three innings) are the most allowed in a single game by UA softball in school history.
- Florida tied the WCWS team record for homers in a game (four).
- The Gators’ 15 RBI are a WCWS single-game record.
- The 41 total runs scored by Florida so far in the WCWS are as many as every other team in the field combined. The total is currently the second-most in WCWS history.
- The Gators advanced to the WCWS Championship Series for the second time in the last three years and will once again face a Pac-10 opponent.
- Senior left fielder Kelsey Bruder set WCWS event record for most runs scored (nine).
- Schutte set UF’s single-season home run record with her 21st & 22nd bombs.

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Florida baseball sweeps Gainesville Regional with 11-4 rout of Miami, will host Super Regional

The Miami Hurricanes hoped to end their drought against No. 2 Florida Gators baseball on Sunday but failed to keep the momentum they had at the end of their game earlier in the day against the Jacksonville Dolphins. In the final game of the Gainesville Regional portion of the 2011 NCAA Tournament at McKethan Stadium, the Gators (48-16) scored early and often, routing the Canes (38-23) 11-4 to advance to the Super Regionals.

Florida got things rolling right out of the gate. Sophomore shortstop Nolan Fontana reached on a single, senior center fielder Bryson Smith followed him with a walk, and junior right fielder Preston Tucker capitalized by hitting a three-run bomb down the right-field line to give the Gators an early 3-0 lead. Miami got out of the inning with three-straight outs but not without first being placed in a decent hole.

After a scoreless second, Florida poured it on in the third by scoring eight runs and coming away up 11-0. With men on first and second and no one out, sophomore catcher Mike Zunino bunted to advance the runners; however, Smith would score from third on a throwing error from the catcher to the third baseman, which allowed Zunino to reach base. Junior left fielder Tyler Thompson then singled up the middle, scoring Zunino (0-3, R, BB) and Tucker; he would advance to second on the throw home.

Junior designated hitter Daniel Pigott (1-5, RBI, R) doubled to left center to plate Thompson (1-5, 2 RBI, R) after a pitching change. He crossed home just one batter later when redshirt sophomore first baseman Vickash Ramjit (3-4, RBI, R, SB) singled to right. Ramjit then stole second, advanced to third on a single to right by sophomore third baseman Cody Dent, and ran home when Fontana (1-5, RBI, R) hit a sacrifice fly to left. Dent (1-3, R, 2 BB) and Smith (2-4, 3 R, 2 BB), who singled to right with two outs, both came home when Tucker (2-4, HR, 5 RBI, 2 R) ended the hit parade with a two-RBI double off the right field wall.

The Gators held the Hurricanes scoreless for much of the contest thanks to a top-notch outing from junior left-hander Alex Panteliodis. Panteliodis (6-2) tossed 6.2 innings of shutout ball before giving up a solo shot in the bottom of the seven. He finished with four strikeouts on 66 pitches and gave up one earned run while scatting five hits.

Miami rallied to score three runs in the bottom of the eighth but could not reduce their deficit any further. UM has now lost eight-straight games to UF and 11 of the last 12.

As the No. 2 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, Florida will also host Super Regional action, which begins on June 10. The Gators will take on the winner of the Atlanta Regional, either Mississippi State or Georgia Tech, in a three-game series to determine who will advance to the 2011 College World Series.

2011 Gainesville Regional Honors
Most Outstanding Player: Preston Tucker
All-Tournament Team: Nolan Fontana, Alex Panteliodis, Daniel Pigott, Tyler Thompson, Preston Tucker, Mike Zunino

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Gators baseball walks off with 5-4 win over Hurricanes in Gainesville Regional action

The rivalry may have been taken to another level Saturday as No. 2 Florida Gators baseball and the Miami Hurricanes squared off at McKethan Stadium in the Gainesville Regional portion of the 2011 NCAA Tournament. Florida (47-16) came back from a two-run deficit and eventually took a 5-4 victory on a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth to advance to the regional finals and send Miami (37-22) to an elimination game.

Sophomore right-handed pitcher Hudson Randall got the start for the Gators but was pulled after six innings of solid work. Junior RHP Tommy Toledo (5-3) pitched a strong ninth inning and came away with the victory.

Scoreless for two innings, Miami got on board first in the third to take an early 1-0 lead. The Hurricanes started the inning with a double and sacrificed a bunt and fly to bring the runner home. UM added a second run in the fourth, scoring a lead-off single with a one-out stand-up double.

Feeling the pressure, Florida succeeded in tying the game in the bottom of the inning. Junior right fielder Preston Tucker (2-4, RBI, R) got things going with a double, and sophomore catcher Mike Zunino followed suit to send him home and reduce the Gators’ deficit. Junior left fielder Tyler Thompson (2-4, RBI) kept the double parade going, smacking a ball to deep right to score Zunino (2-4, RBI, R) and knot the game up at 2-2.

UF kept the scoring run going in the fifth as sophomore shortstop Nolan Fontana connected on a single to score redshirt sophomore first baseman Vickash Ramjit, who led off the inning with a double. Fontana would advance to second on a bad throw and move over to third when senior center fielder Bryson Smith (2-3) singled. Continuing his hard-hitting afternoon, Tucker stepped into the box and doubled off the right field wall to plate Fontana and give Florida a 4-2 lead.

Miami looked to be going down in the top of the sixth but salvaged the frame to get on the board and draw the game closer. RF Dale Carey hit a clutch two-out double down the left field line to get on base and was singled home by third baseman Brad Fieger to put the Canes just one run behind the Gators. UM capitalized again in the seventh as second baseman Zeke DeVoss began the inning with a single, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt and came around to tie the game on a single by LF Rony Rodriguez.

The visitors threatened in the top of the eighth and ninth, but great pitching from Toledo (1.0 IP, K, H) negated a lead-off double in the latter inning to get Florida out of a jam. Gators junior designated hitter Daniel Pigott started the bottom of the inning by getting on base because of an error by the shortstop, advanced to second on a balk and was joined on base by Ramjit (1-3, R, BB), who was walked. The duo moved to second and third after a wild pitch and were joined on the bags when P Daniel Miranda walked his second batter of the inning, sophomore 3B Cody Dent (0-3, BB).

With all the pressure on him, Fontana (2-5, RBI, R) stepped up to the plate and hit a game-winning single to left, scoring Pigott (0-4, R) and sending Florida into the Gainesville Regional championship game on Sunday.

The Hurricanes have now lost seven-straight games to the Gators and 10 of the last 11. Four of Florida’s runs were scored due to opportunities provided by UM errors.

Miami will face Jacksonville at noon with the winner taking on UF in the finals at 4 p.m., live on ESPNU. The Gators only need one more victory to advance to the Super Regional, while either Miami or Jacksonville would have to defeat Florida twice.

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Florida routs Manhattan 17-3 in NCAA regional

The truth is that the Manhattan Jaspers never had much of a chance on Friday, squaring off against No. 2 Florida Gators baseball in the second game of the Gainesville Regional at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville, FL. Florida (46-16) scored five runs in the first inning, four in the second and seven in the third to demolish Manhattan (34-18) 17-3 in the late afternoon game and advance to the winner’s bracket.

Freshman right-handed pitcher Karsten Whitson (8-0) got the call Friday and delivered in spades, striking out three and only allowing two hits in 3.1 innings. He was pulled early simply because of the advantage UF held after three innings.

The Gators’ offense supported him early and often, posting a five-spot in the bottom of the first inning to kick things off. Sophomore shortstop Nolan Fontana (2-6, RBI, R) led off the inning with a single and was moved over to second when senior center fielder Bryson Smith (2-4, 2 RBI, 3 R) was hit by a pitch; junior right fielder Preston Tucker singled home Fontana and sophomore catcher Mike Zunino plated Smith.

An infield single and subsequent error gave junior left fielder Tyler Thompson a spot on second and scored both Tucker and Zunino; Thompson (4-4, RBI, 3 R, BB) crossed the plate shortly after when junior designated hitter Daniel Pigott smacked a single to left.

Florida added four more runs the next inning, beginning with three via back-to-back home runs. Tucker launched a two-run shot to right-center, and Zunino (3-4, HR, 2 RBI, 3 R) followed him by hitting his ball to almost the exact same spot. Pigott (4-5, 3 RBI, R) earned another RBI a few batters later, singling to right field and sending senior second baseman Josh Adams (2-5, 2 R) home to give the Gators a 9-0 lead.

Tucker (3-6, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 3 R) did what he could to keep the momentum going, smacking another two-run homer in the third. Florida led 11-0 at that point but added five more runs in the inning to hold a 16-0 advantage through three. Sophomore first baseman Austin Maddox was pulled in the top half of the inning after spraining his foot. His availability going forward is currently unknown.

Manhattan’s starter, John Soldinger, left the bases loaded with no one out upon exiting in the top of the third. He tossed two innings and surrendered an astonishing 15 earned runs on 16 hits with three homers, two walks, two hit batters and one strikeout.

Replacing Whitson, freshman RHP Keenan Kish was looking solid until the fifth inning when he gave up four hits and allowed three unearned runs, reducing the Jaspers’ deficit to 16-3. The Gators rallied to add another run in the seventh, which marked the end of Kish’s career-long outing of 3.2 innings. He struck out three and walked one.

With the victory, Florida moves on to the winner’s bracket to face Miami (37-21) on Saturday at 4 p.m. The game will air live on ESPNU and ESPN3.com. The winner will advance to the finals of the Gainesville Regional, while the loser will face the victor of the elimination game between Jacksonville-Manhattan at noon to determine who will take the other spot in the finals.

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FOUR BITS: Tebow, Johnson, Heat, Macklin

1 » Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow’s new memoir, Through My Eyes was released Tuesday, but the number of fans who camped outside (yes, spent the night) waiting for him at a Books-A-Million absolutely stunned the Heisman Trophy winner. “It’s extremely humbling,” he told The Florida Times-Union. “I take it as a huge responsibility that people care that much about me and [I] really try to make it worth it for them, really try to make them feel special for doing it.” Tebow also spoke with the paper a little bit about the content of the book, which OGGOA should receive from the publisher for review on Tuesday. “It wasn’t just about football stories,” he said. “Hopefully, it’s more about inspiring kids to go out there and try to live their dream, and go after it and live with passion. That’s a lot of what it’s about, so hopefully, people will take it that way.”

2 » Back in Gainesville, FL after suffering a minor concussion during the No. 2 Florida Gators baseball team’s elimination game in the 2011 Southeastern Conference Tournament in Hoover, AL, sophomore left-handed pitcher/designated hitter Brian Johnson is doing his best to recover quickly and get back on the field. Speaking with Florida Today, Johnson’s father said his son “is fine” and underwent a number of tests on Monday to evaluate his post-concussion symptoms. He is considered day-to-day for the Gainesville Regional portion of the 2011 NCAA Tournament, which begins on Thursday. The paper reports

He had base line testing while playing for a U.S. all-star team last summer so doctors are able to do comparisons, to make sure he returns to normal before playing again. UF is also consulting with noted Pittsburgh neuropsychologist Michael Collins.

3 » Discussing with Miami Heat power forward Udonis Haslem and guard Mike Miller their time playing for Florida, the Palm Beach Post’s Ethan Skolnick got the duo to open up about how head coach Billy Donovan ended up helping them form a bond. It all started when he called both players into his office. “Coach Donovan, was like, ‘You know, if the season started today, I couldn’t play neither one of you guys,’” Haslem told Skolnick. “That wasn’t the exact words he used. You got to get your, um, ‘S’ together. Because I just thought I was doing the best academic job in the world, and obviously I wasn’t. And neither was [Miller]. I don’t know what his excuse was. But, at that point, Mike and I bonded from there.”

Haslem even had Miller’s back when an incident occurred with an unnamed football player. “I had a football player that, um, that didn’t really like me,” Miller said with a smile. “For unknown reasons. And UD put an end to that.” Haslem remembered, “Yeah, I just let the guy know, if you got a problem with Mike, you got a problem with me. The guy never bothered Mike again.”

4 » Talk surrounding the 2011 NBA Draft from a Gators perspective has mostly focused on forward Chandler Parsons, who could be picked anywhere from the teens to the mid-second round. Parsons, who has been going around the country doing private workouts after successfully competing in the NBA Combine and select group camp in Minnesota, is not the only former Florida player eligible to be selected. Center Vernon Macklin, according to the Indianapolis Star, is one of six former college players working out for the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday. Macklin is projected to be a late second-round pick or go undrafted.

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FOUR BITS: baseball bracket, softball in WCWS

1 » Awarded the No. 2 seed in the nation on Monday, Florida Gators baseball also received its opening round match-ups for the Gainesville Regional as part of the 2011 NCAA Tournament. Being hosted at McKethan Stadium, the regional will feature one-seed Florida (45-16), two-seed Miami (36-21), three-seed Jacksonville (36-22) and four-seed Manhattan (34-17). Action begins Friday, June 3 with Florida-Manhattan and Miami-Jacksonville contests taking place; both games will air live on ESPNU at 4 p.m. and noon, respectively. The Gainesville Regional will span the weekend unless an “if necessary” finale is forced for Monday evening with the winner going on to face the victor of the Atlanta Regional in Super Regional action. The Gators will host the Super Regional if they advance out of their opening round bracket.

2 » The first team in Southeastern Conference history to advance to four consecutive Women’s College World Series, No. 4 Florida softball (52-10) begins action on Thursday when they take on No. 5 Missouri (52-8) in Oklahoma City, OK at 9:30 p.m. live on ESPN2. Opponents in the second contest, set for Friday or Saturday, will be either No. 1 Arizona State (55-6) vs. No. 9 Oklahoma (42-17); the winners of the two games will play Friday evening and the losers will square-off Saturday afternoon. The Gators, located in the bottom bracket of the WCWS, will be able to decide their fate by the end of the weekend as the championship series begins Monday, June 6.

3 » Just days after leading the Gators to the 2011 NCAA Championship in women’s tennis, sophomore Lauren Embree was forced to retire from the Final Four of the NCAA Singles Championships on Sunday due to a painful toenail and skin issue on her foot. Embree, who has been on absolute fire during the NCAAs, forfeited a tied match with Stanford’s Stacy Tan that was knotted at a set apiece (7-5, 3-6). If she had stayed in the match and won, she would have had the opportunity to compete for the individual title.

4 » Also ending their season was the men’s No. 17 doubles team of senior Alexandre Lacroix and sophomore Sekou Bangoura, Jr. Dropping a 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(4) match to No. 3 Bradley Klahn/Ryan Thacher of Stanford, Lacroix and Bangoura concluded a terrific year with a semifinals appearance. With no eligibility remaining, Lacroix will depart Florida as the school’s all-time leader in doubles wins (104) and overall wins (214).

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Florida softball responds from 3-2 loss to run-rule UCLA 11-3, advance to NCAA Super Regionals

It was a tale of two games for No. 3 Florida Gators softball (50-10), which struggled to hit the ball early in the day but hit the cover off it in the late afternoon to win the Gainesville Regional and advance to the 2011 NCAA Super Regionals. Florida fell in a come-from-behind 3-2 win by the UCLA Bruins (36-19) but powered their way to victory in the second contest, earning an 11-3 decision at Pressly Softball Stadium.

Senior right-handed pitcher Stephanie Brombacher got the start for Florida in the first game and got out of numerous jams until being pulled with two runners on in the bottom of the fifth. Freshman RHP Hannah Rogers relieved her but ended up allowing one of Brombacher’s runners to score before the inning was over.

The Gators offense responded immediately, utilizing a walk and hit-by-pitch to score twice on in the top of the sixth. Florida called a double steal to place junior pinch runner Lauren Heil (in for senior first baseman Megan Bush) on third and freshman shortstop Cheyenne Coyle on second with one out.

Senior catcher Tiffany DeFelice (0-1, RBI), the next batter, hit a sacrifice fly to left to score Heil; an error at third forced by Colye (1-1, R, BB, 3 SB) sliding into the baseman’s foot let the ball loose and allowed her to score the Gators’ second run of the inning.

After getting through the sixth, Florida entered the bottom of the seventh looking to end the game. UCLA would have none of it, getting their lead-off runner on base and scoring her two batters later on a RBI single. The Bruins’ rally continued as UCLA loaded the bases with two outs. A single to right-center by right fielder Amy Crawford plated 1B Andrea Harrison, gave the Bruins the victory and forced a second and final game.

Florida only registered one hit in the opening game and failed to take advantage of their numerous base running opportunities. The Gators stole seven bags in the contest but left six runners on base, many of whom were in scoring position.

Rogers drew the start in the second game and was clutch early, getting out of a bases loaded jam in the top of the first. Florida rewarded her for her efforts, loading the bases in the bottom of the inning and getting on the board right away.

Bush smacked a two-RBI single to score junior center fielder Michelle Moultrie and senior second baseman Aja Paculba, and Coyle followed with an infield single that was thrown home but bobbled for an error to allow two more runs and put the Gators ahead 4-0. DeFelice (1-3, HR, 2 RBI, R) did not want the fun to end and jacked a two-run bomb to left with one out to give Florida an early 6-0 advantage. Moultrie (2-4, RBI, 2 R, 2 SB) and Paculba (2-2, 2 RBI, R, BB, SB) followed by returning the favor from earlier in the inning with one-RBI and two-RBI singles to give the Gators a 9-0 lead.

The next two innings were all Rogers, who struck out the side in the top of the second and was faced with another bases loaded jam in the third. Instead of panicking, she forced a 1-2-3 double play and ended the third with a strikeout, her fifth of the afternoon.

Florida tacked two more runs on in the fourth when Coyle (2-3, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R, SB) stepped up with junior PR Ellie Langley on base (in place of sophomore RF Brittany Schutte) and hit a homer to left to put her team ahead 11-0. Rogers (32-6) was roughed up a bit in the top of the fifth and gave up three runs but eventually tossed three more outs and earned a win against UCLA in a five-inning, run-ruled game hours after taking a tough loss. She allowed seven hits and notched six strikeouts in the second game.

The victory advances the Gators to the Super Regional, which will be hosted in Gainesville, FL as Florida takes on No. 13 Oregon beginning Fri., May 27.

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