Florida softball wins twice, set for regional final

Hosting the Gainesville Regional as part of the 2011 NCAA Tournament, No. 3 Florida Gators softball (49-9) earned a pair of victories over the weekend and advanced to the regional final set for Sunday at 1 p.m. at Pressly Softball Stadium.

Florida got the tournament started by shutting out the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats (33-25) 8-0 in five innings on Friday. With senior right-handed pitcher Stephanie Brombacher (18-2) on the mound, the Gators took care of the Wildcats early by rallying for four runs in the bottom of the first inning. Florida added two more scores each in the third and fifth innings to cruise to victory.

Brombacher (5.0 IP, 5 K, 3 H, BB) tossed a gem for the Gators, only allowing three hits while striking out five and receiving plenty of help at the plate from her teammates. Freshman shortstop Cheyenne Coyle (2-2, HR, 3 RBI, R) led UF offensively, but the Gators also got stellar performances from junior center fielder Michelle Moultrie (2-3, 2 RBI, R) and sophomore right fielder Brittany Schutte (1-3, 2 RBI, R).

The result was the same on Saturday though the effort to earn it was much greater. Florida stayed aggressive in front of the home crowd and defeated the No. 14 UCLA Bruins (34-18) 4-2.

UCLA led early, utilizing a two-run homer from left fielder B.B. Bates in the first inning to put UF on its heels. However, the Gators responded quickly by scoring single runs in the bottom of the first, second and third to jump ahead 3-2.

Senior first baseman Megan Bush (1-2, RBI, BB) knocked Moultrie (1-2, RBI, R, SB) home in the first, and Moultrie returned the favor in the second with a RBI double to score freshman third baseman Kasey Fagan (0-3, R, SB), who reached on a throwing error before stealing second base. Senior second baseman Aja Paculba (1-1, 2 R, BB, SB) reached on a walk in the third, stole second and advanced to third on an illegal pitch before scoring on a passed ball.

Florida tacked on one more run in the bottom of the fifth as Paculba hit a single with one out and eventually scored on a wild pitch. The Gators notched five stolen bases on the afternoon as freshman RHP Hannah Rogers (31-5) allowed two unearned runs on five hits while walking one and striking out nine in a complete game effort.

UF will face either UCLA or Jacksonville in the regional final on Sunday.

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FOUR BITS: Tebow, softball, Haslem, Weis

1 » Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow has a wide variety of interests these days, but up until this point no one has dared question his work ethic or dedication to football. Then comes running back LenDale White, who asked Tebow publicly last week to join the voluntary workouts being put on by veteran safety Brian Dawkins in Denver. Tebow has previously worked out with teammates (especially his wide receivers) both in Denver and Jacksonville, FL but was finishing up a round of appearances including at his own charity golf tournament and for Jockey in New York, NY.

Thursday he returned to Denver and was one of 13 players to show up at the workout – the only quarterback on his team to do so. According to The Denver Post‘s Lindsay Jones, Tebow got there an hour early to throw passes and stayed for the duration. “This part is more important to show that we’re all together. I know a lot of us have been throwing and catching and doing what we need to do other places, but I think this is big, just to show that we’re together,” he said. “You can come together a few times to show, ‘Hey, we’ve got each other’s backs.’”

2 » Six members of No. 3 Florida Gators softball were honored Thursday with selections to the 2011 Louisville Slugger/National Coaches Fastpitch Association All-Southeast Region Teams. Senior outfielder Kelsey Bruder, senior first baseman Megan Bush, freshman pitcher Hannah Rogers and sophomore utility player Brittany Schutte were voted onto the First Team, while junior OF Michelle Moultrie and senior second baseman Aja Paculba earned Second Team honors. Florida begins 2011 NCAA Tournament action by hosting the Gainesville Regional beginning Friday at 6 p.m. against Benthune-Cookman.

3 » Playing his first significant minutes for the Miami Heat since making an early recovery from a Lisfranc injury of his foot, power forward Udonis Haslem was a major spark off the bench on Wednesday. Haslem entered the game, started 4-for-4 from the field and finished with 13 points and five rebounds (three offensive) on 50 percent shooting. He was also a huge help in the post for Miami, which lacks strength and dominance down low, by limiting the offensive rebounds that the Chicago Bulls were able to grab. Game three of the Eastern Conference Finals is set for Sunday at 8:30 p.m.

4 » Gators offensive coordinator Charlie Weis may be getting paid handsomely by Florida ($765,000 in salary this year), but he is also still receiving checks from his last college job with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. According to a report from the Chicago Tribune printed on Friday, Weis has been paid $7.3 million by Notre Dame since he was terminated in 2009 including a $6.6 million lump sum upon being fired. He will continue receiving payments from the school through Dec. 2015 (when his 10-year contract extension was supposed to end).

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2010 NCAA Gainesville Super Regional Gameday: No. 4 Florida Gators vs. No. 11 Miami Hurricanes

Location: McKethan Stadium – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 5,500]
Game Times: [1] Fri. – 7 p.m. (EST); [2] Sat. – 7 p.m.; [3] Sun. (if nec.) – 7 p.m.

TV: [1] ESPN/ESPNHD; [2-3] ESPN2/ESPN2HD
Online: ESPN3.com
OGGOA Live Updates: via Twitter

No. 4 Florida Gators No. 11 Miami Hurricanes
Head Coach: Kevin O’Sullivan Head Coach: Jim Morris
Record: 45-15 Record: 43-18
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Atlantic Coast
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

HISTORY:
» Miami leads the all-time series 124-97-1 over Florida but has a losing record in Gainesville, FL, with UF leading 60-45-1.
» The Gators are making their fourth Super Regional appearance in school history – all have been within the last seven years. The Hurricanes will play their 10th Super Regional, last beating the Orange & Blue in the event with a two-game sweep in 2004.
» Florida is 28-9 (.757) at McKethan Stadium during NCAA play, sweeping the Gainesville Regional two years in a row and knocking Miami off in 2009.
» The Canes have won the head-to-head NCAA match-up 12 of 17 times, ending the Gators’ season on eight different occasions.
» Florida faced Miami in a three-game regular season series in Coral Gables, FL, earlier in 2010, winning two of three games (7-1, 6-9, 4-2) for the first time since 2007.
» Gators head coach Kevin O’Sullivan is 5-6 against the Hurricanes all-time, 3-6 during the regular season and 2-0 in NCAA play.
» Strength of schedule: Florida’s was third in the country, trailing Miami and Alabama.

KEEP AN EYE ON…
» Gators starting pitchers…sophomore Alex Panteliodis (10-2, 3.39), freshman Hudson Randall (8-3, 2.97) and freshman Brian Johnson (6-4, 3.97) are a combined 16-2 (.889) with a 2.40 ERA at McKethan Stadium in 2010.
» Freshman sensation Austin Maddox…a third baseman who can play three other positions, has garnered numerous awards while leading the Gators in RBI (68), multiple-RBI games (20), home runs (17) and sacrifice flies (five).
» Sophomore first baseman Preston Tucker…who leads Florida in batting average (.375, 15-40) over the last 10 games with eight RBI, five runs and five extra-base hits (two homers). He also is tops on the team with 16 doubles on the year.
» Senior outfielder Matt den Dekker…a speed demon leading UF with a 23-for-29 conversion rate on stolen bases, he is tied for fifth on the program’s career list with 65 stolen bags and leads the 2010 team in batting average (.361), runs (62) and hits (84).
» Junior closer Kevin Chapman (3-0)…has a team-low 1.28 ERA (42.1 innings) in 29 appearances. He is tied for second in the SEC with 11 saves. As a team, Florida’s 17 saves are one shy of the team’s single-season record (1991).
» The Gators bullpen…which is 16-2 with 17 saves and a 4.20 ERA in 240 innings, while its starters are a combined 29-13 with a 3.86 ERA in 289 innings.
» The ACC Player of the Year…junior catcher Yasmani Grandal leads Miami (and the ACC) in batting average (.411) slugging percentage (.729) and on-base percentage (.538). He is also tops on the Hurricanes in hits (88) and total bases (156), and second in home runs (14) and RBI (58).
» UM’s junior starter Chris Hernandez (10-3)…who is the team’s most dominant pitcher and a flame thrower, leads the ACC in ERA (2.77) and wins.

STREAKS:
» The Gators’ 45 wins so far in 2010 is the program’s highest victory total since the 2005 NCAA College World Series runner-up team finished 48-23.
» Florida is currently riding a 13-game home winning streak.
» The Gators have outscored opponents 420-266 in 2010, are 34-4 (.895) when scoring first and 11-11 (.500) when their opponents do. Florida is 33-3 (.917) when out-hitting opponents and 9-12 (.429) the other way around. UF is also 9-3 (.750) in one-run games, 39-0 when leading after six innings, 43-0 aver seven and 42-0 after eight.
» Florida has committed an SEC-low 50 errors in 60 games and boast a .978 fielding percentage – good for tops in the conference and seventh nationally.
» The Gators’ season totals of 107 doubles and 80 home runs are the most since the 2005 team (113 and 85, respectively).
» Florida is batting .311 against left-handers and .299 against righties.

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Six home runs help Gators dominate Owls 15-0

In their most dominant performance of the season, No. 4 Florida Gators baseball (45-15) throttled the Florida Atlantic Owls (37-24) 15-0 to win the 2010 NCAA Gainesville Regional on Sunday night at McKethan Stadium and advance to Super Regional competition.

Fueled by sophomore outfielder Tyler Thompson – who posted a three home run, six RBI performance in which he went 4-for-5 – the Gators smacked six homers over the outfield wall (a school postseason record) while simultaneously shutting out the Owls behind seven strong innings by freshman starter Brian Johnson (6-4).

Johnson also went 3-for-5 from the plate with a homer. Junior first baseman Preston Tucker (4-6, four RBI) and freshman catcher Mike Zunino (2-4) provided the other two dingers of the evening. In all, Florida tallied 19 hits and five walks, stranding 10 on base.

Relievers redshirt sophomore Tommy Toledo and junior Kevin Chapman tossed the final two innings of the contest to complete the shutout.

Johnson was honored with the Gainesville Regional’s Most Outstanding Player award after the game for his .625 (5-8) performance at the plate for the series and dominant outing from the mound on Sunday. UF as a whole placed seven players in eight spots on the All-Tournament Team, including Johnson, Thompson, Tucker, Zunino, senior outfielder Matt den Dekker and freshman pitcher Hudson Randall.

The win advances the Gators to Super Regional action for the second-straight year and fourth in the last seven. Gainesville, FL, will once again host the event, which will consist of a three-game series against the winner of the Coral Gables Regional (to be decided Monday night between Miami and Texas A&M).

Florida is 20-1 in night games at home this season and won its 13th consecutive game on Sunday. The Gators outscored their three opponents 32-5 over the weekend.

Photo Credit: Phil Sandlin/Associated Press

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Baseball tops OSU, softball eliminated from WCWS

No. 4 Florida Gators baseball (44-15) took it to the Oregon State Beavers (32-23) early, scoring seven runs in the third innings to propel them to a 10-2 victory in the winner’s bracket semifinal of the 2010 NCAA Gainesville Regional on Saturday night at McKethan Stadium.

Sophomore starter Alex Panteliodis (10-2) tossed a career-high eight strikeouts in five innings and was relieved by sophomore Greg Larson, junior Matt Campbell and senior Chas Spottswood – all of whom shutout the Oregon State. Panteliodis’ 10th win makes him the first Florida pitcher since Alan Horne (2005) to achieve 10 victories in a season.

Offensively, the Gators were propelled by home runs from senior outfielder Matt den Dekker (2-4), junior second baseman Josh Adams (2-5) and freshman shortstop Nolan Fontana (1-3). Freshman third baseman Austin Maddox’s 3-5 day included two RBI and a run scored, and freshman designated hitter Brian Johnson (2-3) also had a nice performance from the batter’s box.

With the win, Florida advances to the final game of the Gainesville Regional, set to be played on Sunday at 7 p.m. against the victor of Oregon State vs. Florida Atlantic (36-23) match-up earlier in the afternoon. The winner will have to defeat the Gators twice in order to knock them out of the 2010 NCAA College World Series.

No. 4 Florida Gators softball (52-9) was handed a different fate Saturday evening, falling 3-2 in a close back-and-forth game to the No. 6 Georgia Bulldogs (50-12) in the 2010 NCAA Women’s College World Series at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, OK. With the loss, the Gators were eliminated from the tournament and officially end their 2010 season.

Junior pitcher Stephanie Brombacher (35-8), just hours after tossing a complete game shutout against No. 9 Missouri, started her second game of the day, once again going the distance. Tallying three earned runs (two in the first inning), Brombacher did her best to keep Georgia at bay but was unable to register a single strikeout.

Down much of the game, Florida rattled off runs in the fourth and fifth inning to tie it up 2-2. Freshman designated player Brittany Schutte (2-3) launched her third home run of the day and 19th of the season in the fourth, putting her alone at second-place in UF’s single-season record books. Pinch runner Lauren Heil scored on a wild pitch in the fifth, the Gators’ only other run of the game.

“We didn’t play our best; we played our hardest. I thought we went out and fought pretty heavily to the end,” head coach Tim Walton said after being eliminated. “It’s just one of those things, like we talked about two days ago, how hard it is to come back from the losers’ bracket. Anytime you’re eliminated it really hurts.”

Florida’s season ends with them sitting the school’s and Southeastern Conference’s single-season records in home runs (109) as well as six other program records in batting average (.331), slugging percentage (.627), on-base percentage (.432), runs (432), RBI (402) and total bases (936).

It was also the final game in the college careers of seniors outfielder Francesca Enea and third baseman Corrie Brooks, who each appeared in the WCWS three times, played in four Super Regionals and won more games than any players in team history.

Photo Credit: University of Florida

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Florida drops Bethune-Cookman 7-3 in regional

No. 4 Florida Gators baseball (43-15) looked like their normal selves Friday evening, taking down the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats (35-21) 7-3 at McKethan Stadium in the 2010 NCAA Gainesville Regional. Freshman starter Hudson Randall (8-3) tossed a stellar 7.1 innings for the win, striking out a career-high 10 batters and not allowing a hit until the fifth inning. It marked his sixth-straight victory.

Florida’s offense provided Randall with plenty of support from the get-go, scoring four runs in the second inning and three more in the sixth. Senior outfielder Matt den Dekker and freshman shortstop Nolan Fontana each went 2-4 from the plate with two RBI and a walk apiece. Freshman catcher Mike Zunino (1-3) added the other RBI.

The Gators will continue Gainesville Regional action Saturday at 7 p.m. in a winner’s bracket game against Oregon State (32-22), which beat Florida Atlantic (35-23) 6-4 on Friday afternoon. The game will air live on Sun Sports and ESPN3.com.

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Gators will host regional as No. 3 national seed

No. 3 Florida Gators baseball (42-15) has been announced by the NCAA as the host of one of 16 regionals for the 2010 NCAA Tournament. Four teams, including the Gators, will compete in the Gainesville Regional at McKethan Stadium beginning on June 4.

On Monday, the NCAA set the entire 64-team field, placing Florida Atlantic (35-22), Oregon State (31-22) and Bethune-Cookman (35-20) in the Gainesville Regional. Florida will take on the Wildcats in the second game of the event on Friday, June 4 at 7 p.m. The first game will feature the Owls and Beavers going head-to-head at 1 p.m.

The winner of the Gainesville Regional will face the victor from the Coral Gables Regional (featuring host Miami) in Super Regional action starting Friday, June 11. Should Florida win, Gainesville, FL, would likely be the host site of the next round.

Outfielder picked for SEC All-Tournament Team

Gators senior outfielder Matt den Dekker was named to the 2010 Southeastern Conference All-Tournament Team on Sunday. den Dekker was only 4-15 (.267) during the event but led Florida with four RBI and tied for the lead with three runs scored.

Tournament-winner LSU (five), Alabama (three), Ole Miss (one) and Vanderbilt (one) filled out the rest of the 2010 team.

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No. 4 Gators softball downs No. 13 Sun Devils, advances to Women’s College World Series

No. 4 Florida Gators softball (48-8) won its second straight game against the No. 13 Arizona State Sun Devils (44-17), defeating them 5-2 on Sunday in the second game of the Gainesville Super Regional to advance to the 2010 NCAA Women’s College World Series. Florida’s berth to the event is their third in as many years.

The Gators outscored the Sun Devils 13-2 over the weekend at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium, with junior starter Stephanie Brombacher (34-6) earning both victories in back-to-back complete game efforts. She did not allow a single run over the first 12 innings before letting ASU score one in both the sixth and seventh on Sunday.

Like Saturday, junior outfielder Kelsey Bruder (2-2) led the way for Florida offensively with three RBI off of two home runs. Fellow junior first baseman Megan Bush (1-3) added a solo shot of her own, giving the Gators a 4-0 lead going into the last six outs.

Florida will begin the WCWS by facing No. 5 UCLA in Oklahoma City, OK, on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. The game will air live on ESPN and ESPN3.com.

Baseball selected to host a regional

No. 4 Florida baseball (42-15) has been announced by the NCAA as the host of one of 16 regionals for the 2010 NCAA Tournament. Four teams, including the Gators, will compete in the Gainesville Regional at McKethan Stadium beginning on June 4.

The NCAA will announce the entire 64-team field (including Florida’s three initial opponents) live on ESPN on Monday at 12:30 p.m. This will be the third time in the last six years that a regional has been hosted in Gainesville, FL.

Photo Credit: University of Florida

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