TWO BITS: UF throttles JU, Alexander wins title

1 » No. 8/9 Florida Gators baseball (21-7) handed the Jacksonville Dolphins (16-14) a licking Tuesday night at McKethan Stadium, powering their way to a 12-2 win. Senior outfielder Jonathan Pigott (1-3, two runs) and freshman shortstop Nolan Fontana (1-4, one run) each hit two-RBI triples as freshman catcher Mike Zunino (2-2) scored three times. Sophomore starter Greg Larson (1-0) picked up the win after giving up two unearned runs in three innings; Florida relievers tossed six scoreless innings behind him to hold on to the victory.

2 » Senior golfer Tyson Alexander won his first individual event title Tuesday at the BancorpSouth Intercollegiate tournament as the No. 4/6 Gators finished in second place at the Reunion Golf and Country Club. Alexander finished the tournament with a season-low 205 (-11) on rounds of 63, 71 and 70, jumping senior teammate Tim McKenney (who finished in second place) by a single stroke in the final round for the win. As a whole, Florida finished with a team score of 847 (-17), just one stroke off of the tournament-winning North Florida Ospreys.

Extra BITS » Gators take home weekly awards:

- Softball: Freshman Ensley Gammel named USA Softball National Player of the Week, SEC Pitcher of the Week (three wins, 15 innings, no runs allowed)
- Lacrosse: Freshman Ashley Bruns named Nike/Inside Lacrosse Player of the Week, WomensLax.com/WomensLacrosse.com Rookie of the Week (eight goals, five assists)
- Lacrosse: Freshman Sam Farrell named ALC Defensive Player of the Week (held Oregon’s Jana Drummond to one goal and two shots and held Penn State’s Jen Steadman to no shots)
- Track & Field: Senior thrower Mariam Kevkhishvili named SEC Female Field Athlete of the Week (won women’s shot put at 66th Pepsi Florida Relays with nation-leading mark of 17.94m/58-10.25)
- Baseball: Brian Johnson named SEC Freshman of the Week (first player from UF since Brad Wilkerson in 1998 to start in an SEC weekend series on the mound and also bat for himself)
- Baseball: Sophomore pitcher Alex Panteliodis named to CollegeBaseball360.com Honor Roll (held No. 20/17 Vanderbilt to one run in 6.1 innings with six strikeouts)

Photo Credit: GatorZone

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FOUR BITS: Brewer MIP, LaPorta, Jones, Couch

1 » As OGGOA mentioned two weeks ago, former Florida Gators guard/forward Corey Brewer is much improved one year after returning from surgery on his anterior cruciate ligament. Brewer is playing so well for the Minnesota Timberwolves, in fact, that he is in the running for the NBA’s 2010 Most Improved Player award. “It’s a confidence thing,” Brewer said of his improvement. “My rookie year was tough because I was going from one extreme system to another extreme system. I didn’t know where I could fit in. [...] That’s why I loved Florida because we pressed, I got to get out on the break, got a lot of dunks. Now to be able to do it in the NBA, to actually get some highlights, it’s good.”

Brewer also told The Gainesville Sun that he keeps a close eye on the Gators and is hopeful for the future. “They need a few more players,” he said. “Coach [Bill Donovan] has been doing a good job. Austin Rivers is going to be really good when he comes up. The big kid from Jacksonville [Patric Young] coming in, I like him. And then my man, Casey [Prather], he’s from Tennessee. I like him, athletic 6-4.”

Three more BITS on UF connections in the MLB, NCAAs and PGA…after the jump!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Brewer MIP, LaPorta, Jones, Couch

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FOUR BITS: Alex Brown, Chris DiMarco, Evans

1 » When the Chicago Bears signed defensive end Julius Peppers, former Florida Gators DE Alex Brown welcomed him to the team. Now, according to the Chicago Tribune, the Bears are showing Brown the door precisely due to their acquisition of Peppers. Head coach Lovie Smith, at the NFL owners meeting this week, informed reporters that Israel Idonije would be moving to DE, basically forcing Brown out of the way. The team is now trying to actively trade the nine-year veteran and 2009 captain but could release him if a deal is not struck.

2 » Currently tied for ninth at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, former Gators golfer Chris DiMarco is playing better than he has in quite some time. Attempting to regain full exempt status on the PGA Tour for the first time since 2008, DiMarco is steadily progressing. “”I really feel like I’ve gotten back to the old swing, the old consistency” he told The Florida Times-Union after Thursday’s round. “It’s been baby steps. The confidence is back and the rhythm is back.”

3 » Sophomore cornerback Josh Evans appears to be out for the remainder of spring practice, according to The Miami Herald’s Joseph Goodman. There are no reports of the injury being serious of regular season-threatening, but obviously Florida would like him back as soon as possible. OGGOA is still waiting to hear word on what happened to redshirt sophomore wide receiver T.J. Lawrence.

4 » Jeremy Fowler of the Orlando Sentinel speaks with ESPN‘s Brian Kenny:

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FOUR BITS: Softball, tennis dominate; golf, track

1 » Competing in the DeMarini Tournament over the weekend, the No. 3/10 Florida Gators began with a solid 12-3 win over Pacific on Friday. Falling to No. 10/12 Stanford 2-0 later that afternoon, the Gators needed to rebound through the final two games of the tournament in order to come out on top. Florida did just that, earning a 12-0 victory over the Cal State Fullerton Titans (3-16) in five innings on Saturday. Senior outfielder Francesca Enea led the Gators with a 2-3 performance for two home runs (including a grand slam) and five RBI. Sophomore OF Michelle Moultrie also contributed, going 3-3 from the plate with three runs. Junior starter Stephanie Brombacher (11-2) earned the win in four innings of work.

Sunday was the final day of the tournament, and the Gators still had some work to do. Florida began the day with a dominating 14-3 win over the UC Davis Aggies (7-11) while totaling a season-high 16 hits (third-most in school history). Enea went 3-4 and extended her hit streak to 11 games while jacking another grand slam. Her 51 career home runs tie for second on the SEC’s all-time list. Brombacher (12-2) got another win on three innings of work. Later that day, the Gators (16-2) closed out the event with a 13-1 victory over the Loyola Marymount Lions (3-7). Junior shortstop Megan Bush went 3-3 with two home runs, three RBI and three runs as freshman starter Ensley Gammel (3-0) earned the complete game win.

Read about tennis’ dominating victories, golf and track & field after the jump!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Softball, tennis dominate; golf, track

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Former Gators golfer Villegas wins Honda Classic

Former Florida Gators golfer Camilo Villegas had been searching for a signature victory on the PGA Tour. He found it Sunday, winning his third tour title following four days of outstanding golf at the 2010 Honda Classic from the PGA National Champion Course in Palm Beach Gardens, FL.

Villegas, who shot a four-under 66 in the first round on Thursday, duplicated his performance Friday for a tie atop the leaderboard with Anthony Kim with a combined eight-under 132. Looking to pull away from the pack Saturday, he birdied four of seven holes before bogeying three in a five-hole stretch. Villegas still finished the third day with the lead after a three-under 67 kept him atop the leaderboard with an 11-under 199.

He closed out the tournament Sunday with a beautiful birdie putt on 18 for a final round two-under 68 and his first PGA Tour victory of the season. Villegas won the tournament by five strokes with a 13-under 267, tying hall of famer Jack Nicklaus‘ tournament record for margin of victory.

Villegas, who lives in South Florida, had the comfort of staying in his own home throughout the tournament and benefited from the cheering and support of local fans as he progressed throughout the weekend.

“I’m sleeping in my own bed this week, which is always nice,” Villegas said Saturday. “I’ve been nice and relaxed. Golf tournaments are four days. So with that said, you’ve got to put four good rounds together and see what happens at the end.”

After the win Sunday, it was obvious that he felt a sense of accomplishment. “It’s been a long week, but man, it’s been a good one. I loved every second of it,” he said. “It’s never as easy as you think. I stayed patient and my attitude was great all week.”

Fellow former Gators golfer Matt Every finished tied for 26th place with a one-over 281. Chris Couch missed the cut after the second day of the tournament.

Photo Credit: Alan Diaz/Associated Press

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TWO BITS: Gators at The Honda Classic, lacrosse

1 » Former Florida Gators golfers tore up the first round of The Honda Classic at the PGA National Champion Course in Palm Beach Gardens, FL, Thursday. Camilo Villegas was T3 on Thursday with a -4 66, Matt Every followed at T19 with a -1 69 and Chris Couch brought up the rear at T43 with a +1 71. All three have begun the second round hot with Villegas, as of press time, tied for the lead.

2 » Lacrosse (3-1) continues to roll in its inaugural season, picking up a decisive 22-11 win over the St. Bonaventure Bonnies (0-2) Thursday night at Donald R. Dizney Stadium in Gainesville, FL. Freshman attackers Ashley Bruns and Julie Schindel scored five and four goals, respectively, as the Gators cruised to victory. The team is up for some stiff competition when the No. 5 Georgetown Hoyas come to town Tuesday.

Extra Bit » Before the match, Florida freshman midfielder Brittany Dashiell was named the American Lacrosse Conference Co-Rookie of the Week after scoring six combined goals against La Salle and No. 4 North Carolins last week.

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FOUR BITS: Dowling to WR? SEC award winners

1 » In a Q&A session on Rivals Thursday, recruiting analyst Jamie Newberg addressed the Florida Gators’ needs at wide receiver by mentioning that five-star safety Jonathan Dowling (Bradenton, FL) has requested that the catch instead of defend passes while wearing the Orange and Blue. Dowling, assumed to be playing free safety, is listed as an athlete by many recruiting services, could find a spot in Florida’s receiving corps, though he should also see an opportunity to get some time on the field in the secondary.

2 » Though he was not focused on former Gators quarterback Tim Tebow at the 2010 NFL Scouting Combine, Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Raheem Morris praised the signal caller and believes there will be plenty of teams interested in his services. “Teams will be fired up to get him,” Morris told The Tampa Tribune. “He’s won at every level. His teammates love him. They’ll let you know they love him. [...] Those are the kind of guys you look for to involve in the character, leadership and also the winning of your football team.”

Two more BITS on Joe Haden and UF award-winners after the break!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Dowling to WR? SEC award winners

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FOUR BITS: Haden’s 40, golf, Prestwood, Floyd

1 » Former Florida Gators cornerback Joe Haden, unanimously considered the best player at his position available for the 2010 NFL Draft before the Scouting Combine, is being criticized by draftniks and supposedly sliding down boards because of his “slow” 4.57-second 40-yard dash. Comments from some like ESPN’s Todd McShay have Haden falling out of the top 10 (never mind the fact that he has a chance to improve it at Florida’s Pro Day on March 17). The time has even spurned beat writers for teams like the Atlanta Falcons to speculate that Haden could fall as low as No. 19. Others, like Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, put Haden’s time in perspective. It’s a bigger deal to those talking about it on television than it is to the NFL scouts hired and fired based on their ability to discern successes from busts.

2 » Florida men’s and womens’ golf each competed at tournaments over the last few days; unfortunately, neither came out as victors. Though they jumped four spots in the final round, the men’s team finished the John Hayt Invitational with a seventh-place score of 899 (+35). The women tied for seventh in the Kinderlou Forest Challenge with a 913 (+37).

Two BITS of Florida Gators football recruiting news after the jump!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Haden’s 40, golf, Prestwood, Floyd

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