TWO BITS: Toledo returns to mound in UF win

1 » No. 4/6 Florida Gators baseball (34-12) topped the Florida Atlantic Owls (31-19) 7-3 Wednesday night, but the story of the game was the return of sophomore pitcher Tommy Toledo from a serious injury sustained on March 14. Toledo, who broke facial bones after taking a line drive off the face two months ago, tossed a scoreless inning without trepidation. Senior Jeff Barfield (3-0) got the win after four innings of work as the Gators added three home runs behind him from freshman shortstop Nick Fontana (2-3, three runs), senior outfielder Matt den Dekker (1-3, two RBI) and freshman third baseman Austin Maddox (1-4, two RBI). Maddox’s blast tied Florida’s single-season record for homers by a freshman (16).

2 » The Gainesville Sun’s reigning two-time golfer of the year, J.D. Tomlinson (Gainesville, FL), has committed to join the Gators’ 2011 recruiting class, according to the paper. The 10th-ranked golfer in the nation, Tomlinson can officially sign with Florida on Nov. 10. “It is amazing, I have grown up wanting to play golf at the University of Florida and I had worked really hard to make that happen,” he told the Sun. “I am really glad my hard work has paid off.”

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TWO BITS: Baseball takes Bama, Wright inspired

1 » No. 4/6 Florida Gators baseball (32-11, 16-6 SEC) handled the Alabama Crimson Tide (28-18, 9-13 SEC) on Friday on the road at Sewell-Thomas Stadium, coming away with a 9-3 victory on the heels of freshman starter Hudson Randall’s seven shutout innings. Randall (6-3), cleared way for the Gators’ bats to get to work, and the lineup responded with every single player getting a hit. Freshman catcher Mike Zunino (2-4) led the way with three RBI; freshman third baseman Austin Maddox (2-5) attempted to match him with two RBI and two runs of his own. Florida faces Alabama the next two days before returning to Gainesville, FL, for a five-game home stand.

2 » A day before Mother’s Day, it is good to hear a nice mother-son story prominently featuring a former Florida football player. For new Chicago Bears safety Major Wright, his mother Andrea Eluett has stood as a major part of his life, which is the reason why he gave her his 2009 BCS National Championship ring last year as a present. “She’s been a big inspiration in my life,” Wright said. “Growing up, we didn’t have it all. Everything wasn’t going right for us. But she’d always be there for us no matter what it took. Her [returning to school for a pharmacy degree] showed our family that we could go to college and be productive and get great jobs. It let us know that we could do all things and not to let anything hold us back.” Read the rest: ChicagoBears.com

UPDATE » Four former Gators started competing in The PLAYERS Championship on Thursday, but only one remains after two rounds of action. Camilo Villegas (143), Brian Gay (144) and Mark Calcavecchia (147) all missed the cut while Chris Couch will continue competing with a two-day 142 (-3).

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FOUR BITS: Tebow has “it,” Lewis, TPC, lacrosse

1 » Denver Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels continued his praise of former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow to the Denver Post Thursday, citing that his first-round pick has the “it” factor. “There are people with a great deal of God-given ability who are fun to watch, and it’s really interesting to see what kind of seasons they’ll put together,” McDaniels said. “Then there are guys who will say they won’t fail, our team’s not going to fail, and they have a ‘I’m not going to let you down’ attitude. And that’s what you notice with Tim.”

The coach also said Tebow has a good chance to get on the field early – not years down the line like all the NFL Draft experts and other scouts project. “To me, (his football IQ) gives him an advantage, an opportunity to play earlier than other people have played,” he continued. “Everybody keeps talking about it will be two, three years before he can play, and I think they don’t know this guy. His mental capacity, and the way he works, and the fact that he’s on such a fast pace, will give him the chance to compete apples-to-apples. It’s all going to be about his production and performance. There are a lot of rookies who can’t run plays because they can’t figure it out yet. That’s not going to be the case with Tim. He’ll be able to do the things [veterans] do. […] You know what Tim doesn’t know about our playbook? Only what we haven’t told him yet.”

2 » Baltimore Ravens veteran linebacker Ray Lewis spoke out about Tebow’s progression into the NFL to ESPN’s Colin Cowherd on Thursday. Needless to say, the future Hall of Famer champion feels Tebow has received much more help than other players have coming into the league. “The thing I was more shocked by, is you see all the people who were willing to help him,” Lewis said. “I don’t know many people who were willing to help other athletes like that. Jon Gruden loved him to death. You see all these people who took out their personal time to really work with him and make this big issue, big issue, big issue. I don’t know why he was any different than anyone else. Every young child has that dream, that same dream that Tebow had. So I don’t know why he was bigger […] than any of the other guys. He went to a big program, and, yes, he might be a favorable person, but nobody else in the league, definitely not veteran players, see themselves differently than any other player.”

3 » Four former Gators golfers are currently competing in The PLAYERS Championship in Ponta Vedra Beach, FL, each hoping to take home a PGA Tour title. After a full day of action, Camilo Villegas and Brian Gay (-2) were tied for 47th with Mark Calcavecchia (+1) and Chris Couch (+2) bringing up the rear in the 100s. Each player will tee off for their second round from 1-2 p.m. on Friday.

4 » Florida lacrosse (10-7) stunned the crowd watching the quarterfinals of the American Lacrosse Conference Tournament in Columbus, OH, Thursday night by rocking the No. 20 Johns Hopkins Blue Jays (10-7) 14-3. Freshman goalie Cara Canington made a school-record 14 saves on 15 shots as classmates midfielder Kitty Cullen and attacker Ashley Bruns led the way with six and three goals, respectively. The ladies will advance to face No. 11 Vanderbilt at 5:30 p.m. on Friday in the semifinals. The Gators lost to the Commodores 12-7 in Gainesville, FL, earlier in the season.

Photo Credit: Andy Lyons/Getty Images

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FOUR BITS: Baseball, decathalon, golf in SECs

1 » A 90-minute rain delay did little to derail No. 7/9 Florida Gators baseball (24-9, 9-4 SEC) from taking a 10-8 win over the Kentucky Wildcats (21-13, 4-9 SEC) Friday night on the road at Cliff Hagan Stadium in Lexington, KY. Marking the 100th victory of head coach Kevin O’Sullivan’s career, the win was powered by a home run each from freshman catcher Austin Maddox (3-5) and senior outfielder Matt den Dekker (2-3). Sophomore Alex Panteliodis got the start but received a no-decision after giving up five earned runs in 5.1 innings. Senior reliever Jeff Barfield (2-0) tossed 1.1 innings for the win as junior closer Kevin Chapman earned his seventh save of the season with four strikeouts in 2.0 innings.

2 » From GatorZone: “Sophomore Florida multi-event athlete Gray Horn turned in the second-best decathlon score in school history Thursday, charting 7,566 total points to place third at the Mt. Sac Relays Multi-Events hosted by Azusa Pacific University at Cougar Stadium.”

3 » No. 4/6 men’s and No. 10/11 women’s golf are each currently competing in their respective 2010 Southeastern Conference Championships. After the first round of action, the men’s team is in a tie for second place while the women are struggling and are currently in ninth. The Gators’ men are just two strokes behind the leading Arkansas Razorbacks and have a chance to take the lead Saturday.

4 » By all accounts, former Florida defensive coordinator Charlie Strong is already doing an amazing job in his first head coaching gig with the Louisville Cardinals. Granted, it is only spring practice so far. Regardless, Sports Illustrated’s Andy Staples put out a nice piece about Strong on Monday, stating what OGGOA has long believed, that “schools nationwide are about to regret passing on Charlie Strong.”

Extra Bit » OGGOA has heard that Gators basketball’s Friday visit with Rutgers transfer guard Mike Rosario went really well. Some we have spoken with seem to believe he will be committing or already has committed. However, we are not able to confirm that at this point – just wanted to make our readers aware of what we are hearing.

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Wilkerson, Taylor inducted into 2010 Hall of Fame

Eight former letterwinners, including Gator Greats Brad Wilkerson (baseball), Fred Taylor (football) and Brian Gay (men’s golf), were inducted into the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame on April 9 as members of the 2010 class. The F Club and Gator Boosters, Inc. presented these honors at the Hall of Fame Banquet in the Holloway Touchdown Terrace.

According to UF, “inductees are divided into three different categories: Gator Greats, Distinguished Letterwinners and Honorary Letterwinners.” The remainder of the induction class included Gator Greats Leah Kirklin Anderson (women’s track & field), Jenny Manz Theis (volleyball) and Jason Odom (football) and Distinguished Letterwinners Laurie Burns (women’s golf) and William Freeman (men’s track & field).

More about each inductee and their individual career accomplishments after the jump.
Continue Reading » Wilkerson, Taylor inducted into 2010 Hall of Fame

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TWO BITS: Masters day two, Prather an all-star

1 » Former Florida Gators golfers Brian Gay and Camilo Villegas continued their trek through the 2010 Masters on Friday. Both players finished their first round with a 2-over 74 but finished the second day with contrasting totals. Gay continued struggling, hitting a 5-over 77 for a two-day total of +7 151; he is expected to miss the cut. Villegas, on the other hand, improved from his first outing shooting par (72); he remains just 2-over with a total of 146 and will likely make the cut to play the remainder of the tournament.

2 » Florida four-star 2010 forward commitment Casey Prather (Jackson, TN) knows he will have to do battle with the Florida State Seminoles as part of his new team’s annual schedule. However, before he puts on the orange and blue, Prather is teaming up with Florida State four-star point guard recruit Ian Miller (Charlotte, NC) at the Florida vs. USA Hardwood Classic all-star game in Orlando, FL. Prather, who averaged 23.1 points and 11 rebounds as a finalist for Tennessee’s Mr. Basketball honor, spoke with the Orlando Sentinel about the Gators. “I think [head coach Billy Donovan] likes the effort I bring,” Prather said. “I’m athletic and I can score, but I take pride in trying to stop a good player.” As for why he decided to play in this game? “I wanted to do something where some of the [Florida] fans can see me play.” The last recruit of Prather’s size and skill level who the Gators grabbed out of Tennessee? Now-Minnesota Timberwolves guard/forward Corey Brewer.

Photo Credit: Alan Diaz/Associated Press

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FOUR BITS: Yeguete, Masters, Lemmens, Strong

1 » The Gainesville Sun is reporting that 2010 power forward recruit Will Yeguete of Florida Air Academy will visit the Florida Gators this weekend. Yeguete – who is choosing between Florida, Indiana and Georgia Tech – would not the first to make the transition from FAA to UF; guard Walter Hodge did it just a few years ago.

2 » Day one of the 2010 Masters has come and gone, and two former Gators are already struggling. Both Brian Gay and Camilo Villegas finished their first round at 2-over par. Gay birdied four holes (2, 3, 7, 13), bogeyed four (6, 10, 12, 14) and double-bogeyed one (16) to finish with a score of 40 on the back nine. Villegas bogeyed three holes (3, 11, 13) and only earned one birdie (15), shooting a 37 out and in.

Two more BITS on Duke Lemmens and Charlie Strong…after the jump!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Yeguete, Masters, Lemmens, Strong

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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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