Gators cage Bulldogs 11-1 in Super Regional

On a scorching day at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville, FL, nothing was hotter than the home team’s offense. Scoring in the first five innings of the game, No. 2 Florida Gators baseball (49-16) demolished the Mississippi State Bulldogs (37-24) 11-1 in the first of the three-game Super Regional series taking place over the weekend.

Florida’s offense was not the only thing on fire Friday as sophomore left-handed pitcher Hudson Randall (10-3) was absolute dynamite on the mound, only allowing a single earned run while striking out a season-high eight batters in eight innings of work.

The Gators’ offense was potent out of the gate, plating four runs in the first. Sophomore shortstop Nolan Fontana led off with a walk and was joined on base by senior center fielder Bryson Smith and junior right fielder Preston Tucker (0-3, R, 2 BB), who reached via a single and walk, respectively. Sophomore catcher Mike Zunino capitalized with a bases loaded two-RBI double, and senior left fielder Tyler Thompson (1-5, 2 RBI) followed suit two batters later to help another pair of runs cross the plate.

Fontana (1-4, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R, BB) connected with a two-run homer to right in the second, and Zunino (2-4, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R, BB) added a solo shot on the first pitch of the third to provide Florida with an early 7-0 advantage that the team hoped to improve upon.

That is exactly what the Gators did in the fourth, as Smith hit a one-out single up the middle to plate freshman third baseman Cody Dent (1-1, RBI, 2 R, 2 BB), and senior second baseman Josh Adams (2-5, RBI) singled through the left side of the infield to score Smith (3-5, RBI, R). Florida tacked in one more run in the seventh via a solo shot by junior designated player Daniel Pigott (1-4, HR, RBI, R).

The Gators improved to 34-9 all-time at home during NCAA play and are now 37-6 when scoring first and 40-2 when out-hitting their opponent this season.

With the series-opening victory, Florida needs only one more win to advance to the 2011 College World Series for the second-straight year. It would be the first time in school history that the Gators would make an appearance in the CWS in consecutive seasons.

Game two of the Gainesville Super Regional takes place Saturday at 12 p.m. and airs live on ESPN and ESPN3.com. Game three, if necessary, will begin Sunday at 1 p.m.

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Gainesville Super Regional: Florida vs. Miss. State

Event: 2011 NCAA Tournament – Super Regional
Location: McKeethan Stadium – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 5,500]
Time: 12:00 p.m. (ET)

TV: ESPN2 / ESPN2HD
Online Video: ESPN3.com
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

(2) FLORIDA GATORS MISSISSIPPI STATE BULLDOGS
Head Coach: Kevin O’Sullivan Head Coach: John Cohen
Record: 48-16 Record: 37-23
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

PROJECTED STARTERS

Game 1: Sophomore LHP Hudson Randall (9-3, 2.38 ERA, 0.98 WHIP)
Game 2: Freshman RHP Karsten Whitson (8-0, 2.42 ERA, 1.18 WHIP)
Game 3: Sophomore RHP Brian Johnson (8-3, 3.66 ERA, 1.15 WHIP) OR
junior RHP Alex Panteliodis (6-2, 3.76 ERA, 1.17 WHIP)

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Florida is 53-40 in the all-time series against Mississippi State, though MSU is 1-0 vs. UF NCAA Tournament play.
» The first team to win two games in the three-game series will advanced to the 65th NCAA College World Series.
» This is the Gators’ third-straight Super Regional appearance and fifth in the last eight years. Florida has only been to five in school history.
» This is the Bulldogs’ fourth Super Regional appearance in school history.
» Should Florida advance to the CWS, it will be the first time in school history they have done so in back-to-back seasons.
» The Gators are 33-9 (.786) all-time at home during NCAA play.
» Florida is 3-1 against Mississippi State this season, losing the first of a three-game series in Starkville, MS (7-5) before winning three-straight games including a SEC Tournament first-round match-up (18-0, 3-1, 7-5).
» MSU head coach John Cohen is a former UF assistant under Pat McMahon.
» This is the first time the Gators have faced a SEC opponent in Super Regional action.
» The UF and MSU boast different strengths. Florida leads Mississippi State in batting average (.311-.282), runs scored (413-369), hits (683-566), homers (58-28), RBI (382-327), ERA (2.97-4.24), strikeouts (486-471) and fielding percentage (.974-.973). However, the Bulldogs hold advantages in steals (88-56), walks (260-214), on-base percentage (.384-.382) and saves (16-14).

LAST TIME OUT…

Down 5-2 in a close game in the first round of the SEC Tournament, the Gators used a grand slam by sophomore designated hitter Brian Johnson to take a 7-5 lead and eventually advance in the event.

KNOW THE OPPONENT

Mississippi State is the second-ranked team in the SEC West after finishing with a 14-16 record in league play. The Bulldogs are 11-9 away from home and 9-10 against top 25 opponents this season. Florida has won six of the last seven meetings against MSU dating back to a three-game series that took place in 2010.

INJURY REPORT

Sophomore LHP/DH Brian Johnson – concussion
Out for game one
Sophomore 1B/RHP Austin Maddox – foot
Out for game one, day-to-day for series

KEEP AN EYE ON…

» UF’s starting pitchers…which are a combined 21-2 (.913) with a 2.01 ERA in the friendly confines of McKethan Stadium this season.
» The Gators’ bats…which have scored 190 more runs than their opponents this year.
» Early offense…Florida is 36-6 (.857) when scoring first and 39-2 (.951) when out-hitting their opponent in a contest.
» Sophomore catcher Mike Zunino…a powerhouse at the plate who leads the team in batting average (.371), hits (86), homers (16), runs (68), slugging (.668)…and strikeouts (45). He also has 62 RBI on the season.
» Sophomore shortstop Nolan Fontana…arguably the strongest fielder on the team who has also come on as of late offensively. Fontana, as the team’s leadoff hitter, is hitting .309 with 71 hits, 52 runs, 44 RBI and a team-high 45 walks.
» Junior right fielder Preston Tucker…who is the Gators’ best run producer with 65 RBI on the season. Tucker is hitting .319 with 81 hits, 51 runs, 13 homers and 24 walks.
» Junior reliever Nick Maronde…who has made a team-high 31 appearances and has posted a 1.66 ERA with two saves in 38 innings. He has amassed 50 strikeouts compared to only seven walks this season, and only six of the 24 hits he has allowed have been for extra bases.
» Third baseman Jarrod Parks…who leads MSU in batting average (.365), hits (73), RBI (36) and walks (43) and has also scored 50 runs in 200 at-bats this season.
» Second baseman Nick Vickerson…the Bulldogs’ speedster who hits .314 with a team-high 53 runs scored, seven homers, 35 walks and a team-high 25 stolen bases.

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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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Gators blank Crimson Tide 6-0 in SEC Tournament

As has been the case throughout the 2011 season, No. 2 Florida Gators baseball (43-15) was too much for the Alabama Crimson Tide (33-25) on Thursday, shutting them out 6-0 to advance in the winner’s bracket of the 2011 Southeastern Conference Tournament and reach the semifinal round of the event.

Florida sophomore right-handed pitcher Hudson Randall (9-3) was the star of the show, tossing eight shutout while only allowing four singles and striking out two batters on the afternoon. He is now 3-0 in his career against Alabama and has not allowed the Crimson Tide to score a single run in his 21.1 innings against them.

Equally impressive for the Gators’ offense on Thursday were senior center fielder Bryson Smith and junior left fielder Daniel Pigott. Smith (4-5, 3 RBI, R) plated three runners on the afternoon while Pigott (4-4, 3 R) crossed home on three occasions. No other Florida players connected on more than once.

The Gators scored the majority of their runs right out of the gate with pairs in the top of the first and second inning. Smith also recorded RBI in the top fourth and ninth to give Florida it’s final six-run advantage.

UF moves on to face the winner of South Carolina/Georgia, which is being played Friday. The contest will take place Saturday with coverage available via Sun Sports (in certain markets) and ESPN3.com.

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Mike Zunino named 2011 SEC Player of the Year; seven teammates awarded All-SEC honors

The team’s leader in hits, runs, home runs, RBI, total bases and slugging percentage, Florida Gators sophomore catcher Mike Zunino was named the 2011 Southeastern Conference Player of the Year by the league’s coaches on Tuesday.

He is the second University of Florida baseball player to ever win the award. Former Gators first baseman Matt LaPorta captured the honor in 2005 and 2007.

A terror at the plate for Florida all season, Zunino leads the conference in home runs (15), RBI (59), runs scored (62) and total bases (141); he is second in the SEC in batting average (.383, -.002) and slugging percentage (.701, -.008). Zunino is also tied for third in doubles (19), places fifth in on-base percentage (.455) and is tied for sixth in hits (77).

He was named to the 2011 All-SEC First Team alongside teammates junior outfielder Preston Tucker and sophomore designated hitter Brian Johnson. Also on the team are Vanderbilt’s Aaron Westlake, Tony Kemp and Grayson Garvin; South Carolina’s Scott Wingo, Michael Roth and Matt Price; Kentucky’s Casey McElroy; LSU’s Mikie Mahtook; and Auburn’s Casey McElroy.

His Gators teammates – senior second baseman Josh Adams, sophomore shortstop Nolan Fontana and sophomore right-handed pitcher Hudson Randall – were placed on the All-SEC Second Team. RHP Karsten Whitson and third baseman Zack Powers were honored on the 2011 SEC All-Freshman Team, and both Zunino and Fontana earned spots on the 2011 SEC All-Defensive Team.

It is the first time in UF history that student-athletes representing the school have won SEC Player of the Year in baseball and softball (senior left fielder Kelsey Bruder). Florida now has 11 SEC Players of the Year for 2010-11 also including Chandler Parsons (men’s basketball), Bank Vongvanij (men’s golf), Christian Taylor (men’s indoor track & field), Will Claye (men’s outdoor track & field), Conor Dwyer (men’s swimming), Monica Dodson (women’s diving), Kathryn Williamson (women’s soccer), Allie Will (women’s tennis) and Kelly Murphy (volleyball). Gators lacrosse’s Kitty Cullen also won ALC Player of the Year.

Photo Credits: The News-Press, John Korduner/Icon SMI

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Florida shares SEC lead after Vanderbilt series

Fighting and clawing their way through a three-game road series against the No. 2 Vanderbilt Commodores over the weekend, No. 5 Florida Gators baseball won two of three games over a four-day span that included an extra-inning finale to create a three-way tie for first place in the Southeastern Conference regular season standings.

FRIDAY: Florida hit the road hoping to take advantage of Vanderbilt early and often. They had no such luck during their first day as sophomore right-handed pitcher Hudson Randall drew the start and gave up four runs (two earned) on eight hits in five innings without striking out a single batter. The Gators trailed the Commodores 4-2 through five innings before rain and lightning suspended the game until Saturday.

SATURDAY: The second half of the game begin with a pair of scoreless frames. Then Florida tied it up 4-4 in the top of the seventh. With one out and redshirt sophomore first baseman Vickash Ramjit (1-2, R) on base after smacking a lead-off single up the middle, sophomore shortstop Nolan Fontana (1-3, HR, 2 RBI, R, BB) homered to right field to even up the contest. Vanderbilt took a one-run lead in the bottom of the eighth, but UF did what they could to take advantage of their three remaining outs.

Senior second baseman Josh Adams (1-4, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R) led off the inning with a solo shot to left to tie the game. Then, after junior left fielder Daniel Pigott (1-4, R) singled to left field with one out and advanced to second on a wild pitch, senior center fielder Bryson Smith (1-5, RBI) doubled to right to score Pigott before the frame ended two batters later. Junior RHP Anthony DeSclafani (5-2) picked up the win after getting the final two outs of the eighth, and sophomore RHP Austin Maddox earned his second save of the season by pitching a hitless ninth.

Just a few hours later, the Gators and Commodores went at it again. Florida took an early 1-0 lead in the second game of the series after Smith (1-4, HR, RBI, R) homered in the top of the third, but Vanderbilt piled it on from there scoring two runs in the bottom of the inning, six in the fifth, two in the sixth and four more in the seventh to annihilate UF 14-1. Sophomore left-handed pitcher Brian Johnson (7-3) had the worst start of his career, allowing eight earned runs on nine hits in 4.1 innings of work. If that wasn’t enough, freshman LHP Daniel Gibson, the second reliever out of the bullpen, coughed up five earned runs on five hits in two-thirds of an inning.

SUNDAY: With the series even and VU still holding down first place in the SEC, the Gators had their work cut out for them in the rubber match. Freshman RHP Karsten Whitson got the call for Florida but only lasted 4.1 innings after giving up three earned runs on five hits while striking out five. Vanderbilt led 3-1 through the first four innings with UF’s sole run coming on a solo homer by Maddox in the top of the second.

Junior LHP Nick Maronde relieved Whitson and played top-notch ball for the Gators, striking out three and only allowing a single hit in 3.1 innings. His efforts allowed Florida to tie the game with single runs in the seventh and eighth inning. Sophomore catcher Mike Zunino smacked a solo shot to start the seventh, and the Gators rallied in the eighth to get Fontana (3-5, 2 R) home from third base. With the bases loaded and one out, Zunino hit a sacrifice fly to left field to tie the game 3-3.

The Commodores blew a chance in the ninth by stranding a pair of runners, and both teams left two on base with one out in their portion of the 10th. Vanderbilt got Florida to ground out thrice in the 11th, and junior RHP Tommy Toledo struck out back-to-back batters with the winning run on third base in the bottom of the inning.

The Gators took a breath and entered the 12th hoping to bring the game home. Fontana walked on a full count to start the inning, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt and was joined on base by Tucker, who was intentionally walked. The Commodores called for a pitching change, replacing Jack Armstrong with Navery Moore. After working Moore to a full count, Zunino (2-5, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 2 R) hit a three-run homer to right field to give UF (39-13, 20-7 SEC) a 6-3 lead and clinch the series at VU (42-8, 20-7 SEC). Toledo (3-3) picked up the win after striking out three in two full innings.

The victory propels Florida into a three-way tie for the SEC lead with Vanderbilt and South Carolina. Each team sports a 20-7 conference record and is set for a separate three-game series next weekend. UF will host Kentucky Thursday-Saturday at home after facing Jacksonville on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

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Florida softball sweeps Tennessee, wins SEC East; baseball falls to Arkansas in road series

It was a special weekend for Florida Gators softball, which sent its seniors off with a two-day celebration concluding in the team’s fourth-straight Southeastern Conference East division title. The baseball team, on the other hand, fought through a three-game road series that left their chances at a regular season title up for grabs.

SOFTBALL

Just two days after a hard-fought 1-0 victory at home against Florida State, No. 4 Florida softball was just as scrappy against the No. 3 Tennessee Volunteers on Friday, breaking a 3-3 tie with a solo home run from lead-off hitter freshman shortstop Cheyenne Coyle (1-2, HR, RBI, 2 R, BB) in the bottom of the seventh inning to earn a 4-3 victory. Senior right-handed pitcher Stephanie Brombacher drew the start for the Gators but was pulled after giving up three earned runs and only striking out two batters in 4.2 innings. Florida was down 3-1 heading into the bottom of the fifth but rallied with two outs to tie the game. Freshman RHP Hannah Rogers came on for the final 2.1 innings, striking out four and only allowing a single hit to earn the victory.

The Gators took advantage of the Volunteers early in Saturday’s game and held on to a two-run lead earned in the first frame to win the series with a 2-0 victory. With one out, senior second baseman Aja Paculba (2-3, R) singled to left field; senior left fielder Kelsey Bruder (1-3, HR, 2 RBI, R) followed her by stepping up to the plate and smacking a homer to center field on a full count for the game’s only runs. Brombacher (3.1 IP, 2 K, 3 H) once again earned the start for Florida, but Rogers (3.2 IP, 4 K, 3 H) threw the second half of the contest to earn her second win over Tennessee. Saturday also marked the first half of UF softball’s Senior Day. Brombacher and catcher Tiffany DeFelice were honored prior to the game, which resulted in the team’s 24th shutout win on the year.

Putting everything together on Sunday, the Gators (47-8, 21-7 SEC) started hot out of the gate and routed the Volunteers (44-10, 20-8 SEC) 7-2 to conclude regular season action with nine-straight victories while simultaneously capturing the SEC East division title. Rogers (30-5) tossed a complete game, allowing single runs in the first and fifth innings on a total of five hits. Down 1-0 after the first three outs, Florida scored two runs in the bottom of the first and added another in the second. The Gators then poured on four runs in the fourth including a lead-off dinger from designated player Kelsey Horton (2-3, HR, RBI, R) on the first pitch she saw. Also performing well Sunday were junior center fielder Michelle Moultrie (2-4, 2 R), Paculba (2-3, RBI, 2 R, BB), Bruder (1-3, RBI, R, BB) and sophomore right fielder Brittany Schutte (2-4, 2 RBI, R). Florida honored Bruder, Paculba and first baseman Megan Bush before the game as the second half of the school’s senior day festivities. The day ended with the Gators not only capturing their fourth-straight SEC East crown (fifth overall) but also having won 17 of their last 18 games.

With their regular season now complete, UF has earend the No. 2 overall seed in the 2011 SEC tournament, which they will begin on Thursday with a first-round game against No. 7-seed Auburn. The game will air live on ESPNU at 1:30 p.m.

BASEBALL

No. 4 Florida baseball saw its dominant seven-game winning streak come to an end Thursday in Fayetteville, AR as they blew a 3-1 lead through six innings to fall 4-3 to the No. 18 Arkansas Razorbacks. After scattering hits through his first five innings, starter sophomore RHP Hudson Randall (8-2) allowed a triple and home run in back-to-back at-bats in the bottom of the sixth that let Arkansas tie the game at three runs apiece. Randall gave up his second homer of the game two innings later, and the Razorbacks escaped the first game of the series with a victory. Three Gators – junior right fielder Preston Tucker (2-4, RBI, R), senior 2B Josh Adams (2-3, R) and junior LF Daniel Pigott (2-2, RBI) – notched pairs of hits in the contest, but the team simply could not capitalize when it counted.

Florida fought from behind all night on Friday and eventually fell to Arkansas 5-3, dropping the road series after the first two games. Sophomore left-handed pitcher Brian Johnson (7-2) lost his second game of the season after allowing three earned runs (four total) in just four innings of work. The Gators trailed from the first inning on, taking their only lead at 2-1 in the third before the Razorbacks scored three runs in the bottom of the inning to jump back ahead 4-2.

Florida (36-12, 18-6 SEC) got back to its winning ways on Saturday, rallying for three runs in the top of the seventh inning to slay Arkansas (32-15, 12-12 SEC) 5-3; it was the Gators’ first road win against the Razorbacks since 2005 (eight games). Freshman RHP Karsten Whitson (5.2 IP, 6 K, 3 ER, 6 H) shut out Arkansas through the first four innings of the game and allowed Florida to take an early 2-0 lead. The Razorbacks would respond with a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth, but sophomore RHP Austin Maddox came in to get the final out and stop the bleeding for the Gators. Florida responded with a fierce rally that scored three in the seventh. Three-straight singles ending with one from Tucker (1-4, RBI, R) scored sophomore SS Nolan Fontana (2-5, RBI, 2 R) from third to tie the game and another up the middle by Pigott (2-4, 2 RBI, R) allowed two more runs to cross the plate for the Gators. Maddox (2-0) tossed the final three innings, striking out one and walking one as Florida held on for the victory.

The Gators remain in the hunt for the SEC title but have two more series (on the road against Vanderbilt and at home against Kentucky) to play along with two non-conference games (home vs. North Florida and Jacksonville) before the regular season concludes. Vanderbilt leads the SEC with a 19-5 record, but Florida and South Carolina are both just a game back at 18-6.

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Florida baseball, softball win six in three days

It was another dominant weekend for the Florida Gators baseball and softball teams, which combined to win six games while outscoring their opponents by an impressive total of 41-7. Below are abbreviated recaps of each victory to keep you up-to-date with how Florida is performing week-in and week-out on the diamond.

BASEBALL

Hosting the Ole Miss Rebels at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville, FL, No. 4/5 Gators baseball barely allowed their visitors to catch a breath on Friday, scoring in every inning except one on the way to a 9-3 victory fueled by 17 hits and a pair of 4-5 performances from senior second baseman Josh Adams (RBI, R) and redshirt sophomore first baseman Vickash Ramjit (RBI, 2 R). Florida had plenty of offense with two RBI each coming from sophomore catcher Mike Zunino (1-4, BB), sophomore third baseman Austin Maddox (2-4, R) and sophomore designated hitter Brian Johnson (2-4, R). Sophomore right-handed pitcher Hudson Randall (8-1) picked up the victory by striking out six and only allowing three earned runs on six hits in 7.1 innings of work.

The Gators kept their foot on the pedal Saturday, scoring pairs of runs in four innings on the way to an 8-1 victory behind a superb performance from left-handed pitcher Johnson (7-1), who struck out a career-high nine batters in 6.2 innings. Zunino (2-4, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R) and junior third baseman Jeff Moyer (2-4, HR 2 RBI, R) each hit a home run in the contest with Johnson (2-3, R) and Maddox (1-4, RBI, R) also contributing at the plate.

Wrapping up the series Sunday was freshman RHP Karsten Whitson (6-0), who remained undefeated by tossing four strikeouts in six scoreless innings. Florida (34-10,17-4 SEC) jumped up 2-0 early and led 7-0 before Ole Miss (24-20,9-12 SEC) even got on the board in the seventh. Zunino (4-4, 4 RBI, 2 R) continued his scorching weekend, and junior right fielder Preston Tucker (2-4, 2 RBI) drove in runs in the first and fifth innings to give the Gators a 7-2 victory.

A home game against Bethune-Cookman is upcoming for Florida on Tuesday before they hit the road for a three-game series at Arkansas Thursday-Saturday.

SOFTBALL

No. 5/7 Gators softball hit the road to take on the South Carolina Gamecocks for their three-game weekend series. Florida shut out South Carolina 5-0 on Friday behind five strong innings from senior ace RHP Stephanie Brombacher (16-1). She was supported by freshman shortstop Cheyenne Coyle (1-2, HR, 2 RBI, R, BB), senior 1B Megan Bush (1-3, 2 RBI) and senior left fielder Kelsey Bruder (2-4, 2 R) as well as freshman RHP Hannah Rogers, who threw the final two innings of the game to close things out.

Brombacher got the nod again on Saturday for UF but only threw four innings before Rogers was given the reigns the rest of the way and picked up the win. The Gators torched the Gamecocks 6-1, scoring six-straight runs in the final three innings of the game after being faced with a 1-0 deficit since the first inning. Sophomore RF Brittany Schutte (2-4, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R, BB) was the offensive star and was supported by solid efforts from Bush (1-3, 2 RBI, BB) and Coyle (1-2, RBI, BB).

Rogers (27-5) was left to her own devices Sunday and came through in a big way, tossing a complete game and only giving up a single earned run. Schutte (2-3, HR 2 RBI, R, BB) and Coyle (1-3, HR, 2 RBI, R) continued their phenomenal weekends at the plate as Florida (43-8, 18-7 SEC) led South Carolina (25-27, 6-19 SEC) from start-to-finish and proved they were the team to beat over the weekend.

UF faces a four-game homestand to end the regular season this week, taking on Florida State on Wednesday before going up against Tennessee in the weekend series.

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