Florida softball wins six-straight to open season

By Mike Brandes – OnlyGators.com Contributor

No. 3 Florida Gators opened up the 2014 season with a clean sweep of the USF Wilson-DeMarini Tournament in Tampa, FL, winning six games over four days including a thriller over a ranked opponent.

Florida (6-0) outscored its competitors 40-13 over the weekend as junior right-handed pitcher Lauren Haeger, who was named Southeastern Conference Pitcher of the Week on Monday, shined by tossing her first-career no-hitter in the event’s penultimate matchup.

Starting off the season with a win for the eighth time in head coach Tim Walton’s nine-year tenure, the Gators topped the South Florida Bulls in their opening game. Senior RHP Hanna Rogers pitched seven innings, allowing three runs while recording six strikeouts. UF literally weathered the storm – a 25 minute rain delay – with its bats coming alive in the fourth inning.

Sophomore first baseman Taylor Schwarz led the way offensively with a bases-clearing three-RBI single in the fourth inning, which was part of a seven-run fourth for Florida. The Gators, which won 10-3, also benefited from some free passes. “We had 11 walks and five hit-by-pitches – that’s 16 free bases,” said Walton. “We had really solid plate discipline.”

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Florida baseball sweeps Illinois State 8-2, 8-0

No. 6/7 Florida Gators baseball (9-2) has completed a two-game sweep of the Illinois State Redbirds (4-7), defeating them 8-2 and 8-0 on Tuesday and Wednesday night at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville, FL.

Read more about Florida baseball’s sweep of Illinois State after the break!

On Tuesday, freshman starter Hudson Randall (2-0) tossed five innings of one-run ball along with five strikeouts as the Gators carried a 8-1 lead into the top of the eighth inning. Freshman first baseman Austin Maddox went 1-4 with a three-run home run in the sixth and two runs, while sophomore outfielder Tyler Thompson supported him with a 2-4 performance with two RBI.

Freshman OF Kamm Washington was 3-4 with an RBI and three stolen bases; Florida totalled a season-high nine swiped bags on the evening.

The Gators continued their domination of the Redbirds Wednesday, with Maddox remaining on his power surge. He drove in a career-high six runs on a 4-5 performance with his first career grand slam in the sixth inning.

Sophomore pitcher Anthony DeSclafani (1-1) registered the win after giving up only one hit in 5.1 innings with a season-high six strikeouts. The game marked Florida’s first shutout since Feb. 24, 2009 against Eastern Michigan (12-0).

The Gators remain home for eight more games and will begin a three-game series with Charleston Southern on Fri., March 12.

Photo Credit: University of Florida

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FOUR BITS: Baseball wins, lacrosse falls to No. 5

Bubble Watch » All four teams riding the 2010 NCAA Tournament bubble \in action Tuesday won their respective contests. South Florida (20-11) took down DePaul 58-49, Rhode Island (22-8) defeated Saint Joseph’s 87-76, Dayton (20-11) lit up George Washington 70-60 and Seton Hall (19-11) was victorious over Providence 109-106.

1 » In the first of what will be a 10-game homestand, No. 6/7 Florida Gators baseball (8-2) took down the Illinois State Redbirds (4-6) 8-2 Tuesday night at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville, FL. Freshman starter Hudson Randall (2-0) tossed five innings of one-run ball along with five strikeouts as the Gators carried a 8-1 lead into the top of the eighth inning. Freshman first baseman Austin Maddox went 1-4 with a home run in the sixth, three RBI and two runs; sophomore outfielder Tyler Thompson supported him with a 2-4 performance with two RBI; and freshman OF Kamm Washington was 3-4 with an RBI and three stolen bases.

2 » A team filled with mostly freshman, Florida lacrosse has already had a remarkable inaugural season. Looking to put a feather in its cap Tuesday, the Gators (3-2) took the No. 5 Georgetown Hoyas (2-1) to the wire, falling 13-11 in just under two hours. Freshman goalkeeper Cara Carrington (3-2) got the loss as fellow freshman Caroline Chesterman contributed three goals and five shots in 65 minutes of field time. Each team accounted for 33 shots and 11 ground balls, but Georgetown cleared more shots than Florida – 17/17 to 12/16. The Hoyas outscored the Gators 10-5 in the first period, but UF came roaring back with a 6-3 total in the second period.

Two more BITS on awards given to the Florida Gators…after the jump!
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Soccer moves on in NCAAs as volleyball falls

Earning a No. 3 regional seed in the 2009 NCAA Championship, the Florida Gators soccer team (16-5-2, 8-1-2 SEC) took down the Illinois State Redbirds (12-7-1, 5-1 MVC) 2-0 in the first round of the tournament Friday night at the Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus, OH. Going scoreless in the first half, the Gators turned it on after the break as sophomore Tahnai Annis and redshirt freshman McKenzie Barney scored two goals in a seven-minute span. Florida has advanced in the tournament and will face the Oregon State Beavers (13-7-1, 4-5 Pac 10) on Sunday at 1 p.m. in second round action.

Coming off an eight match streak where they swept each opponent in straight sets, the No. 10/11 Florida volleyball team (20-4, 14-3 SEC) was taken to task by the No. 19/17 LSU Tigers Friday evening in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. The Tigers beat the Gators 3-1 (24-26, 25-23, 25-19, 25-17), sweeping the regular season series between the two teams. LSU’s Brittnee Cooper and Marina Skender combined for 36 of 52 kills while Florida was led by sophomore outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel and her team-high 18 kills. Sophomore right-side/setter Kelly Murphy recorded her nation-leading eight triple-double of the season and the 14th of her career with 13 kills on .333 hitting with 29 assists and 15 digs. The Gators hit the road next weekend, traveling to Knoxville, TN, to face the Tennessee Volunteers on Friday, Nov. 20 at 7 p.m. Florida swept Tennessee in straight sets on Oct. 4.

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Gators women’s sports set for big day Friday

Three University of Florida women’s sports teams are set for action on Friday, each beginning one hour after another. First up is the Florida Gators soccer team (15-5-2, 8-1-2 SEC), which is in Columbus, OH, for the first round of the NCAA Championship. The Gators will face the Illinois State Redbirds (12-6-1, 5-1 MVC) at 5 p.m. at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. The winner of the match will face the victor of the Ohio State Buckeyes and Oregon State Beavers game on Sunday in second round action.

Also on the docket for Friday, the softball team (4-0) will host Chipola College in what is basically preseason action at 6 p.m. at Pressly Softball Stadium. So far this season, the Gators have played two games each against Santa Fe College and Seminole College, coming out victorious in all with an average 6.25 run margin of victory.

To close out the evening, No. 10 Florida volleyball (20-3, 14-2 SEC) will take on the Southeastern Conference West division-leading No. 19 LSU Tigers (20-5, 14-2 SEC). Since being swept 3-0 by the Tigers on Oct. 11 in Baton Rouge, LA, the Gators have been playing outstanding, scoring sweeps against eight consecutive opponents. Florida and LSU are tied for second place in the league standings with a victory Friday going a long way for the Gators. The game will air live from the Stephen C. O’Connell Center at 7 p.m. on SUN Sports.

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FOUR BITS: Tebow, Noah, Stamper, soccer/NCAA

1 » Not a lot of news came out of Monday’s weekly press conferences with head coach Urban Meyer and senior quarterback Tim Tebow, hence the absence of OGGOA‘s weekly post. One point Tebow did make to the press yesterday was that he is as healthy as can be. “I actually feel the best physically that I’ve felt in any season this late in the season,” Tebow said. “[My] body feels good and I feel refreshed, so that’s exciting going down the stretch.” Not receiving any more injections or special treatments is a testament to the work of strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti, whom Tebow credits for his health. “He did a really good job of just training me to be able to go out there and take hits. I felt like when I came into this season, I was in the best shape of my life.”

2 » Nick Friedell of the new ESPNChicago.com sat down with former Florida Gators forward/center Joakim Noah, now of the Chicago Bulls, for a wide-ranging interview on Monday. Noah touched on NBA fans hating him, making the playoffs with the Bulls, how he improved his game over the summer, the popularity of Tebow and his passion, respect and love for the University of Florida. “I felt like I was lucky enough to play on a team where guys really played for the right things,” Noah said of his time at Florida. “It wasn’t a question of who was scoring the ball or who was getting all the shots or anything like that. It was just all about winning.” He continued, “I think I went back [to Gainesville] three times this summer. I go back for a football game, and I go back for the elite camp for Coach [Billy] Donovan. And I think that’s something I’m going to do every year because I want to give back.”

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Tebow, Noah, Stamper, soccer/NCAA

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