BACK-2-BACK CHAMPS: Florida Gators softball wins 2015 WCWS, second straight national title

No. 1 Florida Gators softball became just the third program in the history of the sport to win back-to-back national championships, defeating the No. 3 Michigan Wolverines 4-1 on Wednesday in Game 3 of the 2015 Women’s College World Series Championship Series in Oklahoma City.

Senior right-handed pitcher Lauren Haeger (7.0 IP, 5 H, ER, BB, 5 K), the 2015 USA Softball Player of the Year, went the distance for Florida and also continued her dominance at the plate by going 1/1 with an RBI single and two intentional walks. With Wednesday’s performance a compliment to her tremendous effort throughout the event, she was named the Most Outstanding Player of the 2015 NCAA Tournament.

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Defensive lapses, ice cold bats doom Florida in 1-0 loss to Michigan in WCWS Championship Series

Early defensive lapses and an inability to make any serious contact at the plate doomed No. 1 Florida Gators softball (59-7) on Tuesday as the No. 3 Michigan Wolverines (60-7) scooted by with a 1-0 win to extend the 2015 Women’s College World Series Championship Series in Oklahoma City.

The best-of-three series will move to a game three on Wednesday as Florida, which was shutout for the first time this season, looks to win back-to-back national titles and become the first team in WCWS history to win the crown after losing game two of the championship series.

Wolverines right-handed pitcher Haylie Wagner stymied the Gators all night, striking out five and not allowing a single walk despite giving up six scattered hits. She has now thrown 20 shutout innings at the WCWS, a necessity in order to edge Florida senior RHP Lauren Haeger (6.0 IP, 4 H, ER, BB, K), who had a solid outing in her own right.

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Florida Gators softball escapes Michigan 3-2, wins game one of WCWS Championship Series

No. 1 Florida Gators softball had to sweat until the final out but eventually came through with a 3-2 victory over the No. 3 Michigan Wolverines on Monday night in the first game of the 2015 Women’s College World Series Championship Series in Oklahoma City.

The win was the Gators’ 15th consecutive NCAA Tournament victory, tying a national record. It also snapped a 28-game win streak held by the Wolverines.

With senior Lauren Haeger off the mound and on the bench resting, Florida freshman right-handed pitcher Aleshia Ocasio held Michigan scoreless for the first five innings of the game. Ocasio (6.0 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 3 K) faltered in the sixth, giving up two runs, but had plenty of run support from Haeger (2/3, HR, 3 RBI, R), who was responsible for all of the Gators’ runs on Monday.

“I was a little nervous, but this is what I came here for. I was ready,” Ocasio told ESPN after the contest.

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The Silver Lining: Florida Gators coaching staff changes continue under McElwain

New opportunities await after five solid years

The departure of defensive coordinator and interim head coach D.J. Durkin from the Florida Gators is a certainty now that new head coach Jim McElwain has hired Geoff Collins to coordinate his defense.

But while Durkin’s departure will be viewed as a simple changing of the guard, it should be noted that he’s had a major impact on the program during his time with the Gators.

In his fifth year with the team, Durkin was the second-longest tenured member of Florida’s coaching staff, second only to running backs coach Brian White (six seasons). He originally joined the Gators as a special teams coordinator under Urban Meyer; his unit was so effective, and he received such high praise from Meyer and Florida’s administration, that Will Muschamp thought it wise to retain Durkin (along with White) when he took over in 2011.

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Florida Gators officially hire Doug Nussmeier as offensive coordinator

Michigan Wolverines offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier, who was not expected to be retained after the team fired Brady Hoke after the regular season, has been hired as the next offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach of the Florida Gators.

New Gators head coach Jim McElwain tabbed Nussmeier as his second staff hire after naming Mississippi State defensive coordinator Geoff Collins to the same position at Florida last week.

“Doug and I have worked together on the same staff and I’ve known him for years,” McElwain said in a school release. “We are like thinkers in that he will adapt to the players we have in the program and develop them as we continue to evolve.”

Unlike Collins, Nussmeier has worked on the same staff as McElwain. When McElwain was serving as Michigan State’s associate head coach, wide receivers coach and special teams coordinator under John L. Smith from 2003-05, Nussmeier was Smith’s quarterbacks coach.

He also succeeded McElwain twice, first as offensive coordinator at Fresno State (2008) and then again as offensive coordinator at Alabama (2012-13).

“I’m excited to reunite with Coach Mac – we obviously have a long history and share similar philosophies,” Nussmeier said in the release. “I’m honored to join The Gator Nation and work for one of the most storied programs in all of college football.”

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Reports: Doug Nussmeier tabbed by Jim McElwain to be Florida offensive coordinator

Michigan Wolverines offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier, who was not expected to be retained after the team fired Brady Hoke after the regular season, is set to become the next offensive coordinator of the Florida Gators.

According to SI.com‘s Thayer Evans and FoxSports.com‘s Bruce Feldman, new Gators head coach Jim McElwain tabbed Nussmeier as his second staff hire after naming Mississippi State defensive coordinator Geoff Collins to the same position at Florida last week.

Unlike Collins, Nussmeier has worked on the same staff as McElwain. When McElwain was serving as Michigan State’s associate head coach, wide receivers coach and special teams coordinator under John L. Smith from 2003-05, Nussmeier was Smith’s quarterbacks coach.

He also succeeded McElwain twice, first as offensive coordinator at Fresno State (2008) and then again as offensive coordinator at Alabama (2012-13).

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Michigan F Jon Horford transfers to Florida

Updated on Tuesday, May 13 at 5 p.m.

Forward Jon Horford, a Michigan Wolverines transfer and the brother of former Florida Gators standout Al Horford, has decided to play out his final year of eligibility in Gainesville, Florida, according to ESPN.com‘s Jeff Goodman.

Entering his redshirt senior campaign, Jon Horford (6-foot-10, 250 pounds) will be eligible to play immediately due to the NCAA’s graduate transfer exemption after receiving his undergraduate degree from Michigan in May.

The school announced his transfer on May 13, noting that he started graduate-level classes when the Summer A semester began on May 12.

Florida has a crowded frontcourt in 2014-15 but should be able to find a fair amount of playing time for Horford. He averaged 3.8 points and 4.2 rebounds in 13.8 minutes per contest last season and originally decided to transfer to see more time on the court.

That may not be possible with the Gators, which will have sophomore Chris Walker, redshirt senior Damontre Harris, redshirt juniors Dorian Finney-Smith and Alex Murphy, and five-star incoming freshman Devin Robinson in the frontcourt.

Walker is likely to start at power forward or center next to either Harris or Murphy with Finney-Smith playing small forward. Horford will give Florida a big body and great energy off the bench to spell Walker and Harris but could see an uptick in playing time should Harris once again fall out of favor with the program.

With Horford’s transfer, UF has filled its final scholarship for the 2014-15 campaign.

Four-star guard Brandone Francis and four-star point guard Chris Chiozza are the other two incoming freshman aside from Robinson. All three first-year players are ranked among the top 42 prospects in the nation for 2014, according to Rivals.com.

Murphy will not be eligible until the spring semester after transferring in the middle of the 2013-14 season; however, the Gators plan to petition the NCAA for a waiver that would allow the legacy to play at the start of the campaign.

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TWO BITS: Horford transfer, Easley Pro Day

1 » According to ESPN.com‘s Jeff Goodman, redshirt junior forward Jon Horford, a Michigan Wolverines transfer and the brother of former Florida Gators F Al Horford, is heavily considering choosing to play the final year of his collegiate career in Gainesville, FL. Jon Horford (6-foot-10, 250 pounds) will be a redshirt senior in 2014-15 and cleared to play without having to sit out a season. He registered 3.8 points and 4.2 rebounds in 13.8 minutes per game for Michigan last season and decided to transfer in order to get more playing time. That is one reason why a move to Florida was not believed to be on the table previously. Though the Gators are in need of frontcourt players, they do have freshman Chris Walker and redshirt junior Damontre Harris at center next season. Florida will also play redshirt juniors Alex Murphy (currently not scheduled to be eligible until the spring), redshirt junior Dorian Finney-Smith and incoming freshman Devin Robinson, though the latter two players will likely play small forward. Horford’s addition would fill UF’s remaining 2014-15 scholarship but not affect the allotment for 2015-16.

2 » Gators defensive tackle Dominique Easley has spent the last seven months rehabilitating his torn ACL but is finally getting the chance to show NFL teams what he can do on Thursday as he is participating in a private Pro Day at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville. Joining Easley for the workout are outside linebackers Ronald Powell and Darrin Kitchens, who also participated in Florida’s first Pro Day one month earlier on March 17. Easley recently completed a visit with the Dallas Cowboys, his first private trip, and is expected to go on many more after his Pro Day workout is complete. Projections for Easley range from the second to fifth round, but he is likely to be taken on the second day of the 2014 NFL Draft as long as he can prove he’s healthy.

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