The fourth-longest game ever played at the Women’s College World Series ended in celebration for No. 2 Florida Gators softball, which needed 15 innings and more than five hours to prevail 9-8 and eliminate the No. 14 Nebraska Cornhuskers from the 2013 NCAA Tournament. Florida (58-8) lost two separate leads on Saturday before rallying to score two runs in the top of the 15th, exactly the number it needed to take down Nebraska (45-16) and continue its storybook season.
The Gators flashed offense by loading the bases in the third but did not score until the fifth, when UF posted all six of the runs it plated during regulation. An incredible bottom of the seventh kept the Cornhuskers in the game, and a run by each team in the 10th inning extended Saturday’s contest even further.
Junior right-handed pitcher Hannah Rogers (8.0 IP, 11 H, 7 R [6 ER], 3 BB, K) – two days after lasting less than an inning in Florida’s WCWS opener – showed a renewed focus for the first six innings but unraveled in the final frame of regulation. She returned in the 15th and gave up another run but held on for the save. Sophomore RHP Lauren Haeger (7.0 IP, 3 H, ER, 4 BB, 4 K) was terrific in innings 8-14, keeping the Gators in the contest and picking up the victory.
Former four-star 2011 recruit Tyler Moore (Clearwater, FL), an offensive lineman who was set to start at left tackle for the Nebraska Cornhuskers this season but instead decided to leave the program and skip the 2012 campaign due to being unhappy at the school, has chosen to transfer and play for the Florida Gators.
According to ESPN, which first reported the player’s decision on Thursday, Moore chose UF over Florida State as his next destination because of his “comfort level with the Florida coaches” including head coach Will Muschamp.
“I’ve never seen a staff work as hard as their staff,” his father Brian Moore told ESPN. “From Muschamp, to the strength coach [Jeff] Dillman, to the director of player personnel Jon Haskins, there was just a different energy at Florida.”
Since Moore left the Cornhuskers prior to the 2012 season and enrolled at a community college, he is able to take this year as a redshirt and will be eligible to play for the Gators beginning in 2013. Florida added Max Garcia (Norcross, GA) as a transfer from Maryland in the offseason, which means the Gators will have two brand new offensive linemen available to play at the start of next season.
Moore, the No. 67 overall player in the nation as ranked by Rivals in 2011, played in nine games and made four starts at right tackle as a freshman with Nebraska in 2011; Garcia made 12 starts at left tackle for Maryland as a sophomore that same year.
The Cornhuskers had Moore listed at 6’6″ and between 290-305 lbs. in their latest update to his profile. The team’s website notes that he is the “first true freshman offensive lineman in school history to start [a Nebraska] season opener” and has the “most starts by a true offensive lineman in school history.”
The Gators are set to lose two starting offensive linemen (and one reserve) to graduation this season though Florida has only one player at that position committed as a member of their 2013 recruiting class.
1 » Florida Gators point guard Erving Walker was honored on Senior Day before Sunday’s game. Because the game aired on CBS and the broadcast began following the ceremony, most fans did not get to see Walker enter the court with his mother to a loud ovation from his fans. The entire clip, including the video highlight package of some of Walker’s best plays in orange and blue, can be viewed below courtesy of GatorVision.tv:
2 » No. 3 Florida softball improved to 19-1 on the season and extended their winning streak to nine games after winning six contests from Thursday-Sunday by a combined score of 53-1. UF defeated Eastern Michigan 2-1 in extra innings on Thursday before beginning the Lipton Invitational, which the team hosted in Gainesville, FL. The Gators again beat EMU on Friday (16-0) and followed that up with a thrashing of Gardner-Webb (9-0) in the evening. Florida beat GWU a second time on Saturday (14-0), adding a win against Tennessee State (8-0) later that afternoon and a victory over Campbell (4-0) on Sunday. Sophomore right-handed pitcher Hannah Rogers (10-0) earned two wins striking out 19 batters and giving up one earned run in 17.0 innings (she also made one relief appearance). Freshmen RHPs Alyssa Bache (3-0) and Lauren Haeger (6-1) each added two victories with neither giving up a single run and the latter mowing down 15 batters in 10.0 innings. The Gators’ offense was impressive all weekend long, but two players in particular stood out for their powerful performances. Senior center fielder Michelle Moultrie went 12/20 with four home runs, 10 RBIs, 11 runs and three stolen bases over the six games, and junior catcher Kelsey Horton matched her with four dingers of her own alog with 14 RBIs, six runs and three walks. UF will play five road games this week including two against Mississippi State and three at Tennessee.
3 » It is looking more and more like Cincinnati Bengals safety Reggie Nelson will be wearing different colors in 2012. With no reports of negotiations for an extension occurring between Nelson and Cincinnati brass, the local media expects that he will hit the market as an unrestricted free agent next week. Should that occur, it is believed that the Miami Dolphins and Tennessee Titans will make a run at him. The Dolphins in particular look like a promising landing spot for Nelson considering former Bengals defensive backs coach Kevin Coyle, who helped resurrect Nelson’s career in Cincinnati, was hired as Miami’s new defensive coordinator after the season.
4 » No. 1 Florida gymnastics (10-1) earned a nail-biting victory on the road Sunday against the No. 6 Nebraska Cornhuskers (10-2). The Gators defeated the Cornhuskers 196.95-196.825, earning two individual event victories while only winning one of the four overall events. junior Ashanée Dickerson and sophomore Alaina Johnson each won the vault with a score of 9.90, while junior Marissa King took home the balance beam victory with a 9.925 mark. Florida’s sizable win in the beam (49.325-48.950) was enough to push them past Nebraska in the overall score. UF will take on No. 7 Utah in their regular season finale on Senior Night on Friday, March 16 at 7 p.m.
5 » No. 4 Gators lacrosse (4-2) dropped their second game to a top-10 ranked opponent this season, falling 12-11 in double overtime to the No. 9 Syracuse Orange (2-2) at Donald R. Dizney Stadium in Gainesville. Behind 6-4 at the half, Florida rallied over the final three minutes of the second period, scoring three-straight goals to knot the contest at 10 as the whistle sounded. SU got on the board first in overtime, but UF matched their visitors again to force a sudden death second overtime period. The Orange did not take long to make their move, scoring at 5:05 to end the game. Junior midfielder Brittany Dashiell led the Gators with three goals (including the tying score in the first overtime), an assist, six draw controls and five ground balls (a season high for the team), while junior attacker Kitty Cullen had an off game with only one goal in 10 shots. Despite scoring fewer goals than their opponent, Florida had more shots than Syracuse (39-26) and committed fewer turnovers (9-20). UF is scheduled to face Georgetown on the road Wednesday before returning home to host Temple on Saturday.
6 » Both involved in close matches, No. 15 Gators women’s tennis and No. 10 Florida men’s tennis wound up with different outcomes when taking on the No. 5/6 Georgia Bulldogs’ women’s and men’s squads over the weekend. Florida’s women improved to 8-1 by taking down Georgia 4-3 on the road. The Gators won two of three matches to earn the doubles point with victories from the No. 13 pairing of junior Allie Will and sophomore Sofie Oyen and the No. 31 duo of junior Lauren Embree and senior Joanna Mather. No. 1 Will fell in singles action to No. 11 Chelsey Gillickson, but No. 18 Mather, No. 23 Embree and No. 39 Oyen were all victorious to earn the overall win.
Florida’s men rallied back from a 3-0 deficit to tie things up with Georgia 3-3 but simply could not complete the comeback victory. The Bulldogs won the doubles point by taking down two of the three ranked duos for the Gators. The No. 8 pairing of junior Billy Federhofer and senior Nassim Slilam won their match, but the No. 18 duo of junior Tripper Carleton and sophomore Spencer Newman and the No. 43 team of sophomore Andrew Butz and junior Bob van Overbeek both fell 8-4. Singles wins by Carleton, Slilam and sophomore Michael Alford tied the match, but No. 51 van Overbeek fell to No. 3 Wil Spencer 6-7(4), 6-0, 7-5 in a final that lasted 2:28.
1 » Wide receiver recruit Latroy Pittman (Citra, FL) became the Florida Gators first commitment for the 2012 recruiting cycle on Aug. 17. When head coach Urban Meyer stepped down in December, Pittman paused for a second even though it has been “my dream to play there since I was three,” as he said himself last year. With new head coach Will Muschamp and WR coach Aubrey Hill now in the fold, Pittman told The Gainesville Sun that he remains as committed as ever after visiting campus over the weekend. “I feel so at home when I’m up there,” he said, according to the paper. “It’s like a feeling you get when you just know something feels right, that no other place can give you that factor.”
2 » With three-star offensive lineman Chase Hounshell (Kirkland, OH) switching his commitment to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish Monday evening, Florida is left with only two commits at that position for 2011. One of those two players, three-star Tommy Jordan (Ridgefield, CT), was supposed to be an early enrollee set to begin classes at the University of Florida last week. Instead Jordan decided not to join UF in the spring and said he would be back in the summer. Shutting off communications, Jordan was rumored to be wavering in his commitment by assumption due to his decision to go silent. In a conversation with Ridgefield Patch, Jordan explains he remains committed to the Gators and simply wanted a break from the stress of school and recruiting. “I am going to take the semester off and go back in the late spring,” Jordan said at one of his high school’s basketball games. “I have been working my butt off to graduate early and now all this stuff is happening. It just seemed like I needed a break.” He also spoke about Muschamp and new offensive line coach Frank Verducci. “I am really excited about that staff they are putting together there,” he said. “I just thought it was better to come back here while all this was going on and they figure out how it is all going to work. But I still plan on going there and am really excited about the future.”
3 » The fourth former Florida player to earn this honor, goalkeeper Katie Fraine will play in Women’s Professional Soccer in 2011 after being selected in the league’s draft held last Friday. Only one of two goalkeepers selected in the draft, Fraine joins former Gators Heather Mitts, Abby Wambach and Stacy Bishop in the league. She will be teammates with Wambach on the Washington Freedom. Fraine left the Gators as the school’s career leader in solo shutouts (27) who played a big role in helping Florida win the 2010 Southeastern Conference Championship.
4 » No. 1 Gators gymnastics (2-0, 1-0 SEC) is off to a fast start this season with back-to-back victories over the then-No. 10 Nebraska Cornhuskers (0-1) and No. 16 Kentucky Wildcats (2-1, 0-1 SEC). Florida took down Nebraska 196.925-194.950 in front of over 5,000 fans at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center on Jan. 8 and followed up that performance with a 196.775-192.90 win against Kentucky on Jan. 14. The Gators took home five events against the Cornhuskers with sophomore Ashanée Dickerson winning four of them. Dickerson won two more against the Wildcats; freshman Alaina Johnson and sophomore Marissa King each captured two of their own.
1 » Florida Gators senior quarterback Tim Tebow has not yet decided if he will participate in the Senior Bowl on Jan. 30 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, AL. After the 2010 Sugar Bowl, Tebow plans to sit down with head coach Urban Meyer and several of his trusted NFL people before making a decision. “I don’t know [if I will play]. I haven’t talked to anybody about it,” Tebow said. “If the people I talk to that are wise think that I should play in it, I’ll go play in it. If they don’t, I won’t. I don’t know. I’ll do whatever I need to do [to impress] – throw out here a million times, I don’t care.” Tebow can decide to play in the Senior Bowl up until just days before the game.
2 » Nebraska Cornhuskers defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh has been voted The Associated Press College Football Player of the Year. The first defensive player to be awarded the honor, Suh received 26 of 59 votes. Stanford Cardinal running back Toby Gerhart came in second (20 votes) while Tebow, who received the award in 2007, placed fifth with a single vote.
Extra Bit » University of Florida graduate student John O’Hearn created this four-by-six-foot mural of Tebow with 46,000 BBs. It is currently on display at Ripley’s Believe It or Not in Orlando, FL. Head on over and check it out!
1 » The 2009 Heisman Trophy will be awarded Saturday at 8 p.m. live on ESPN from the Nokia Theater in Times Square. Finalists for the trophy include Stanford Cardinal running back Toby Gerhart, Alabama Crimson Tide RB Mark Ingram, Texas Longhorns quarterback Colt McCoy, Nebraska Cornhuskers defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and Florida Gators senior quarterback Tim Tebow. Tebow, the winner in 2007 and third-place finisher in 2008, is expected to finish fifth in the voting. OGGOA will not be covering the Heisman ceremony live on Saturday, though we will post a message about the winner on twitter soon after the ceremony.
2 » Tebow sat down with a number of reporters and beat writers on Friday in New York, allowing them to informally ask questions regarding a number of topics including his Heimsan ballot. Joseph Goodman of the Miami Herald broke down Tebow’s thoughts on who should be the 2009 winner and came to the conclusion that he voted for Suh. (This would be the correct vote, in OGGOA‘s opinion.)
3 » Losing former offensive coordinator Dan Mullen to the Mississippi State Bulldogs and then former defensive coordinator Charlie Strong to the Louisville Cardinals in back-to-back seasons, Gators head coach Urban Meyer‘s greatest test my be perfecting his coaching turnover, writes Gene Frenette of The Florida Times-Union. Couple that with the loss of a large group of seniors and several big-name juniors, and Florida’s transition to 2010 will have to be seamless in order to keep them at the top.
4 » Speaking of Strong, the new Cardinals coach spent his first two nights in Louisville sleeping at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium as he got acquainted with the program and university. “It’s kind of a whirlwind,” Strong said. “There are a lot of things to be done. The best thing is just catch your breath and take your time and make sure I do the right things.” He even gained a commitment from quarterback recruit DeMarcus Smith, “arguably the state’s best junior” according to The Courier-Journal. Strong will leave the program at the end of the week and return to Gainesville, FL, to coach the Gators’ defense for the 2010 Sugar Bowl against the Cincinnati Bearcats.
Two Florida Gators juniors came home from The Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards in Orlando, FL, Thursday evening with awards; unfortunately, four other players were not as lucky. Center Maurkice Pouncey was awarded the 2009 Rimington Trophy (best collegiate center) and tight end Aaron Hernandez was honored with the 2009 John Mackey Award (best collegiate tight end). Each was the first Gators player in history to take home his respective award.
Senior quarterback Tim Tebow, who was up for the 2009 Davey O’Brien Award (best collegiate quarterback) and 2009 Maxwell Award (best all-around player), was defeated for both by Texas Longhorns QB Colt McCoy. Tebow took home the O’Brien Award in 2007 and is a two-time winner of the Maxwell Award (2007, 2008). Senior middle linebacker Brandon Spikes lost the 2009 Chuck Bednarik Award (best defensive player) to Nebraska Cornhuskers defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh; junior cornerback Joe Haden was defeated by Tennessee Volunteers safety Eric Berry for the 2009 Jim Thorpe Award (best defensive back); and Georgia Bulldogs punter Drew Butler won the 2009 Ray Guy Award (best collegiate punter) over junior Chas Henry. 2009 Heisman Trophy ceremony is on Saturday at 8 p.m. on ESPN.
Florida Gators senior quarterback Tim Tebow was named as one of five finalists for the 2009 Heisman Trophy on Monday. Only the second player in history to be a finalist for the award three times (Herschel Walker, 1980-82), Tebow will compete against running backs Mark Ingram (Alabama Crimson Tide) and Toby Gerhart (Stanford Cardinal), defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (Nebraska Cornhuskers) and QB Colt McCoy (Texas Longhorns). Tebow won the Heisman Trophy in 2007 and finished third in 2008 but is not projected to be in the top three this season.
“Having the chance to go back to New York means a lot to me,” Tebow said. “It is a special honor but it wouldn’t be possible for me to have this opportunity without my teammates and coaches.”
The 2009 winner will be announced at the Nokia Theatre in New York, NY, on Saturday, Dec. 12. Prior to the Heisman ceremony, Tebow will be up for the Maxwell Award (best college football player) and Davey O’Brien Award (best college quarterback), both of which will be presented on Thursday night. Tebow has won back-to-back Maxwell Awards (one of only two players to do so) and took home the Davey O’Brien Award in 2007. He has already won the Academic All-America of the Year for the second consecutive season, the first student-athlete ever to do so.