TWO BITS: SEC baseball awards, Pearl’s praise

1 » Champions of the 2010 Southeastern Conference regular season, No. 4 Florida Gators baseball received two major awards and 14 honorable placements on Tuesday. Kevin O’Sullivan was named the 2010 SEC Coach of the Year, third baseman Austin Maddox was named the 2010 SEC Freshman of the Year and junior left-hander Kevin Chapman was named to the All-SEC First Team as the relief pitcher. Other honors awarded: All-SEC Second Team – sophomore first baseman Preston Tucker, Maddox, freshman shortstop Nolan Fontana and senior outfielder Matt den Dekker; All-Freshman Team – Maddox, Fontana, catcher Mike Zunino, pitcher Hudson Randall, DH/P Brian Johnson; All-Defensive Team – Tucker, Fontana, den Dekker.

2 » Tennessee Volunteers head coach Bruce Pearl heaped the praise on the Gators basketball program and head coach Billy Donovan on Tuesday, claiming that Florida is easily the most talented team in the SEC going into the 2010-11 season. “Billy Donovan has had several years of really, really good recruiting,” Pearl told the Knoxville News Sentinel. “They will be by far the most talented team in the SEC.” Pearl made this declaration while acknowledging the fact that Kentucky is bringing in easily the best recruiting class in the nation.

Photo Credit: University of Florida

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FOUR BITS: Baseball sweeps Georgia, tennis advances to Round of 16, softball hosts regional

1 » With two games in hand, No. 4/5 Florida Gators baseball (37-12, 20-7 SEC) swept their series against the Georgia Bulldogs with a 9-3 win Sunday afternoon at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville, FL. Freshman starting pitcher Brian Johnson (5-2) tossed 5.2 strong innings, striking out three while only giving up one earned run. Sophomore first baseman Preston Tucker (1-3) and junior designated hitter Bryson Smith (2-3) each tallied two RBI, while freshman shortstop Nolan Fontana (2-4) and junior second baseman Josh Adams (1-3) both crossed home plate twice. Florida has now won eight consecutive contests over Georgia; the three-day total attendance of 14,619 set an all-time weekend series Gators record. UF will face North Florida on Tuesday before traveling to Columbia, SC, for a season-defining three-game series against the No. 8/12 South Carolina Gamecocks (41-11, 20-7 SEC). The Gators and Gamecocks are tied atop the Southeastern Conference regular season standings.

Three more BITS on women’s and men’s tennis advancing in the 2010 NCAA Tournament and softball’s honors and hosting duties…after the jump!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Baseball sweeps Georgia, tennis advances to Round of 16, softball hosts regional

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SIX BITS: Nelson, Cunningham, softball, lax, UK

1 » On Feb. 1, OGGOA reported that former Florida Gators safety Reggie Nelson could be cut by the Jacksonville Jaguars if he does not show significant improvement by the time training camp concludes. Nelson owned up to ESPN about his issues in 2009 and has figured out why they occurred. “I had mistakes last year, I did,” he said. “I’ve watched film since I’ve been here in February and I can own up and say, ‘Yes, I did blow some coverages. Yes, I did miss tackles.’ That’s something I’ve looked at. I have to correct them. You’ve got to look at it: I played safety, corner, nickel, so many different positions. Most players would be like, ‘Oh, no, I’m not doing that, y’all drafted me for this.’ That’s not me, I want to win. I took that challenge, I played corner, I played nickel. I am a competitive guy. […] They made their decision and I’ve got to live with it.” Nelson also said he will not do the same thing in 2010 – if it is up to him. “The way things happened last year, I don’t think I’d do it,” he said. “I will not do it. I tried that last year. It didn’t work. I don’t think it was fair to me. I would not go back. You live and you lean. It’s their decision, regardless. The only thing I can do is show up and play football.”

2 » The New England Patriots want former Florida defensive end Jermaine Cunningham to replace recently released outside linebacker Adalius Thomas – this much is known. How he will progress in the transition remains to be seen, but head coach Bill Belichick is just as confident as Cunningham is in himself. “It’s all football. I’m a football player,” Cunningham said. “I’m going to study the playbooks and just do whatever it takes to get better, and keep on getting better. […] I’m a hard worker and fundamental technician. […] Left or right, just get to the ball.” For what its worth, Cunningham has also taken to giving a name to the influx of former Gators with the Patriots – “Gator Nation North,” he calls it.

Four more BITS on softball, lacrosse, baseball and Kentucky basketball posting the lowest average GPA in the SEC…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Nelson, Cunningham, softball, lax, UK

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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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TWO BITS: Baseball, lacrosse triumphant on Wed.

1 » Avoiding a scare Wednesday, No. 2/5 Florida Gators baseball (17-3) came back from an 8-0 deficit in the second inning to score 13 unanswered runs and defeat the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles (12-7) 13-8. Now on a six-game winning streak, the Gators are continuing to crush the ball from behind the plate. Senior outfielder Matt den Dekker (2-3, four RBI) tagged a three-run shot with two outs in the fourth inning, and sophomore junior second baseman Josh Adams (2-5) joined him with a two-run homer in the same inning. Freshman shortstop Nolan Fontana was 3-5 with three runs and two RBI, and Florida’s bullpen ended the game with seven shutout innings.

2 » Continuing to impress in their inaugural season, Gators lacrosse (6-3, 0-1 ALC) took down the Cornell Big Red (2-5, 1-1 IVY) 10-5 at Donald R. Dizney Stadium Wednesday night. Florida used a 5-1 second-half to expand on its 5-4 halftime lead. Freshman attacker Ashley Bruns, the women’s lacrosse Rookie of the Week, once again led the team with three goals.

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Toledo, den Dekker lift No. 5/7 Gators over Saints

No. 5/7 Florida Gators baseball (5-0) continues to roll through opponents in 2010, taking down the Siena Saints (1-4) 13-3 Thursday night at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville, FL. Redshirt sophomore pitcher Tommy Toledo (1-0, 2.16 ERA), more than a year removed from shoulder surgery, tossed a career-high seven strikeouts over five innings while giving up just three hits and two runs in the victory.

Senior outfielder Matt den Dekker (.500) had a career-high four hits in the outing, extending his hitting streak to 14 games. Adding to den Dekker’s production were freshman catcher Austin Maddox and sophomore OF Tyler Thompson, who each went 3-3 with two RBI and a run. Sophomore designated hitter Ben McMahan added a 3-5 performance with a home run, two RBI and two runs, while freshman shortstop Nolan Fontana jacked a homer of his own to left field in the fifth inning.

Florida tagged Siena pitcher Robert Tedesco for seven earned runs in 3.1 innings of work; they also dominated replacement Ryan Poplawski with six earned runs in 4.2 innings of relief. The Gators will open up a three-game series against the La Salle Explorers with a doubleheader Saturday beginning at 2 p.m. The third game of the series will be played Sunday at noon.

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Gators baseball recruiting class ranked No. 1

Already ranked the No. 1 in the nation by Collegiate Baseball in September, the Florida Gators 2010 baseball recruiting class earned the same respect from Baseball America on Tuesday. This is the second consecutive top-five class for head coach Kevin O’Sullivan, who is in his third season with the Gators.

In 2009, O’Sullivan coached Florida to a 42-22 record and a SEC East title – their first since 2005 when the Gators made the College World Series. UF finished the season with a berth in the NCAA Super Regionals and rankings of No. 12 (Baseball America), No. 13 (Collegiate Baseball & USA Today/ESPN) and No. 14 (National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association – NCBWA).

Continue Reading » Gators baseball recruiting class ranked No. 1

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