Sun Devils sweep Gators in Women’s College World Series to capture national title

Just two years ago, Florida Gators softball entered the Women’s College World Series and fought their way to the finals before losing in back-to-back games to Washington, the top-ranked team in the country.

Two years later, No. 4 Florida powered themselves back to the WCWS Championship Series but suffered a similar fate, dropping consecutive contests to the No. 1 Arizona State Sun Devils and handing another NCAA Championship to a Pac-10 opponent.

The Gators (56-13) fell 7-2 to the Sun Devils (60-6) on Tuesday in the second and final game of the series, ending a spectacular season and great 2011 NCAA Tournament run with a thud at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, OK.

Playing the final game of her softball career, senior right-handed pitcher Stephanie Brombacher (who has decided to retire from the sport after graduation) started the contest for Florida and got out of a tough spot in the first.

Arizona State stranded on a runner on third, but UF made sure not to follow suit in the bottom of the inning. Junior center fielder Michelle Moultrie led off by smacking a stand-up double up the middle, advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt, and crossed the plate two batters later when sophomore right fielder Brittany Schutte flied out to deep left. Moultrie’s hit tied the WCWS record for most by a single player in the event (13).

The Sun Devils made up for their missed opportunity, beginning the second with three hits and tying the game on a bases loaded walk. With one out, shortstop Katelyn Boyd singled through the right side, scoring two and giving ASU a 3-1 lead before Brombacher retired the final two batters. Arizona State increased their advantage to 5-1 in the third when designated player Alix Johnson dropped a two-RBI blooper into shallow right.

Brombacher (20-3) was pulled for freshman RHP Hannah Rogers to begin the fourth, and the young hurler got out of the top of the inning unscathed. The Gators hit three balls hard in the bottom of the inning but all resulted in long fly outs near the warning track.

ASU added another run in the fifth, scoring on a two-out RBI single, but a play at the plate ended the frame and left the Sun Devils with a 6-1 lead. Arizona State tacked on one more in the sixth courtesy of a solo homer by RF Annie Lockwood.

UF still went down fighting with senior catcher Tiffany DeFelice hitting a RBI single with two outs in the seventh to score sophomore DP Ensley Gammel, who got on base with a single of her own to lead off the inning.

Sun Devils freshman starter Dallas Escobedo (37-3) led her team throughout the event and once again in the championship series but received plenty of help on Tuesday from Boyd and Johnson, each of whom contributed three-RBI outings at the plate.

Though they posted a record-setting performance in the tournament, Florida failed in their bid to become the first Southeastern Conference team to capture a WCWS title. It was the third time in the last five years that teams from the SEC and Pac-10 went head-to-head for the championship.

2011 NCAA Tournament Honors
Co-Most Valuable Player: Michelle Moultrie
All-Tournament Team: Moultrie, Kelsey Bruder, Brittany Schutte, Cheyenne Coyle

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Women’s College World Series Championship Series: No. 4 Florida vs. No. 1 Arizona State

Event: 2011 Women’s College World Series – Championship Series
Location: ASA Hall of Fame Stadium – Oklahoma City, OK [Capacity: 7,300]
Time: 8:00 p.m. (ET)

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

(4) FLORIDA GATORS (1) ARIZONA STATE SUN DEVILS
Head Coach: Tim Walton Head Coach: Clint Myers
Record: 56-11 Record: 58-6
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Pacific 10
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Florida is making its second appearance in the WCWS in the last three years. The Gators fell in back-to-back games to Washington in 2009 and is looking for revenge against another Pac-10 opponent this time around.
» No SEC team has ever won the WCWS. It is the third time in the last five years that an SEC team will face a Pac-10 team in the WCWS championship series.
» Arizona State is the only team to defeat UF thus far in the WCWS, winning a 6-5 thriller last week with a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth.
» Florida has scored as many runs (41) in the first four days of WCWS play as the rest of the teams in the field (seven) combined.
» The Sun Devils and the Gators boast different strengths. Arizona State leads Florida in batting average (.338-.327), fielding percentage (.984-.974), ERA (1.83-1.90) and strikeouts (400-358). However, the Gators hold advantages in home runs (118-83), RBI (464-431), slugging percentage (.591-.536) and stolen bases (102-53). UF is also out-hitting ASU in the WCWS by more than 40 points (.357-.312).
» Florida on Sunday set WCWS records for runs scored in a single inning (11), home runs in a game (four) and RBI in a game (15).

LAST TIME OUT…

UF and ASU met on Friday and slugged it out in second-round action. Arizona State came away with a hard-fought 6-5 victory on a walk-off single in the bottom of the seventh. Florida started the game down 4-0 but scored five runs in the fourth to jump ahead by one before losing it all to right fielder Annie Lockwood, who ended it with a bases loaded single. She finished the game 3-3 with a homer, three RBI and two walks.

KNOW THE OPPONENT

The Sun Devils are the top-ranked team in the country and enter on the back of freshman pitcher Dallas Escobedo, a strikeout machine who is getting it done in the WCWS with three wins and a 2.00 ERA in 21.0 innings. Arizona State’s offense has struck out just 13 times in three games and has plenty of power with Lockwood, Katelyn Boyd, Mandy Urfer and Krista Donnenwirth.

KEEP AN EYE ON…

» Senior left fielder Kelsey Bruder…who has already set a WCWS event record for most runs scored (nine) and has been a catalyst for Florida’s offense all season long. She is hitting .625 (5-8) at the WCWS with a homer, four RBI, nine runs and eight walks.
» Sophomore right fielder Brittany Schutte…who set the Gators’ single-season home run record with her 21st and 22nd bombs on Sunday. She has hit five moon shots in eight career WCWS games.
» Junior centerfielder Michelle Moultrie…UF’s speedster leadoff hitter who has hit more home runs (three) in the WCWS than she did the rest of the season (two). Moultrie is hitting .611 at the WCWS and is 11-18 with five RBI and seven runs. She is one homer away from tying the WCWS record.
» Right-handed pitchers senior Stephanie Brombacher and freshman Hannah Rogers…who are sharing duties on the mound for Florida. Brombacher had her best outing in recent memory early on Sunday, and Rogers pitched six shutout innings that evening before being tagged for a pair of runs.
» Escobedo…Arizona State’s dominant pitcher who may start every game in the series unless the Gators prove that they are able to light her up.
» Lockwood…whose stellar performance on Friday eventually won the Sun Devils the game against Florida, sending the Gators to three-straight elimination games.
» Urfer…who leads all batters on both teams in average, hitting .667 (4-6) with two homers, five RBI and four walks through three WCWS contests.

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2010 NCAA College World Series Gameday (06/19): No. 3 Florida Gators vs. No. 6 UCLA Bruins

Location: Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium – Omaha, NE [Capacity: 23,170]
Game Time: 7 p.m. (EST)

TV: ESPN / ESPNHD
Online: ESPN3.com
OGGOA Live Updates: via Twitter

No. 3 Florida Gators No. 6 UCLA Bruins
Head Coach: Kevin O’Sullivan Head Coach: John Savage
Starter: LHP Alex Panteliodis (11-2, 3.39) Starter: RHP Trevor Bauer (10-3, 3.02)
Record: 47-15 Record: 48-14
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Pac-10
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

HISTORY / RECORDS:
» Florida leads the all-time series against UCLA 3-1, including a 2-0 record in the NCAA Tournament. The teams have never meet in the College World Series.
» The Gators will be making their sixth appearance in the CWS (first since 2005), while the Bruins will be there for the third time (first since 1997).
» Ironically enough, UF and UCLA are the only two teams to also reach the 2010 NCAA Women’s College World Series – the women faced-off in first round action on June 3.
» Against common opponents this season, the Gators are 11-2, while the Bruins are 6-1.
» Florida’s 47 wins this season is the program’s highest victory total since the 2005 team, which finished as a runner-up in the CWS and a record of 48-23.
» The Gators are 14-12 on the road and 2-4 at neutral sites in 2010.
» Florida has outscored opponents 431-271 this year, is 36-4 when scoring first and 11-11 when their competition does so. They are also 34-3 when registering more hits than their opponent and 10-12 otherwise.
» The Gators are undefeated when leading after six innings (41-0), seven innings (44-0) and eight innings (43-0), but only 1-15 when trailing after six, 2-14 when losing at the end of the seventh and 3-14 when down through eight.
» Sophomore starter Alex Panteliodis, with 26 career strikeouts in NCAA competition, is seven away from tying the school record for most in the NCAA Tournament for a career (John Burke, 33, 1991-92). He is also two wins away from tying the school record the most career wins in the tournament (Tommy Boss, 4, 2002-05).
» Senior outfielder Matt den Dekker is two stolen bases away from tying the school record of in the NCAA Tournament (David Eckstein, 6, 1994-97).
» Junior second baseman Josh Adams and senior OF Jonathan Pigott are each three doubles away from tying the school record of career doubles in the NCAA Tournament (Jeff Corsaletti & Justin Tordi, 6, 2002-05 & 2003-05).
» Sophomores first baseman Preston Tucker and OF Tyler Thompson are each three home runs away from tying the school record of career homers in the NCAA Tournament (Mario Linares, 7, 1988-91).

KEEP AN EYE ON…
» Gators starting pitchers Panteliodis (10-2, 3.39), freshman Hudson Randall (8-3, 2.97) and freshman Brian Johnson (6-4, 3.97)…who have led the team from the hill this season with sterling performances and a combined 3.69 ERA.
» Freshman sensation Austin Maddox…a third baseman who can play three other positions, has garnered numerous awards while leading the Gators in RBI (71), multiple-RBI games (21), home runs (17) and sacrifice flies (five).
» den Dekker…a speed demon leading UF with a 23-for-30 conversion rate on stolen bases, he is tied for fifth on the program’s career list with 66 stolen bags and leads the 2010 team in batting average (.358), runs (64) and hits (86).
» Junior closer Kevin Chapman (3-0)…has a team-low 1.48 ERA (42.2 innings) in 30 appearances. He is tied for second in the SEC with 11 saves. As a team, Florida’s 18 saves are have tied the team’s single-season record (1991).
» The Gators bullpen…which is 17-2 with 18 saves and a 4.18 ERA in 243.1 innings, while its starters are a combined 30-13 with a 3.78 ERA in 304.2 innings.

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REPORT: Texas A&M prefers SEC over Pac-10

When conference realignment became a hot topic a few weeks ago, a contingent of six Big 12 schools – Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Colorado – were expected to leave the conference and join up with the Pac-10, with Nebraska also deciding to part ways and become the 12th member of the Big Ten.

A report Sunday from Chip Brown of Orangebloods.com states that, while Colorado and Nebraska have already left, a retooled 10-team Big 12 may be able to stay together if conference commissioner Dan Beebe can secure a substantial television contract. Texas is reportedly considering all options and would be amenable to earning as much as $17 million per season under the new deal.

In the same article, Brown notes that Texas A&M “has been in deep discussions with the SEC and as of Saturday night had enough votes on its Board of Regents to join the SEC” rather than potentially following Texas and company to the Pac-10. The SEC, which covets Texas and Oklahoma for expansion, would settle on adding Texas A&M due to the expanded reach it would receive in the Dallas and Houston television markets.

[UPDATE: Texas A&M turned down an official offer to join the Pac-10 on Sunday.]

However, if Texas decides to remain in the Big 12 – Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are tied-in as well – chances are Texas A&M would also stay put.

Should Texas A&M choose to join the SEC, it’s 100-year rivalry with Texas would be in jeopardy, but it would pick up its old natural rivalry with Arkansas, which flourished at one time in the now defunct Southwest Conference.

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UF accused of illegal contact with USC RB Baxter

ESPN‘s Joe Schad reports that the Florida Gators are one of five programs being accused of illegally contacting USC Trojans running back Dillon Baxter about a transfer.

Florida – along with Alabama, Oregon, Washington and Fresno State – allegedly reached out to Baxter (a true freshman) on June 10, according to USC. This potentially occurred one day before the NCAA announced that schools could recruit the Trojans’ juniors and seniors. Players wishing to leave will not have to sit out a year.

Baxter does not fall under these guidelines and told USC director of compliance Matt Billings about the illegal contact immediately; the Trojans have officially requested that the Pac-10 reach out to and speak with the accused parties.

“I just met with (Baxter) and he told me that he received phone calls from five institutions (June 10th),” Billings wrote to Pac-10 associate commissioner for governance and enforcement Ron Barker, according to ESPN. “All of the institutions asked if he was interested in transferring [from] USC due to the NCAA decision. Would you please speak with these schools to remind them they cannot speak to this student athlete?”

Gators associate athletics director for communications Steve McClain, Crimson Tide associate athletics director for football communications Jeff Purinton and Ducks head coach Chip Kelly have all denied the respective accusations.

The allegations, if determined to be true, would amount to secondary violations.

OGGOA will have more on this breaking story as it is made available.

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USC Trojans lose scholarships, face two-year postseason ban from NCAA

Reports from ESPN and the Los Angeles Times Thursday morning stating that the USC Trojans football program would face a two-year postseason ban, a reduction in scholarships and a forfeiture of wins when the NCAA released its sanctions for the university later in the day were confirmed by the organization at 3:00 p.m.

Specifically, USC will lose 30 scholarships over a three-year period (can only accept a maximum of 15 per season), may only have 75 players under scholarship at any given time in that same span, and will vacate the 2004 BCS National Championship and every victory from the 2005 season.

Though the NCAA could not force Southern California to relinquish its 2004 Orange Bowl win against the Oklahoma Sooners, the BCS came out Thursday evening and did just that. It is currently meeting to finalize a decision to have the 2004 title vacated; a new National Champion will not be named. Additionally, the Associated Press will not strip the program of its 2004 title.

Under investigation due to numerous violations in both the football and men’s basketball programs (specifically involving stars Reggie Bush and O.J. Mayo), the Trojans had been awaiting a ruling from the NCAA Committee on Infractions for months. The postseason ban will specifically relate to the football team, but the NCAA has handed down penalties to the basketball program as well. The NCAA’s penalties are listed below:

Football:
- Two-year postseason ban; four-year probation (June 10, 2010 to June 9, 2014)
- Loss of 30 scholarships over three years (maximum 15 allowed per season)
- Reduction of outstanding scholarships to 75 per year over three years
- Vacated 2004 BCS National Championship*
- Vacated 2005 season – new record: 0-1
- $5,000 fine
- Bush’s individual and team records erased; he may not assist the university financially or with recruiting; complete disassociation
- Boosters and the like disallowed from traveling with the team, attending practice, participating in camps or having access to the sidelines or locker rooms

Basketball
Self-imposed
- One-year postseason ban from Pac-10 and NCAA Tournament (already served)
- One less scholarship for 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons
- Three recruits released from respective National Letters of Intent
- One less coach allowed to recruit for 2011 class
- 20 less days to recruit for 2011 class (from 130 to 110)
- Vacated 2007-08 season – new record 0-12
- $206,020 returned to NCAA as payment for 2008 NCAA Tournament appearance
NCAA-mandated
- Four-year probation (June 10, 2010 to June 9, 2014)
- Mayo’s individual and team records erased; he may not assist the university financially or with recruiting; complete disassociation
- Boosters and the like disallowed from traveling with the team, attending practice, participating in camps or having access to the sidelines or locker rooms

Women’s tennis:
- Former student-athlete used the athletic department’s long distance to make 123 calls (cost: $7,000) to her family during her admission
Self-imposed
- Vacated all wins from Nov. 2006 to May 2009 in which the player participated

As far as Bush’s Heisman Trophy goes, the NCAA could not strip him of the award, though the organization might. “The Heisman Trophy Trust will have a comment at the appropriate time,” the group said Thursday. “Until that time, it will have no comment.”

The NCAA’s report claims USC showed “a lack of institutional control, impermissible inducements, extra benefits, exceeding coach staff limits, and unethical conduct by an assistant football coach.”

The Trojans have released statement through the university’s Sports Information Department stating that the university will appeal some of the penalties imposed by the NCAA. Due to this appeal, punishments will not go into affect until a decision is rendered – possibly delaying the inevitable and extending the school’s sentence. From Todd Dickey, senior vice president for administration:

We acknowledge that violations occurred and we take full responsibility for them. However, we sharply disagree with many of the findings in the NCAA Committee on Infractions Report. Further, we feel the penalties imposed are too severe for the violations identified in the report.

We will accept those sanctions we believe to be consistent with penalties imposed upon other NCAA member institutions found guilty of similar rules infractions. We are hopeful that the NCAA Infractions Appeals Committee will agree with our position on appeal, and reduce the penalties.

Read the NCAA’s report on USC’s violations here

OGGOA will continue updating this story throughout the day.

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SIX BITS: Oh-Fours, Donovan, Spikes, SEC, Marotti

1 » Asked his thoughts about the one-and-done mentality perpetuated by the Kentucky Wildcats, Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan decided to reminisce about the 2007 season, when his National Championship-winning team decided to take the unselfish route and return to school to repeat. “I don’t know all the situations in terms of [Kentucky players] with their families,” Donovan said per the Knoxville News Sentinel at the 2010 Southeastern Conference Spring Meetings. “My situation was very, very unique. There was an incredible chemistry and bond. And coming off a championship, they also wanted to try and do it again. Three of the [starters’ fathers] were professional athletes. I think the one thing their parents talked to them about was that they would never, ever play on a team like that, and that the NBA would always be there.”

2 » Donovan also spoke about his passion for the Florida program and how he does not envision leaving anytime soon, citing how nice the Gainesville, FL, community has been to raise a family and build a life. “I’m in a unique situation,” Donovan said. “Florida’s been great to me. I still have a passion for it.”

Four more BITS on Brandon Spikes, potential conference realignments and strength coach Mickey Marotti…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Oh-Fours, Donovan, Spikes, SEC, Marotti

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