SIX BITS: track, baseball, softball, tennis, lax

1 » No. 1 Florida Gators men’s track & field won the 2011 NCAA Indoor Championships over the weekend to capture back-to-back national titles. If you missed or overlooked this accomplishment, check out OGGOA‘s story.

2 » Still rebounding from a tough home loss to Georgia Southern on March 8, No. 1 Florida baseball improved to 14-2 over the weekend by sweeping the Rhode Island Rams (7-6) in a three-game series. The Gators – which beat the Rams 11-5, 12-4 and 8-6 in consecutive days – were dominant from start-to-finish. Florida also matched the best start in school history with 14 wins through the first 16 games (1952, 1963, 1977, 1985, 1992) of the season.

Sophomore left-handed pitcher Brian Johnson (4-0) grabbed the victory on Friday, striking out five and giving up three earned runs on six hits in seven full innings. Sophomore right-handed pitcher Hudson Randall (2-0) took the hill Saturday and also pitched seven strong innings; he struck out four and allowed five hits. Freshman RHP Karsten Whitson (3-0) closed out the weekend for the Gators with junior RHP Anthony DeSclafani (S2) capping his performance with three strikeouts in 1.1 innings.

Florida was strong offensively all weekend, but a few Gators were models of consistency. Junior Preston Tucker (6/11, HR, 5 RBI, 3 R, 2 BB) led the way for UF with senior second baseman Josh Adams (4/15, 7 RBI, R), sophomore catcher Mike Zunino (5/11, 4 RBI, 4 R, 2 BB) and sophomore shortstop Nolan Fontana (5/10, 2 RBI, 5 R, 4 BB) also having strong offensive performances.

3 » No. 1/2 Florida softball (25-1) suffered their first loss of the season over the weekend but did so in the fourth of five games and still held on to win the USF Under Armour Showcase. UF defeated Connecticut (5-7) 9-0 and Robert Morris (6-7) 6-1 on Friday before thrashing Ball State (11-9) 21-0 early Saturday evening. In the late game against Nebraska (18-2), the Gators lost their power stroke and fell 1-0. Florida rebounded the next day, beating South Florida (14-13) 10-2 to cap the event and take the title. Gators senior RHP Stephanie Brombacher improved to 14-0 on the season with two wins over the weekend. Freshman RHP Hannah Rogers (11-1) also earned two wins (including the event clincher) but also got the first loss of her career after allowing one earned run on four hits in seven innings on Saturday night.

4 » No. 1 Florida women’s tennis (15-1, 4-0 SEC) continued its dominant stretch this season with back-to-back victories at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex in Gainesville, FL over the weekend against the Alabama Crimson Tide (7-4, 0-2 SEC) 6-1 and Auburn Tigers (2-12, 0-2 SEC) 4-0. UF combined to win 13 of 15 matches in the event, and the Gators also led in all three contests that did not finish due to the event’s winner already having been decided.

5 » Matching the women was No. 15 Florida men’s tennis (11-3, 4-0 SEC), which beat Alabama (7-5, 0-3 SEC) 6-1 and Auburn (8-5, 1-3 SEC) 4-3 on the road over the weekend. On Friday, senior Alexandre Lacroix broke the all-time school doubles record (94 wins) and became just the seventh tennis player in program history to win 100 singles matches. No. 6 Lacroix’s combined 195 career victories (after a second singles win on Sunday) rank him third in UF history.

6 » Just days after one of the biggest wins in program history, No. 14 Gators lacrosse (6-1) refused to relent and instead thrashed the Temple Owls (1-4) 19-4 on Saturday at Donald R. Dizney Stadium in Gainesville. Eight different Florida players scored against Temple, with sophomore midfielder Kitty Cullen (five goals, six points) once again leading the way. Sophomore attacker Ashley Bruns also continued her stellar play with five points from two goals and three assists.

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1/3: Donovan’s post-game notes and quotes

Florida Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan likes to talk – and we like to listen – which is why we have compiled some of the most important news, notes and quotes following UF’s back-to-back wins – 71-67 at the Xavier Musketeers and 84-59 over the Rhode Island Rams in the following post.

LITTLE THINGS MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE

Just last week Donovan pointed to Florida’s penchant for turnovers and poor free throw shooting as two of the reasons they unraveled against Jacksonville. Though he still hopes for improvement from the charity stripe, he was pleased with the effort put forth by the Gators over the last two games. Speaking about the Rhode Island victory, Donovan said UF outplayed URI in all but four minutes of the contest.

“We played a pretty complete game – outside the last four minutes of the first half, they beat us by seven the last four minutes,” he said. “The difference in the game tonight was, one, the rebounding margin and, two, the way we defended the three-point line.”

Turnovers were still a minor issue for the Gators on Monday, but improvement in the team’s collective ball handling was evident.

“We’re getting better there. The two guys that have the ball that are our playmakers are Chandler [Parsons] and Erving [Walker] a lot. Erv has five assists, four turnovers; Chandler five assists, three turnovers. So of our 13 turnovers, [seven] come from those two guys,” Donovan said. “It’s hard for me to nit pick at those guys because they both play so hard and they both do a lot of things, but we’ve got to get those two guys in particular to do a better job. We’re moving in the right direction.”

Florida scored more than 80 points for only the second time this season (105 on 11/18 vs. North Carolina A&T)

“Our guys offensively…we’re getting better, we’re improving,” he said. “I didn’t know if we could hold them to 59 points because they have so many different offensive weapons, but we did. We’re getting better on offense. Alex [Tyus] and Kenny Boynton didn’t have great shooting nights for us, but Chandler did and we were able to get the ball inside and still able to manufacture 84 points.”

Read the rest of the notes and quotes from Donovan…after the break!
Continue Reading » 1/3: Donovan’s post-game notes and quotes

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Parsons leads Florida to 84-59 rout of URI

The Florida Gators have struggled coming off major wins this season, losing to Central Florida and Jacksonville after hard-fought victories against Florida State and then-No. 6 Kansas State. Snapping Xavier’s 30-game home winning streak Saturday, Florida (11-3) kept their momentum going Monday by thrashing the Rhode Island Rams (9-5) 84-59 at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL.

Senior forward Chandler Parsons, marred in a slump most of the season, led the way for the Gators with the ninth double-double of his career. He scored 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting (3-for-4 from downtown) and added 12 rebounds (seven offensive) to go along with five assists for his best performance of the season.

Up 13-12 over URI with 11:48 left in the first half, UF took off on a 22-2 run and only allowed the Rams one basket in more than seven minutes. Rhode Island counted with a 7-0 run to cut Florida’s lead to 14 at the half.

The Gators’ lead teetered back-and-forth in the second half, but the Rams never trailed by less than 15 points after the break.

With the game coming to a close, head coach Billy Donovan inserted walk-on guard Kyle McClanahan into the contest. He missed his first two free throws but hustled back down for a layup on the next possession to give Florida a game-high 26-point lead.

Monday’s game turned out to be a dunk-fest for the Gators with Parsons, redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin, senior F Alex Tyus and freshman G/F Casey Prather all throwing it down on their opponents.

Junior point guard Erving Walker was Florida’s second-leading scorer with 14 points on 50 percent shooting from both the field and downtown. Tyus and sophomore G Kenny Boynton each finished with 10 points though Boynton continued to struggle shooting the ball going 3-for-12 from the field and 2-of-7 from beyond the arc.

Macklin finished with six points in limited minutes, and freshmen Prather and C Patric Young both scored eight points without missing a single shot between them.

Rhode Island was led by F Delroy James, who posted 23 points and six rebounds.

With their out-of-conference slate now complete, the Gators are set to begin Southeastern Conference competition on Saturday at home against Ole Miss. The game will air live at 8 p.m. on Comcast Sports South.

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