1 » No. 1 Florida Gators softball (50-6) earned the top national seed in the 2015 NCAA Tournament and as such will host the Gainesville Regional at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium in Gainesville, Florida, for the 13th consecutive season. Florida will see the Florida A&M Rattlers (18-37), Florida Atlantic Owls (37-17-1) and Hofstra Pride (37-12-1) come to town for the double-elimination tournament, which begins on Friday. The winner of the Gainesville Regional will face the victor from the South Bend Rgional, which features No. 16 Notre Dame, Kentucky, Northwestern and Ball State. The Gators are the defending 2014 NCAA Champions, capturing the first national title in program history.
Despite dropping a series and regular-season finale in extra innings on Sunday, No. 1 Florida Gators softball ended the day by being crowned the winners of the 2015 SEC Championship.
Florida entered Sunday on a 17-game winning streak dating back to April 3 and had earned close 7-6 and 9-6 wins over the Missouri Tigers in the first two games of their weekend series. Though the Gators rallied back from a two-run deficit to force extra innings, the Tigers clinched a 3-2 victory with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the eighth.
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Updated following the Gators’ victories on Friday.
Florida softball, one year after winning the program’s first national title, has set a new record for hottest start in school history with 26 consecutive wins to open the 2015 campaign.
Though the Gators have outscored opponents 208-27 this season – with 12 shutouts – Florida has not achieved this mark without being put through the wringer. UF is 4-0 against teams ranked in the top three nationally with two wins over Michigan and another against Oregon, none of which occurred at home.
The Gators have four more non-conference games to play as well as an extremely tough SEC schedule, and though a loss is likely to come sooner than later, UF’s dominance to this point should not be overlooked.
Winning a league title, earning an important series victory, maintaining a long winning streak and remaining undefeated, Florida Gators athletic programs accomplished plenty over the last weekend. Let’s take a look at all of it in the Weekend Wrap.
Thrice is nice
Florida men’s swimming captured a third-straight Southeastern Conference Championship over the weekend, using three individual event titles won in Auburn, Alabama, to catapult the program to its 36th SEC Championship.
UF (1,314.5) edged Georgia (1,134.5) and Auburn (1,084.0) for the crown with freshman Caeleb Dressel (100-yard butterfly); sophomore Mitch D’Arrigo (500-yard freestyle); and the foursome of senior Dan Wallace, junior Pawel Werner, redshirt sophomore Nicholas Alexiou and D’Arrigo (800-yard freestyle relay) bringing home individual SEC titles. The relay team set a league and school record with a time of 6:12.85.
The Gators’ women finished third but also picked up four individual titles via junior Natalie Hinds (100-yard freestyle), freshman Amelia Maughan (200-yard freestyle), redshirt freshman Theresa Michalak (200-yard individual medley) and junior Jessica Thielmann (1,650-yard freestyle). Hinds set a program mark with a time of 47.26 seconds.
In total, Florida over the weekend added automatic qualifications for 25 events in the forthcoming 2015 NCAA Championships.
By Mike Brandes – OnlyGators.com Contributor
No. 1 Florida Gators softball is poised to defend its crown following a 2014 campaign that saw the team go 55-12 with that last victory resulting in the program’s first National Championship. The Gators have already come out of the gate strong, sweeping the USF Softball Classic and routing Jacksonville on Wednesday, amassing a 6-0 record while outscoring opponents 62-7
Florida was the preseason favorite to with the Southeastern Conference title, having received 11 of 13 first-place votes from the league’s coaches, after failing to win either the regular season or tournament championship a year ago.
Head coach Tim Walton, who is now 498-114 (.813) six games into his 10th season, is confident in his roster. “We’ve got a good group, as deep a group as we’ve had,” he said. Walton no doubt hopes to roll this confidence into a return trip to Oklahoma City and ultimately a second national title in as many seasons.
For as bad as things went for the Florida Gators at times in 2014 (see the Not Top 14 for 2014), there were more than a fair share of bright spots. From breathtaking moments and game-winning plays to winning championships and setting records, the Gators had plenty to be proud of in 2014. Check out OnlyGators.com‘s Top 14 for 2014.
14 » RARE WOMEN’S BASKETBALL UPSET
Gators women’s basketball has struggled to find relevancy but there was no question Florida had its engines running on Jan. 5 when it pulled off one of the biggest victories in program history, an 83-73 upset win over No. 6 Kentucky. The win broke a six-game losing streak for UF against UK and was head coach Amanda Butler’s first win over a top-10 ranked opponent after going 0-17 previously in such games. Florida had lost 19-straight regular-season games against top 10-ranked opponents, earning its last victory to such a team in Feb. 2006.
13 » TEBOW TIME ALL THE TIME
Former Gators quarterback Tim Tebow had a life-changing 2014 after agreeing to sign a long-term broadcasting deal with ESPN. Tebow was featured on the network’s national title broadcast that season and was later assigned to the SEC Network where he served as one of three analysts for the channel’s Saturday pre-game show, SEC Nation. Tebow has drawn rave reviews throughout 2014 for his passionate opinions and consistent on-air knowledge. He also proved to be unbiased, lambasting the leadership on Florida’s offense when the team struggled during the middle of the season. One Tebow moment – a spot-on impersonation of former Gators head coach Steve Spurrier – was OnlyGators.com’s most-watched Vine with 1.3 million loops as of press time.
Tebow also closed 2014 with a brilliant on-air prediction, which you can check out below.
Updated/completed at 1:35 p.m.
Head coach Will Muschamp of the Florida Gators (3-1, 2-1 SEC) met with the media twice on Wednesday as his team continues its preparations for the LSU Tigers (4-2, 0-2 SEC). Florida is looking to defeat LSU for just the second time since 2010 as the Gators host the Tigers on Saturday night at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida. The game will kick off at 7:30 p.m. and air live nationally on the SEC Network.
Muschamp’s regularly-scheduled media appearance on Monday was postponed as freshman quarterback Treon Harris is currently under investigation for alleged sexual battery. He addressed that and a variety of other topics on Wednesday.
TREON HARRIS SITUATION
With his second-string quarterback, freshman Treon Harris, suspended indefinitely while under investigation for sexual battery, Muschamp declined to comment further on the situation. In fact, he indicated that he preferred to not even have a press conference this week but understood that he needed to in order to help the media do their jobs.
“The statement that the university released Monday, I think, was pretty self-explanatory. It is a very serious charge, and there has been no change in his status,” he said.
“You handle things in life and you move forward and that’s what we’re going to do [as a team]. I feel very comfortable with how we’ve approached this situation.”
Muschamp declined comment on any questions related to Harris.
1 » FOX Sports sideline reporter Erin Andrews was dealt a tough task on Tuesday when she interviewed St. Louis Cardinals hurler Adam Wainwright in the dugout just hours after he admitted/joked about throwing a gimmie pitch to New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter. Wainwright attempted to assure the public that he was simply being lighthearted with his comment while clarifying that he did not groove a pitch to Jeter, and Andrews did not press him on the subject considering Jeter was the one being honored on Tuesday night. Dennis and Callahan Morning Show cohost Kirk Minihane took Andrews to task for joking with Wainwright that his comments blew up due to social media, unleashing an offensive verbal tirade at her on the air.
”What a bitch! I hate her! What a gutless bitch! Seriously, go away. Drop dead. I mean, seriously, what the hell is wrong with her? First of all, follow-up. Secondly, the guy admitted he did it. He admitted he told reporters he threw a couple of pipe bombs. How is that social media’s fault? Seriously, I hate her. I seriously hat her so much! … Shut up. Shut up. I shouldn’t call her a ‘bitch.’ I’m sure she’s a nice person, but she’s…she’s probably a bitch. I freaking hate her. … And this bimbo says, ‘Don’t you love social media?’ I’m going to get in trouble for this.”
Apparently not. As of press time, Minihane has not been disciplined for his completely misogynistic and hateful comments, though he did issue an apology.
“This morning on the radio I used a series of words to describe Erin Andrews’ work at the All-Star Game. My choice of words was wrong; I was wrong to have used them. To all whom I offended — particularly Ms. Andrews — I apologize. There is no place for what was said. It was immature and completely uncalled for. I am often critical of media members and their work and recognize here that I’ve made the kind of mistake I would call out if it was done by another sportscaster or writer. Again, to all involved, I’m very sorry.”
FOX Sports released the following statement on Wednesday: “Comments such as these are beyond inappropriate and inexcusable. It is unfortunate that one of the best sports talk radio stations in the country would allow and condone such low-class behavior from one of their on-air personalities.”