Weekend Wrap: Gators swimming wins SEC title, Florida baseball bests Miami, softball undefeated

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.

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2015 Florida softball primer: Can the Gators repeat after the program’s first championship?

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.

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Top 14 for 2014: Florida Gators best moments of the year

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.

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10/8: Will Muschamp addresses recent incidents, Florida’s preparations for LSU

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.

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4 BITS: Andrews, ESPYS, Milton-Jones, softball

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.”

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4 BITS: SEC Media Day, Driskel, softball, Tebow

1 » The Southeastern Conference announced Wednesday that Florida Gators redshirt junior quarterback Jeff Driskel, defensive end Dante Fowler, Jr. and cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III will join head coach Will Muschamp as the school’s contingent at the 2014 SEC Media Days next week in Hoover, Alabama. Florida is one of just two SEC teams not bringing a senior on the trip, a departure from the past when the Gators tried to ensure all three spots were taken by players in their last year of eligibility. The event is scheduled from July 14-17 with Florida set to be the third contingent to go through the process behind league commissioner Mike Slive and Auburn. South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier will entertain on Tuesday, LSU’s Les Miles will follow suit on Wednesday and Alabama’s Nick Saban will kick things off on Thursday.

2 » Speaking of Driskel, UF’s school website announced that he will be working as a counselor at the Manning Passing Academy from July 10-13. It is the second-straight year Driskel will be attending the event in Thibodaux, Louisiana, and he will represent the Gators as one of 40 college signal callers working as counselors. He also participated once as a camper during high school. “The few chances I did get to speak with [the Mannings at previous camps], it was really good experiences,” Driskel said. “They are down-to-earth people and I’m just fortunate enough they invited me back for another year. I’m really looking forward to going.” Florida offensive coordinator Kurt Roper has a long history with former Ole Miss QB Eli Manning after working as his position coach, so Driskel will likely have another topic to discuss with the Mannings over the weekend.

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Hannah Rogers named SEC Athlete of the Year

Florida Gators senior right-handed pitcher Hannah Rogers capped her stellar collegiate career with the top honor awarded by the Southeastern Conference after being named the league’s 2014 Female Athlete of the Year on Tuesday.

Rogers becomes the seventh Florida student-athlete to earn the honor, which has been given to Gators 10 total times with Tim Tebow (2008-09), Danny Wuerffel (1996-97) and Nicole Haislett (1993-94) each doubling up. Ryan Lochte (2005), Dara Torres (1988) and Tracy Caulkins (1984) have also received the award.

The first Florida female in 20 years to be named SEC Athlete of the Year, Rogers is also the first non-swimmer to earn the honor (Haislett, Torres, Caulkins).

She compiled a 30-8 record and 1.60 ERA during the 2014 season, tossing 27 complete games in a team-high 223.1 innings. Rogers also posted a 2.7 K/BB ratio and only allowed opposing batters to hit .197.

Her dominance reached new heights in the postseason when he ran through the 2014 NCAA Tournament with a 7-0 record and 0.64 ERA.

She went 4-0 in the Women’s College World Series and earned a save in the final game of the Championship Series, earning Most Outstanding Player honors while leading the Gators to their first national title in the sport.


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FOUR BITS: Walker, Beisel, Dwyer, Watkins

1 » Former Florida Gators point guard Erving Walker is quickly making his way around Europe, announcing Monday that he has signed with JDA Dijon Basket of the ProA league in France. It is the third professional team Walker has played for since leaving Florida. He first signed with Veroli Basket out of Italy’s Legadue in the summer of 2012, averaging 17.9 points and 3.6 assists in 20 games with the club. He then inked a deal to play in Poland with Basket Zielona Góra but only lasted about three months with the team. During his stay, he averaged 5.7 points and 2.4 assists in 28 games spread between the EuroCup, Euroleague and Polish League. Walker finished out the 2013-14 season with Elan Chalon out of the LNB Pro A league in France where he saw 19.2 minutes per game, posting 9.0 points and 2.1 assists per contest.

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