Florida softball wins six-straight to open season

By Mike Brandes – OnlyGators.com Contributor

No. 3 Florida Gators opened up the 2014 season with a clean sweep of the USF Wilson-DeMarini Tournament in Tampa, FL, winning six games over four days including a thriller over a ranked opponent.

Florida (6-0) outscored its competitors 40-13 over the weekend as junior right-handed pitcher Lauren Haeger, who was named Southeastern Conference Pitcher of the Week on Monday, shined by tossing her first-career no-hitter in the event’s penultimate matchup.

Starting off the season with a win for the eighth time in head coach Tim Walton’s nine-year tenure, the Gators topped the South Florida Bulls in their opening game. Senior RHP Hanna Rogers pitched seven innings, allowing three runs while recording six strikeouts. UF literally weathered the storm – a 25 minute rain delay – with its bats coming alive in the fourth inning.

Sophomore first baseman Taylor Schwarz led the way offensively with a bases-clearing three-RBI single in the fourth inning, which was part of a seven-run fourth for Florida. The Gators, which won 10-3, also benefited from some free passes. “We had 11 walks and five hit-by-pitches – that’s 16 free bases,” said Walton. “We had really solid plate discipline.”

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SIX BITS: A.C. Leonard, golf, tennis, b-ball, softball

1 » ESPN has taken to praising 2011 athlete recruit A.C. Leonard (Interlachen, FL), a current Florida Gators commitment. Called “a jack-of-all-trades in high school,” Leonard is projected as a tight end or defensive end in college and worked out extensively at the former position during the Jacksonville, FL, Under Armour combine over the weekend. Leonard continues to impress and remains a solid verbal commitment.

2 » No. 4 Florida men’s golf took home its seventh straight SunTrust Gator Invitational title on Sunday, shooting a team score of 279 (-1) in the final round at the Mark Bostik Golf Course. Up nine strokes going into the final round, the Gators doubled it up and won by 18. Seniors Tyson Alexander and Tim McKenney, along with redshirt junior Andres Echavarria, tied for third place with a total score of 212 (+2).

Four more BITS on tennis, women’s b-ball and softball’s rebound after the jump!
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SIX BITS: Golf, tennis, softball, track, Harrell

1 » After three days of action, the No. 4 Florida Gators men’s golf team led the 33rd annual SunTrust Gator Invitational with a total score of 562 (283-279, +2) after 36 holes at the Mark Bostick Golf Course. Senior Tyson Alexander shot a two-round 141 (71-70, +1), good for a first-place tie going into the final round. That will take place Sunday beginning at 9:10 a.m.

News on tennis, softball, track and former LB James Harrell after the jump!
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SIX BITS: Lee, Spikes, Cooper, Tebow, Jones-Drew

1 » New York Knicks forward/center David Lee, a former Florida Gators standout who is averaging a double-double of 20 points and 11.4 rebounds in his fourth professional season, has been selected as a replacement reserve for the 2010 NBA All-Star Game. Lee will take the place of Philadelphia 76ers point guard Allen Iverson (personal reasons) and will join Atlanta Hawks F/C Al Horford in Dallas, TX.

2 » Former Gators linebacker Brandon Spikes has decided to continue training in Gainesville, FL, as he prepares for the 2010 NFL Scouting Combine at the end of February. His agent, Terry Watson, spoke with The Gainesville Sun about Spikes. “He’s doing well,” Watson said. “He continues to work out hard and he’s eating well. He’s fully committed to a plan that will get him ready for the Combine.” Also in Gainesville working out with Florida strength and conditioning coordinator Mickey Marotti is wide receiver Riley Cooper. “Coach Mick is the best,” Cooper said. “I’m following the same plan Percy (Harvin) did a year ago under Coach Mick.”

Four more very informative Florida Gators BITS after the jump!
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