FOUR BITS: baseball bracket, softball in WCWS

1 » Awarded the No. 2 seed in the nation on Monday, Florida Gators baseball also received its opening round match-ups for the Gainesville Regional as part of the 2011 NCAA Tournament. Being hosted at McKethan Stadium, the regional will feature one-seed Florida (45-16), two-seed Miami (36-21), three-seed Jacksonville (36-22) and four-seed Manhattan (34-17). Action begins Friday, June 3 with Florida-Manhattan and Miami-Jacksonville contests taking place; both games will air live on ESPNU at 4 p.m. and noon, respectively. The Gainesville Regional will span the weekend unless an “if necessary” finale is forced for Monday evening with the winner going on to face the victor of the Atlanta Regional in Super Regional action. The Gators will host the Super Regional if they advance out of their opening round bracket.

2 » The first team in Southeastern Conference history to advance to four consecutive Women’s College World Series, No. 4 Florida softball (52-10) begins action on Thursday when they take on No. 5 Missouri (52-8) in Oklahoma City, OK at 9:30 p.m. live on ESPN2. Opponents in the second contest, set for Friday or Saturday, will be either No. 1 Arizona State (55-6) vs. No. 9 Oklahoma (42-17); the winners of the two games will play Friday evening and the losers will square-off Saturday afternoon. The Gators, located in the bottom bracket of the WCWS, will be able to decide their fate by the end of the weekend as the championship series begins Monday, June 6.

3 » Just days after leading the Gators to the 2011 NCAA Championship in women’s tennis, sophomore Lauren Embree was forced to retire from the Final Four of the NCAA Singles Championships on Sunday due to a painful toenail and skin issue on her foot. Embree, who has been on absolute fire during the NCAAs, forfeited a tied match with Stanford’s Stacy Tan that was knotted at a set apiece (7-5, 3-6). If she had stayed in the match and won, she would have had the opportunity to compete for the individual title.

4 » Also ending their season was the men’s No. 17 doubles team of senior Alexandre Lacroix and sophomore Sekou Bangoura, Jr. Dropping a 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(4) match to No. 3 Bradley Klahn/Ryan Thacher of Stanford, Lacroix and Bangoura concluded a terrific year with a semifinals appearance. With no eligibility remaining, Lacroix will depart Florida as the school’s all-time leader in doubles wins (104) and overall wins (214).

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Schutte breaks Ducks, leads Gators to 9-1 win

Squaring off against the No. 11 Oregon Ducks just a week after taking down the No. 14 UCLA Bruins in regional action, No. 3 Florida Gators softball jumped out to a hot start and held on for an impressive run-rule victory. On the back of a pair of two-run homers by sophomore right fielder Brittany Schutte, Florida (51-10) defeated Oregon (42-15) 9-1 in five innings to open the three-game 2011 NCAA Super Regionals at Pressly Softball Stadium in Gainesville, FL.

Schutte (2-2, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 3 R, BB) hit her homers in the first and third inning, giving the Gators a quick 5-1 advantage. Senior right-handed pitcher Stephanie Brombacher (19-2) got the start and played well but was still pulled after striking out three and allowing one earned run on two hits in three innings.

She was replaced by freshman RHP Hannah Rogers, who tossed the final two innings of the game and struck out three during her appearance. Ending Rogers’s outing at two innings was Florida’s offense, which continued piling on runs.

Freshman shortstop Cheyenne Coyle (0-1, R, BB) was hit by a pitch, advanced to second via a sacrifice bunt and scored on two wild pitches in the fourth. The Gators rallied to get the bases loaded in the fifth, allowing senior first baseman Megan Bush’s (1-3, 2 RBI) infield single to score two putting Florida one run away from ending the game. Coyle was walked to load the bases, and a single by the next batter, senior catcher Tiffany DeFelice (1-2, RBI), scored Schutte from third and gave the Gators the victory.

Also contributing for Florida offensively was senior left fielder Kelsey Bruder (2-2, RBI, 3 R, BB), who plated a base runner in the first and crossed the plate three times. The Gators left three runners on base at the contest’s conclusion.

Friday’s game was not without its interesting moments. The start was pushed back to bad weather in the area, a short rain/hail delay occurred during the contest and a long foul ball from Schutte in the bottom of the first actually broke the window of a car driving by.

Florida and Oregon will square off in game two of the Super Regionals on Saturday at noon. The Gators are one victory away from advancing to the 2011 Women’s College World Series for the fourth-straight season.

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FOUR BITS: All-American, All-Tourney, charity

1 » Florida Gators shortstop Nolan Fontana, pitcher/designated hitter Brian Johnson, third baseman Austin Maddox and pitcher Hudson Randall were all named to the 2010 Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American Team as chosen by Collegiate Baseball on Wednesday. All four players were also selected for the 2010 Southeastern Conference All-Freshman Team, with Maddox leading the pack by earning 2010 SEC Freshman of the Year honors.

2 » Gators softball’s freshman utility player Brittany Schutte was named to the 2010 NCAA Women’s College World Series All-Tournament Team on Tuesday. Her 6-9 performance with three home runs in three games was an outstanding accomplishment that made her the first Florida freshman in school history to be given this honor.

3 » Gators football is set to host the third annual Gator Charity Challenge on Friday, July 30, at 7 p.m. at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. The event features members of the team, representing six different charities, squaring off against each other in three strength competitions (such as tire rolling). All of the organizations this year are affiliated with Shands Hospital – Shands Cancer Hospital, American Cancer Society, STOP! Children’s Cancer, Ronald McDonald House, American Heart Association and March of Dimes – and are being captained by seniors safety Ahmad Black, defensive tackle Brandon Antwine, linebacker Lorenzo Edwards, LB A.J. Jones, DT Terron Sanders and defensive end Duke Lemmens, respectively.

4 » The NCAA’s Academic Progress Rates (APR) have been released for the 2008-09 school year, and Florida is looking good in its rankings. The Gators are situated at No. 3 in their multiyear APR (2005-08) in both football (971) and basketball (956), behind only Vanderbilt (No. 1 in both), Georgia (No. 2 football) and Alabama (No. 2 basketball).

Photo Credit: University of Florida

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Baseball tops OSU, softball eliminated from WCWS

No. 4 Florida Gators baseball (44-15) took it to the Oregon State Beavers (32-23) early, scoring seven runs in the third innings to propel them to a 10-2 victory in the winner’s bracket semifinal of the 2010 NCAA Gainesville Regional on Saturday night at McKethan Stadium.

Sophomore starter Alex Panteliodis (10-2) tossed a career-high eight strikeouts in five innings and was relieved by sophomore Greg Larson, junior Matt Campbell and senior Chas Spottswood – all of whom shutout the Oregon State. Panteliodis’ 10th win makes him the first Florida pitcher since Alan Horne (2005) to achieve 10 victories in a season.

Offensively, the Gators were propelled by home runs from senior outfielder Matt den Dekker (2-4), junior second baseman Josh Adams (2-5) and freshman shortstop Nolan Fontana (1-3). Freshman third baseman Austin Maddox’s 3-5 day included two RBI and a run scored, and freshman designated hitter Brian Johnson (2-3) also had a nice performance from the batter’s box.

With the win, Florida advances to the final game of the Gainesville Regional, set to be played on Sunday at 7 p.m. against the victor of Oregon State vs. Florida Atlantic (36-23) match-up earlier in the afternoon. The winner will have to defeat the Gators twice in order to knock them out of the 2010 NCAA College World Series.

No. 4 Florida Gators softball (52-9) was handed a different fate Saturday evening, falling 3-2 in a close back-and-forth game to the No. 6 Georgia Bulldogs (50-12) in the 2010 NCAA Women’s College World Series at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, OK. With the loss, the Gators were eliminated from the tournament and officially end their 2010 season.

Junior pitcher Stephanie Brombacher (35-8), just hours after tossing a complete game shutout against No. 9 Missouri, started her second game of the day, once again going the distance. Tallying three earned runs (two in the first inning), Brombacher did her best to keep Georgia at bay but was unable to register a single strikeout.

Down much of the game, Florida rattled off runs in the fourth and fifth inning to tie it up 2-2. Freshman designated player Brittany Schutte (2-3) launched her third home run of the day and 19th of the season in the fourth, putting her alone at second-place in UF’s single-season record books. Pinch runner Lauren Heil scored on a wild pitch in the fifth, the Gators’ only other run of the game.

“We didn’t play our best; we played our hardest. I thought we went out and fought pretty heavily to the end,” head coach Tim Walton said after being eliminated. “It’s just one of those things, like we talked about two days ago, how hard it is to come back from the losers’ bracket. Anytime you’re eliminated it really hurts.”

Florida’s season ends with them sitting the school’s and Southeastern Conference’s single-season records in home runs (109) as well as six other program records in batting average (.331), slugging percentage (.627), on-base percentage (.432), runs (432), RBI (402) and total bases (936).

It was also the final game in the college careers of seniors outfielder Francesca Enea and third baseman Corrie Brooks, who each appeared in the WCWS three times, played in four Super Regionals and won more games than any players in team history.

Photo Credit: University of Florida

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Homers, pitching help Gators dominate Tigers

Three home runs and a standout pitching performance earned No. 4 Florida Gators softball (52-8) a 5-0 elimination game shutout victory over the No. 9 Missouri Tigers (51-13) in the 2010 NCAA Women’s College World Series on Saturday afternoon.

Freshman designated player Brittany Schutte (2-3, three RBI) knocked two dingers over the outfield wall in the fourth and sixth innings, and junior outfielder Kelsey Bruder (1-3) joined her with her own solo shot in the fifth.

Schutte’s two homers moved her into a tie for second on UF’s single-season list.

Florida’s five runs provided support for a stellar performance from junior starter Stephanie Brombacher (35-7), who overcame her propensity for picking her back foot up off the ground (which caused four illegal pitches on Thursday) to toss a complete game shutout with six strikeouts.

With the win, the Gators eliminated the Tigers from the WCWS and now move on to a second elimination game Saturday evening against No. 6 Georgia. The game will air live on ESPN and online at ESPN3.com.

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No. 5 Bruins thrash No. 4 Gators in WCWS opener

No. 4 Florida Gators softball (48-9) shouldered a tough loss Thursday, dropping the opening game of the 2010 Women’s College World Series 16-3 in six innings to the No. 5 UCLA Bruins (46-11). The ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, OK, and the game’s umpires did not do Florida any favors, calling their pitchers for almost half-a-dozen illegal pitches over the course of the game.

Megan Langenfeld (12-1), pitching 4.2 innings in relief, took home the victory for UCLA after starter Aleah Macon gave up three earned runs in the first 1.1 innings. Gators junior starter Stephanie Brombacher (34-7) was pulled after surrendering five earned runs in 2.1 innings, including a three-run first-inning homer to Bruins outfielder Andrea Harrison. Freshman Ensley Gammel replaced Brombacher but was just as ineffective, allowing six earned runs off of five hits and five walks in 2.2 innings.

UCLA’s 16 runs set a WCWS record for most in a game, and the total of 19 between the two teams also set a WCWS mark for most combined runs in a game.

Leading the way for Florida offensively was junior catcher Tiffany DeFelice (2-3), who drove in all of the team’s runs on a double in the third inning.

Though the Gators lost, the WCWS is a double-elimination tournament and the team has an opportunity to redeem itself Saturday at noon against Missouri. The game will air live on ESPN2 and ESPN3.com. Should Florida win, they will follow up the contest with a game Saturday evening at 7 p.m.

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SIX BITS: Golf in fifth, spread, softball, NFL, trivia

1 » After two days of action at the 2010 NCAA Championship in Ooltewah, TN, Florida Gators men’s golf is tied for fifth place with an even par score of 576. Florida is 14 shots off of the leader (Florida State, 562) and will compete in the final round on Thursday.

2 » CBS college football analyst Gary Danielson questions whether or not the Gators will remain successful running the spread offense without former quarterback Tim Tebow (now with the Denver Broncos) at the helm. “I’m still not sure any other spread will work in this conference,” he told Jeremy Fowler of the Orlando Sentinel. “They cannot have John Brantley getting hit 12-15 times per game. He’s too valuable. […] It was tough for [Tebow] to take the punishment of [the SEC]. This conference is more and more simulating the NFL, with sophisticated defense to put hits on people.”

Four more BITS including a softball preview, updates on Aaron Hernandez and Brandon Spikes and a Florida Gators *trivia* question…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Golf in fifth, spread, softball, NFL, trivia

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No. 4 Gators softball downs No. 13 Sun Devils, advances to Women’s College World Series

No. 4 Florida Gators softball (48-8) won its second straight game against the No. 13 Arizona State Sun Devils (44-17), defeating them 5-2 on Sunday in the second game of the Gainesville Super Regional to advance to the 2010 NCAA Women’s College World Series. Florida’s berth to the event is their third in as many years.

The Gators outscored the Sun Devils 13-2 over the weekend at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium, with junior starter Stephanie Brombacher (34-6) earning both victories in back-to-back complete game efforts. She did not allow a single run over the first 12 innings before letting ASU score one in both the sixth and seventh on Sunday.

Like Saturday, junior outfielder Kelsey Bruder (2-2) led the way for Florida offensively with three RBI off of two home runs. Fellow junior first baseman Megan Bush (1-3) added a solo shot of her own, giving the Gators a 4-0 lead going into the last six outs.

Florida will begin the WCWS by facing No. 5 UCLA in Oklahoma City, OK, on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. The game will air live on ESPN and ESPN3.com.

Baseball selected to host a regional

No. 4 Florida baseball (42-15) has been announced by the NCAA as the host of one of 16 regionals for the 2010 NCAA Tournament. Four teams, including the Gators, will compete in the Gainesville Regional at McKethan Stadium beginning on June 4.

The NCAA will announce the entire 64-team field (including Florida’s three initial opponents) live on ESPN on Monday at 12:30 p.m. This will be the third time in the last six years that a regional has been hosted in Gainesville, FL.

Photo Credit: University of Florida

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