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Sunshine State Report

The latest on college sports in Florida

Gators expect tough outing against Bethune-Cookman and pitcher Rayan Gonzalez in NCAA opener

Florida will meet a familiar opponent when the Gators begin play in the NCAA Baseball Gainesville Regional on Friday.

Florida, which is the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, will play Bethune-Cookman at 7 p.m. at McKethan Stadium on the UF campus.

Florida defeated the Wildcats in both regular-season meetings - 8-6 on Feb. 21 and 10-1 on April 25. The Gators are 27-0 all-time against B-CU.

In the 2009 Gainesville Regional, it took a walk-off single by Teddy Foster to keep the Gators' win streak alive, giving Florida an 8-7 win in that game.

BC-U is expected to start pitcher MEAC Pitcher of the Year Rayan Gonzalez (9-1, 1.96 ERA, 87 1/3 IP, 74 H, 17 BB, 79 SO), which UF coach Kevin O'Sullivan said will make earning a victory no easy task.

Earlier today, O'Sullivan talked about what makes Gonzalez so good, and what he expects from the Gators this weekend:



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Steve Spurrier wants SEC champions to be decided by divisional play only

As the SEC football coaches gathered this week at the league's spring meetings, among the topics is a growing debate over how to best determine the SEC champs.

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier is a strong proponent of a system in which conference champions are decided based only on divisional play. Last season, the Gamecocks won all of its SEC East games, but losses to SEC West teams Arkansas and Auburn kept South Carolina from an SEC East title. …

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Keeping Florida as permanent rival not necessarily a top priority for LSU coach Les Miles

As discussions continue about how best to carve out league schedules in the future with the addition of two teams to the SEC, the debate over holding onto long-time rivals continued this week at the SEC spring meetings.

LSU coach Les Miles said that keeping Florida as a permanent rival isn't necessarily a must.

Miles, who supports a plan offered up by South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier that would crown division champions based solely on their play within the division, said he's more concerned with equity and fairness in league play, than just holding onto teams that have been a constant on the schedule in the past.

"I promise you competition is not the issue,'' Miles said when asked if he's in favor of keeping Florida as a traditional rival which meets annually on the schedule. "I think it’s wonderful competition. If it helps pick the division champion, I think it’s a mistake.''

Miles said with the addition of Missouri and Texas A&M to the conference, the league needs to be able to define rivals and be willing to make adjustments to who is permanently on each other's schedules based on factors other than past history.  …

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Gator golf team in second at NCAA Tournament heading into second day

The Florida men’s golf team shot an opening round 288 (+4), and are tied for second place overall at the 2012 NCAA Championships, which is being played at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif.

On Tuesday, the Gators were led by junior Tyler McCumber who shot a bogey-free 68 (-3), which also landed him in a tie for second place.

McCumber started his day with six consecutive pars before breaking through with a birdie at the par-4 seventh. Two more pars at eight and nine saw McCumber go out in 34 (-1).  After a stretch of seven-consecutive pars, McCumber carded a birdie on the difficult, par-4, 18th to post his 17th round at or under par on the season.

Senior Michael Furci survived three bogeys on the front to post a 72. Junior T.J. Vogel finished his opening round with a 72, and freshmen J.D. Tomlinson and Eric Banks each posted rounds of 76 (+5) to round out the Gators' lineup.

Play continues today, and the Gators tee off at 3:20. Live scoring for the second round is available through …

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Allowing Damontre Harris to transfer to Florida was the right thing to do, Frank Martin says

It’s not exactly the way he had hoped to start his tenure as South Carolina’s new basketball coach, but dealing with transfer issues when you take over a new job is sometimes part of the deal.

And former Kansas State coach Frank Martin said his decision to allow 6-foot-9 forward Damontre Harris to transfer to Florida was about doing the right thing, even if it wasn't the most ideal situation for the Gamecocks.

“If that young man does not want to be at this school, then you shouldn’t hold him hostage,’’ Martin said while attending the SEC spring meetings. “Now we’ve got to compete against Damontre and I don’t like that. But why should I block him from going to the school he wants to play at, as long as things were handled the right way?  I don’t believe in this whole thing that you should be able to recruit guys (at other schools) that’s crazy. But as long as things are handled the proper way, as long as we all handle things like adults and educators and those kids and those families are up front and communicate with all the appropriate people, it’s no different than me getting out of my contract, if I handle things the right way.’’ …

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Gators' Preston Tucker among four players named first-team All-SEC

Former Tampa Plant standout Preston Tucker is among four Gators honored as first-team All-SEC selections chosen by the league’s coaches - the most since 1991. It is the third consecutive season the Gators have had a total of five All-SEC selections.

Tucker joined P/DH Brian Johnson, P Steven Rodriguez and C Mike Zunino on the first team. Junior SS Nolan Fontana was a second team selection, and 3B Josh Tobias was selected to the All-Freshman team. Tucker and Fontana have been All-SEC selections three times, joining an elite group of Florida players to achieve that honor including: includes Josh Adams (2008, 2009, 2011), Mike Stanley (1982, 84, 85), Marc Valdes (1991, 92, 93) and Brad Wilkerson (1996, 97, 98).  

This season, Tucker hit a team-best .322 with 24 RBI, 20 runs, nine doubles and seven HR’s in conference action. Tucker has a .312 average and is second on the team in hits (73), runs (49), RBI (44), walks (30), doubles (15) and home runs (14). …

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Gators earn No. 1 overall national seed in NCAA baseball tournament

The Florida baseball team earned the top national seed for the 2012 NCAA Baseball Tournament, which begins on Friday at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville. This will be the Gators' 28th Regional appearance, and fifth consecutive under head coach Kevin O’Sullivan.

This is the fourth-consecutive year that UF has been a national seed (No. 8 in 2009, No. 3 in 2010 and No. 2 in 2011).

The top-seeded Gators (42-18) will play No. 4 seed Bethune-Cookman (34-25) at 7 p.m. on Friday. Second-seeded Georgia Tech (36-24) will play third-seeded College of Charleston (37-20) in the opening game at 1 p.m.

“Obviously, this is a great time of the year for everybody,” O’Sullivan said. “We’re excited to be in it. We’re excited to be home. Obviously, we’re going to have to play well if we want to advance. Our only concern right now is on Bethune (Cookman) and hopefully we have a great week of practice. I like this team going forward, but it’s one game at a time and we’re going to have to play well. Our regional is a tough one and we’ll just worry about one game at a time.”

The entire NCAA Gainesville Regional can be seen on ESPN3.

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Florida Gators to host NCAA baseball regional

Florida will be one of 16 NCAA Baseball regional host sites, the NCAA announced on Sunday.

Four teams will compete at McKethan Stadium in a double-elimination tournament starting on Friday, June 1. The winner will advance to the best-of-three Super Regional to be held the following weekend at eight different sites.

The Gators will learn their opponent, and the other teams that will compete in its regional when the 64-team field for the NCAA Tournament is announced live on ESPNU, Monday at noon.  

“We’re extremely happy about hosting games in Gainesville,” UF head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “It is great news for the program, our players, the university and the fans, and we appreciate the support.”

No. 2 Florida (42-18) advanced to the semifinals of the SEC Tournament for the third year in a row after tying for third in the league’s regular-season standings. The Gators have been among the top-five teams in the national polls all season. 

UF will be hosting an NCAA Regional for the fourth consecutive year. Last season, the Gators advanced to the College World Series, where they finished as national runner-up to South Carolina. …

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Allie Will's season ends in NCAA tennis semifinals

Florida junior Allie Will fell short of her goal to win an NCAA individual title on Sunday in a three-set loss to Stanford's Nicole Gibbs.

Will, who is ranked No. 1 in the nation, forced a third set before third-ranked Gibbs earned the victory 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 in the NCAA Women’s Tennis Singles Championships at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga.

"Allie played her best match of the entire tournament,” UF head coach Roland Thornqvist said. “It was a great match against Nicole. You have to give a lot of credit to Nicole, she found a way in the third set. There was a pivotal game when she was up 3-1 and made it 4-1. She found a way to get that game and that was the difference. If it had been 3-2 it would have been a different match.

“Allie really made it tough and physical in the second set with some deep, big heavy forehands in the second set and was able to wear Nicole down a little,” Thornqvist added. “Then there was the 10-minute, heat-rule break and I think Nicole got her legs back a bit and got off to a hot start in the third set. I’m really, really proud of Allie. She played better each match during this tournament.'' …

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Gators begin play in NCAA lacrosse tournament as No. 1 overall seed

The No. 1 Florida lacrosse team begins its quest for a national championship today when they host Albana (12-5) in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at Donal R. Dizney Stadium.

The game will begin at 1 p.m.

The Gators (17-2) earned the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament after winning its first ALC Tournament title last weekend in Gainesville, defeating Northwestern.

Albany had a crucial run late in the America East Tournament, including back-to-back upsets of top-see Boston University and No. 2 Stony Brook to qualify for its second consecutive NCAA Tournament.

Florida coach Amanda O'Leary met with the media this week and discussed the significance of beginning tournament play at home, and the meteoric rise of the program in just three seasons.



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Former Gators John Brantley, Deonte Thompson sign with Baltimore Ravens

Former Florida QB John Brantley and WR Deonte Thompson are among 19 players who have signed free agent contracts with the Baltimore Ravens.

Brantley started 23 games for the Gators, compiling a 15-8 record. He is expected to compete with veteran Curtis Painter for the No. 3 quarterback job.

Thompson's best shot may be getting an opportunity on special teams. He had 101 receptions for 446 yards and nine touchdowns in his career at Florida. But what has impressed NFL scouts is his speed. He reportedly ran between a 4.23 and a 4.33 40 during NFL team workouts.

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Gators begin competition for SEC track and field titles today

The No. 1 Florida men's track and field team, and the fourth-ranked UF women's teams will both begin competition today at the 2012 SEC Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Baton Rouge, La.

The event will take place today - Sunday at Bernie Moore Track Stadium on the campus of LSU.

Both the men and women's teams finished as SEC runner-up last year. Nine Gators lead their event categories heading into the weekend.

"I feel really good about both teams going in,'' Florida head coach Mike Holloway said. "We've had a very successful year outdoors as we build toward what we call the championship season. We're very, very excited about going into Baton Rouge and competing.''

Live coverage of the meet will air on on Saturday and Sunday. from 5:30-8:15 p.m. Saturday and from 4-8 p.m. on Sunday.


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Florida Gators No. 1 lacrosse team ready to make a statement in NCAA Tournament

In three years, the Florida lacrosse team has gone from upstart first-year program to a No. 1 ranking and a No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament.

The Gators will open NCAA Tournament play at home on Saturday, at 1 p.m., against Albany.

Today, several Gator players met with the media to talk about the team's ranking, their metoric rise to the top and expectations in their quest for a national title.

Hear what freshman Shannon Gilroy and juniors Emily Dohony and Sam Farrell had to say here:

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Florida Gators senior Michelle Moultrie is SEC Softball Player of the Year

38.jpgIt's been an impressive couple of weeks for Florida senior centerfielder Michelle Moultrie.

This past weekend she graduated from UF, earning a Business Administration degree. Today, she was named the SEC Player of the Year in softball, the league office announced.

Moultrie becomes the fourth Florida player to earn the Player of the Year honor, and is the second Gator to earn the accolade in as many years.  She has 23 bunt singles on the year and leads the SEC in batting average and fielding percentage. Moultrie also ranks third in the SEC in hits, doubles and on‐base percentage, and is fifth in runs scored and slugging percentage. She is also a Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award finalist, ranks 10th in the nation in runs per game and was named USA Softball National Player of the Week midway through the season for her play against Arkansas.

Moultrie's Gator teammates - pitcher Hannah Rogers and catcher Kelsey Horton (a former Durant standout) - were named to the All-SEC second team. Rogers and Moultrie were also named to the SEC All-Defensive team.

Gator pitcher Alyssa Bache, IF Lauren Haeger, IF Sami Fagan and OF Jessica Damico were all named to the SEC All-Freshman team. …

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It's unanimous: Florida Gators No. 1 in lacrosse

Three years after beginning its women's lacrosse program, Florida has risen to the top of the nation's programs.

The Gators are ranked No. 1 in this week's IWLCA (Intercollegiat Women's Lacrosse Association) poll - receiving all 20 first place votes. Florida is just the 14th team in poll history to be ranked No. 1.

Also, the Gators are ranked No. 1 in the Inside Lacrosse/deBeer Media poll and received the No 1 overall seed for the 2012 NCAA Tournament.  …

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