1. Archive

Saves against 'Canes earn reliever SEC's weekly award

Based on his performance in the Gators' first three-game sweep of Miami this past weekend, senior Darren O'Day was named the SEC Pitcher of the Week on Monday.

He is the first Florida pitcher to earn the honor since Justin Hoyman in 2004. In four appearances last week, O'Day pitched 5 2/3 innings with a 0.00 ERA, seven strikeouts and one walk.

He also saved all three wins against the Hurricanes, who entered No. 18 in the Collegiate Baseball rankings. O'Day already has been named to the NCBWA Stopper of the Year watch list.

Despite a loss to Mercer on Wednesday, the Gators (6-1) remained No. 1 in the Collegiate Baseball poll and No. 2 in Baseball America. The Gators host Florida A&M on Wednesday and a tournament this weekend that includes Missouri, ranked No. 12 by Baseball America.

TRACK FIELD ADVANTAGE: The men's and women's track team will host the SEC indoor championships this weekend at theO'Connell Center. Men's coach Mike Holloway said he can't wait.

"This is why I enjoy coaching at the University of Florida, for this kind of competition," he said.

Of Florida's 50 athletes, 40 are freshmen and sophomores, but Holloway said the team has progressed well throughout the season. Unlike the two previous seasons, when the Gators were loaded at certain positions, especially sprinters, Holloway said this season's team is more balanced.

"We really believe we can score in every event," he said.

This weekend's meet will feature five of the top 20 men's teams in the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association poll, including No. 1 Arkansas and No. 3 LSU, and five of the top 20 women's teams, including No. 2 South Carolina and No. 4 LSU. But the coach hopes being at home will be at least a slight advantage for the Gators, whose men are No. 12.

"We've always maintained that no matter who the home team is, it is worth another 10 or 15 points because there's going to be somebody you don't expect to do well who will do a little better because they are home," Holloway said.

DOUBLE TAKE: At the start of last week, women's tennis coach Roland Thornqvist was so upset with his team's doubles play, he decided to shake things up.

It turned out to be a good move. The Gators, 6-0 and No. 2 in the Intercollegiate Tennis poll, shut out Florida State and No. 3 Texas.

"What a difference a week makes," Thornqvist said. "Switching the doubles lineup around helped our attitude. The team's gotten more interested. They came to the facility on Wednesday, and they didn't even know (about the changes).

"It's almost like they were forced to focus, and it injected a little energy. The chemistry is there, and they feel like we have a plan now for doubles. I thought we looked really good (against Texas)."

The Gators play at No. 11 North Carolina on Sunday.

FAITH RENEWED: When former basketball player and coaching assistant Major Parker was first arrested on drug charges in 2004, he realized quickly his life was forever changed by the reaction of those around him.

"You'd be surprised when you're a high school player, college, even after college how you have so-called friends and relatives that tell you they love you," Parker said. "But there's an old riddle, "When you cut grass, snakes will show.' When I got in trouble, the snakes showed. A lot of people I thought were in my corner were not."

But coach Billy Donovan's support never wavered, Parker said, and when he took the stand in Parker's defense Friday, his faith in Donovan was renewed.

"When he says he loves you, it's genuine," Parker said shortly after his sentencing. "He's a man of character. He's genuine. He's my hero."

Antonya English covers Florida athletics. She can be reached at (813) 226-3389 or

Up next:INSIDE