MUST READ, IN-DEPTH LOOK AT THE 2013 SEASON, PLAYERS & TEAM
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In order to make sure Florida Gators-related news stories don't fall through the cracks, once or twice a week Orange & Blue News will keep you up-to-date with the latest goings on in the world of University of Florida athletics.
Gators baseball was at it again over the weekend - rebounding from a two-game mid-week lull with losses to Jacksonville and Florida A&M - as it swept Missouri during a three-game weekend series at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville, Florida. UF (30-15, 15-6 SEC) took down Mizzou 7-1 in Friday's season opener behind a terrific performance from freshman right-handed pitcher Logan Shore (7.1 IP, 5 H, ER, 5 K) and five big RBIs from freshman designated hitter Peter Alonso (3/4). Somehow, sophomore RHP Aaron Rhodes (9.0 IP, H, 2 BB, 6 K) tossed an even better game for Florida on Saturday by registering a complete game one-hit shutout in only his third start of the season. The Tigers refused to go quietly in Sunday's series finale, but the Gators came back to tie the game 5-5 and forced extra innings. In the bottom of the tenth, freshman left fielder Ryan Larson (2/2, RBI) smacked a single to center to score junior first baseman Zack Powers (2/5, R) and earn a walk-off win for Florida. Now up two games on Alabama (29-15, 13-8 SEC) for the top spot in the SEC standings, UF will look to hold onto its advantage through next weekend when it goes head-to-head with UA in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
Although the SEC's decision to keep an eight-game league schedule (six divisional games, two cross-divisional opponents - one permanent) and addition of a mandate that each school play a team from a "big five" conference starting in 2016 have been covered, one interesting note in the SEC's release on the subject has apparently been looked over. In describing the "permanent non-division opponent," the SEC states that the slate of games "provides each team with a traditional opponent for the final week of the season." Obviously Florida-LSU has been a midseason game for much of the rivalry, which dates back to 1971, while UF has traditionally squared off against FSU to end the regular season. Pressed for more information, the SEC would not comment to ITG and simply noted that the scheduling processes would be explained in a later release. Potentially forcing the Gators and Tigers to play the final game of the regular season would be interesting for a few reasons, especially if the league at some point determines that SEC division champions will be decided by divisional record rather than overall league mark.
The draft process has already begun for Florida center Patric Young, who has been traveling across the country interviewing agents and trying to come to a quick decision. Young recently visited Los Angeles, California to meet with two agencies but returned to Gainesville without having a final choice made. He will have to pick soon as Young will begin participating in organized workouts in hopes of getting in peak combine-ready physical condition ahead of the NBA Pre-Draft Camp. Since Young skipped the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, the premier senior-only postseason camp, an invite to and appearance at the pre-draft camp will be an important step as he approaches the 2014 NFL Draft.
Only moments after the Chicago Bulls topped the Washington Wizards 100-97 in Game 3 of their NBA Playoff series, center Joakim Noah was joking about his opposition, Nene, likely being suspended for Game 4 after getting into an altercation on the court. "Looks like you're going to lose Nene for a game," Noah was saying "to no one in particular," according to the Washington Post. "What a bummer. [Stinks] for you guys. … 'Roid rage." Unfortunately for Noah, his Bulls fell 98-89 in Game 4 and now face a 3-1 deficit as they are on the brink of elimination from the playoffs.
Rockets forward Chandler Parsons played exceptionally well during the first three quarters of Sunday night's game, scoring a team-high 26 points and looking like the go-to guy for Houston. Unfortunately for him and his team, James Harden and Dwight Howard decided to basically play a two-man game over the duration of the contest. Parsons took two total shots in the second half (none for the last 3:18 of regulation) and only saw the ball once in overtime (when he had to rush a fadeaway three-pointer) and was therefore completely ineffective as his teammates took over the game. The Rockets wound up falling 123-120 to the Portland Trailblazers, which now lead the series 3-1.
Softball was much less successful than its stickball counterparts over the weekend, dropping two contests in its three-game series against Missouri. Florida (42-10, 12-9 SEC) was undefeated for nearly three full weeks before getting up ended by Mizzou (38-13, 14-7 SEC) in the series-opener on Friday and rubber match on Sunday. The Gators are now five games back of the league-leading Crimson Tide and two games behind SEC East leader Tennessee with only three games left in the regular season.