PARTING THOUGHTS: 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 on Monday was awarded with the No. 2 national seed in the 2014 NCAA Tournament but other than guaranteeing its spot as a regional host, Florida did not receive much help from the committee in terms of seeding and regional assignments. Despite being the second-ranked team in the nation, UF will host Long Beach State (32-24), North Carolina (34-25) and College of Charleston (41-17) in the Gainesville Regional. Florida and College of Charleston, a very talented regional four seed, will open up competition on Friday at 7 p.m. Meanwhile, in the southern part of the state, the Coral Gables regional will feature not-nationally-ranked Miami (41-17), which gets Texas Tech (40-18), Columbia (29-18) and sub-.500 Bethune-Cookman (26-31). The winner of those two regional will match up in Super Regional action for a chance to advance to the College World Series.
Already in the NCAA Tournament is No. 5 Gators softball, which advanced to the Women's College World Series for the sixth time in seven years on Sunday. Outscoring opponents 28-0 after run-ruling No. 12 Washington 9-0 in the first game of the Gainesville Super Regional on Saturday, Florida fell 4-3 in game two but fought against both the Huskies and the elements to pull off another run-rule victory on Sunday evening. A total weather delay of five hours and 32 minutes stalled the contest on three occasions, but Gators senior right-hander Hannah Rogers (5.0 IP, H, 3 BB, 6 K) was dominant on the mound, improving to 26-8 on the season with 23 consecutive scoreless innings. Leading 5-0 in the bottom of the fifth, Florida ended the game with one swing from sophomore center fielder Kirsti Merritt, who sealed the victory with a walk-off, three-run bomb to ensure the contest did not extend past five innings. UF will open up WCWS play on Thursday against No. 13 Baylor; its half of the bracket also includes No. 1 Oregon and No. 8 Florida State.
There are Gators not named Patric Young working out for NBA teams. Point guard Scottie Wilbekin has already traveled to Utah and has workouts scheduled this week with Chicago, Memphis and Phoenix, according to ESPN.com's Jeff Goodman. Forward Casey Prather, who like Wilbekin participated in a mini pre-draft camp held in Los Angeles, California, last week, visited with Philadelphia over the weekend. Young was scheduled to have a workout with Indiana in Miami, Florida, but it was canceled with a promise of rescheduling at a later date.
One week in the big leagues has already resulted in two big plays for former Gators shortstop Cole Figueroa, who smacked a walk-off RBI - the only run of the game - on Friday for the Tampa Bay Rays. The game-winning double sent Tampa Bay to a win over Boston and Figueroa into the outfield to celebrate. He stopped rounding the bases after the winning run crossed the plate and at first tried to avoid the charging of his teammates to celebrate the pinch-hit triumph. "I was like, 'I'm going to get a head start, and they're not going to catch me, so this moment's going to last forever,'" he told Tampa Bay Online.
Ryan Lochte is still recovering from a torn ACL, the worst injury of his career and one that has supposedly put him in a different mindset. Considering the fact that it had nothing to do with athletics - he injured the ligament by catching a Gainesville fan that jumped into his arms - Lochte has also taken a new perspective on his training. According to The Associated Press, Lochte is no longer being trained by Florida head coach Gregg Troy and is now living in Charlotte, North Carolina. He is hoping to compete in the upcoming national championships and Pan Pacific Championships before suiting up again for the United States in the next Olympics.