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The Florida Gators were all over the college and professional sports landscape over the weekend, making their marks in a number of different sports. Below is a round-up of how all of your favorite teams and players did in the wide world of sports.
No. 3 Florida women's tennis (21-1) captured the 2012 SEC Tournament Championship on Sunday with a 4-1 victory over No. 7 Georgia (21-4). The Gators' latest SEC Tournament title is the team's third straight and eighth in the last 11 years. UF has also won the regular season championship in eight of the last 10 seasons.
Senior Joanna Mather and junior Lauren Embree were the stars of the finals on Sunday. The No. 19 duo of Embree/Mather clinched the doubles point with an 8-5 victory, and the individuals also won their singles matches. No. 23 Mather achieved a clean 6-4, 6-4 victory while No. 10 Embree came from behind to complete a 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 win. Mather was named the Most Valuable Player of the event, and Embree was listed on the All-Tournament Team.
Florida has now won 16 consecutive matches heading into their 30th NCAA Tournament appearance in school history. The Gators will begin competing May 11 and hope to reach the finals on May 22 to defend their 2011 national championship.
No. 5 UF (15-2, 5-0 ALC)) captured their second-straight ALC regular season crown by beating previously undefeated No. 1 Northwestern (14-1, 4-1 ALC) on Saturday. Florida squeaked by with an 8-7 win on the road in Evanston, IL to hand NU a defeat for the second time in as many seasons.
A trio of Gators including juniors midfielder Brittany Dashiell and attackers Ashley Bruns and Gabi Wiegand scored two goals apiece with Wiegand scoring the eventual game- and championship-winning goal for UF with 5:47 left in the second period.
Florida will look to win their first ALC Tournament title while hosting the event May 3-5 in Gainesville, FL. The Gators fell to the Wildcats in the 2011 finals and would be unlikely to face them again unless they reach the championship game.
No. 1 Florida came excruciatingly close to earning the program's first national title on Saturday but fell just short of Alabama which claimed the 2012 NCAA Championship by edging UF 197.850-197.775 (0.075 margin). The Gators held a 0.025 lead heading into the final rotation, but the Crimson Tide posted a stellar 49.500 on the balance beam to beat out the 49.400 that Florida achieved in the floor exercise.
The second-place finish tied the closest in school history but all was not lost for the Gators as some significant individual success was achieved Kytra Hunter. The freshman sensation won Florida's first-ever NCAA all-around championship with a 39.752 on Friday and followed that up with a national title in the vault (9.8750) on Sunday.
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The Gators' successful weekend extended well past those three teams. Below are some accomplishments that the Florida athletic program achieved over the three-day span.
- No. 1 UF baseball (31-9, 11-7 SEC) won their second-straight weekend series by winning two of three games against Georgia (24-17, 8-10 SEC) from Friday-Sunday in Gainesville. It took the Gators 16 innings to pull out a 3-2 squeaker on Friday (via a walk-off dropped third strike) though Sunday's 6-3 victory in the series finale came much easier. In between Florida dropped Saturday's contest 5-3 to UGA. Senior center fielder Daniel Pigott will make a case for SEC Player of the Week honors on Monday after finishing the weekend 7/12 with two homers, five RBIs, two runs and two walks.
-No. 3 Gators softball (41-5) swept Florida International (24-23) with a pair of victories (7-4, 9-0) in a Friday doubleheader and a 7-1 win on Saturday. Freshman left fielder Briana Little launched a three-run homer (the first of her career) in the opening contest to help power Florida. The Gators also got homers from freshman Lauren Haeger and sophomore shortstop Cheyenne Coyle in Friday's later game and two more from junior RF Ensley Gammel and freshman LF Jessica Damico in the series finale.
- Florida men's tennis (14-9) fell 4-1 in the SEC Tournament semifinals to Ole Miss (13-7), eliminating themselves from the event. UF had a first-round by based on their regular season record but was unable to capitalize on the extra day of rest.
- Three former Gators brought home bank rolls following the conclusion of the 2012 Valero Texas Open with Florida's Matt Every (-7) finishing tied for second just two strokes behind winner Ben Curtis (-9). Every missed out on the $1.116 million championship purse but still won $545,6000 for three days of work. Brian Gay (-5) tied for fourth and banked $244,125, and Billy Horschell (+14) won $12,090 even though he finished 75th.
- Forward Chandler Parsons saw the Houston Rockets' postseason hopes come to an end on Sunday but started his 57th game of the season in the process and posted one of the best lines of his young career. Parsons scored a career-high 23 points (on 10-of-13 shooting) with six rebounds, two assists, four steals and a block in a losing effort against Miami.
- Former Gators guard Walter Hodge was named MVP of the Polish Basketball League on Friday. Hodge received nine-of-14 votes from the PBL's coaches to earn the honor after having a solid all-around season for Zastalu Zielona Gora in the league.