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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.
Back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2009 and 13th time in school history, nine-seed Florida women's basketball (20-12) defeated eight-seed Ohio State (25-7) 70-65 in first-round action on Sunday. The Gators held an eight-point lead in the first half before allowing the Buckeyes to cut their deficit to two points close to the end of the contest.
However, Florida's offense (fueled by nine three-pointers) kept them in the game for the duration even after UF went on a three-minute scoring drought that included four untimely turnovers. Junior forward Jennifer George led the way for the Gators with 16 points (as well as six rebounds), but senior guard Lanita Bartley was the player of the game with 15 points, four boards, three assists and two steals.
Things will not be any easy for Florida in the second-round as they are scheduled to face top-seeded Baylor (34-0) and player of the year Brittney Griner on Tuesday.
No. 1 Florida (19-1, 3-0 SEC) extended their winning streak to a school-record 17 games with a three-game sweep of Vanderbilt (7-13, 0-3 SEC) over the weekend at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville, FL.
The Gators outscored the Commodores 23-5 from Friday-Sunday, beginning the weekend with a dominant 10-2 victory. Junior right-handed pitcher Hudson Randall (3-0, 6.2 IP) matched a season-high with six strikeouts and held on for the win even though UF was behind 2-0 through 4.5 innings. Florida rallied for five runs in the bottom of the fifth, four more in the seventh and another in the eighth while holding Vanderbilt scoreless for the remainder of the contest. Senior right fielder Preston Tucker (2/5, 3 RBI, R) and freshman first baseman Taylor Gushue (1/4, 2 RBI) led the way offensively.
Saturday's game was a lower scoring affair with the Gators clinching the series via a 5-1 victory on the heels of some terrific pitching by junior left-hander Brian Johnson (3-0, 6.0 IP), who matched a career-high with nine strikeouts while allowing just two singles in his outing. Florida held a 1-0 advantage through 4.5 innings but once again utilized a high-scoring bottom of the fifth including two RBIs apiece from Tucker (1/3, HR, R, BB) and senior center fielder Daniel Pigott (1/5, R).
UF put a tight bow on the weekend with an 8-2 win in Sunday's series finale. The Gators scored five runs while sophomore RHP Jonathon Crawford (2-1, 5.0 IP, 3 H, 2 BB, 6 K) was on the mound, allowing the youngster to pick up the victory. Florida's offense was fueled by a trio of solo homers from Gushue (1/4, 2 RBI, R), Tucker (1-3, RBI, 2 R, BB) and freshman second baseman Casey Turgeon (2-2, RBI, 2 R, BB) though four other players also batted a run in over the course of the contest.
The Gators will host Samford on Tuesday at 7 p.m. before travelling to Columbia, SC for a three-game series against South Carolina lasting from Thursday through Sunday. All three games against USC will be televised.
No. 4 Florida softball (26-2, 7-1 SEC) earned a sweep of their own over the weekend, combining to outscore South Carolina 17-4 over a three-game series at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium in Gainesville.
Sophomore RHP Hannah Rogers (14-1, S 2) picked up two wins (Friday, Sunday) and a save (Saturday) in the series as freshman RHP Lauren Haeger (8-1) grabbed the other victory and also dominated with her bat. Haeger went 5/8 over the three games with a home run, six RBIs and a run scored.
The Gators won Friday's game 9-1 behind three RBIs each by Haeger (2/3) and freshman designated hitter Bailey Castro (1/1, HR, 2 BB, R). Castro (1/2) notched the only RBI in Saturday's 1-0 victory but was silenced in Sunday's game. Both Haeger (3/4, 3 RBI, R) and sophomore shortstop Cheyenne Coyle (1-3, 2 RBI, R) went yard in the series finale, a 7-3 win for UF.
Florida will have nearly a full week off before travelling to Fayetteville, AR for a three-game series against Arkansas beginning on Friday.
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 Gators gymnastics (11-1) posted the second-highest total in the nation this season to conclude their 2012 regular season. Florida took down No. 7 Utah 197.900-196.475 in Gainesville as sophomore Alaina Johnson captured event titles in the vault (9.90), uneven bars (9.95) and balance beam (9.925) while also winning the all-around (39.675). She split two of her titles with teammates as juniors Ashanee Dickerson (uneven bars) and Marissa King (balance beam) matched her scores. King also split the floor exercise event title with freshman Kytra Hunter (9.95).
- No. 6 UF lacrosse (8-2) upended William & Mary (2-6) 21-8 on the road Saturday behind five goals from junior midfielder Brittany Dashiell and four each from junior attackers Kitty Cullen and Gabi Wiegand and freshman M Shannon Gilroy.
- In his first game as the starting signal caller for the Jacksonville Sharks of the AFL, former Florida quarterback Chris Leak completed 21 of 31 passes for 196 yards with five touchdowns and one interception. Jacksonville won 52-28 and scored 38 unanswered points in the second half.
- NFL free agency began this week and three Gators found homes even though all three wound up resigning with their former team. Defensive end Jeremy Mincey started things off by agreeing to a four-year deal with Jacksonville on Wednesday worth a maximum of $27.2 million, spurning a competitive offer from Chicago. Quarterback Rex Grossman then agreed to a one-year deal with Washington on Saturday to return to the team as a backup. On Sunday, Cincinnati re-signed safety Reggie Nelson to a four-year contract at an unspecified amount; he was also offered a similar deal by the New York Jets.