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Former Gators right-hander Jonathon Crawford is now a Connecticut Tiger.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – One of the lasting images I have of Jonathon Crawford as a Gator – besides that no-hitter he tossed in the 2012 NCAA Tournament – came during the flight home from the Bloomington (Ind.) Regional earlier this month.
Crawford was just another college kid that night dressed in team-issued khakis and a polo shirt, napping most of the flight home in the aisle across from where I sat. Before taking off he huddled with a few others to watch the UF softball team’s epic game against Nebraska in the College World Series.
He woke when we landed in Gainesville and to everyone’s surprise, the softball game was still on, so Crawford watched it on a fellow traveler’s iPhone as we waited to exit the plane. He then grabbed his bags and boarded the team bus for the ride back to campus with his teammates.
I remember wondering if Crawford, projected to go high in the draft, had any idea what the next few days were going to be like.
That was June 1.
In the 17 days since, Crawford’s life has moved faster than his 95-mph fastball.
Five days after making his final start for the Gators on May 31, the junior right-hander from Okeechobee was at home when the Tigers called to say they planned to draft him with the No. 20 overall pick in the first round of the MLB First-Year Players Draft.
As a first-round draft pick, Crawford was guaranteed to become a millionaire if he inked a deal. He did so Friday, signing a contract that paid him a bonus of just more than $2 million according to Baseball America.
Crawford signed the contract at home in Okeechobee on Friday, traveled to Detroit’s spring training home in Lakeland for a physical Saturday morning, and then boarded a flight for Norwich, Conn., Saturday afternoon.
He worked out with his new teammates on the Connecticut Tigers, Detroit’s low-A team in the New York-Penn League, later that day.
That is what you call first-round treatment.
“It’s about time we get a first-round pick,’’ Connecticut manager Andrew Graham told the Norwich Bulletin. “I’m looking forward to seeing Crawford in action.”
Norwich opened the season Monday night against the Lowell (Mass.) Spinners, the same New York-Penn League team three of Crawford’s former UF teammates – Austin Maddox, Greg Larson and Brian Johnson – began their professional careers with a year ago.
That is life for a college player turned pro. One week you’re in Omaha, the next week in Oneonta.
Crawford can expect to make his first appearance soon for the Tigers, who face Lowell again Tuesday night. While Crawford’s past two weeks have been life altering, the real work is just beginning.
The Tigers drafted him hoping one day that he will call Comerica Park home, maybe even take over as the team’s ace and develop into the next Justin Verlander.
That’s a lofty goal Crawford can at least dream about during sleepy bus rides in the minors. For now, he is busy playing for his new team and learning how to be a professional.
If he needs any advice from Verlander, maybe he can ask one of his new teammates for his number: outfielder Ben Verlander, Justin’s younger brother.
Found the video above on YouTube this morning. Enjoy as the countdown toward the season opener against Toledo continues ... 73 days, 12 hours, and counting as of this writing. Also, some links of interest for Gator fans as lunch approaches on this Tuesday afternoon:
--Gators men’s basketball coach Billy Donovan is trying to build team chemistry in a short time in his role as head coach of the USA Basketball U19 World Championships team writes Kevin Brockway of the Gainesville Sun.
--Meanwhile, Donovan said recently suspended Gators guard Scottie Wilbekin “needs to prove that he wants to be part of the team” in this story from the Sun.
--Found this five-part series on college football’s targeting rule from Jon Solomon of the Birmingham (Ala.) News interesting.
--According to an ESPN SportsNation poll, South Carolina QB Connor Shaw, LSU’s Zach Mettenberger and Florida’s Jeff Driskel will be the three most-improved QBs in the SEC next season.
--Gators sophomore LB Antonio Morrison, projected to be one of UF’s top defensive players, is facing off-the-field trouble writes Ed Aschoff of ESPN.com.
--The Angels nearly once drafted Tim Tebow to play baseball writes NFL.com.
--Former Gators catcher Mike Zunino is getting trial by fire in his first week in the majors writes Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times.
--If you want to keep up with how former Gators are doing in the professional ranks, UF baseball SID John Hines has created a page on GatorZone that makes it easy.
--Columnist Stu Whitney of Sioux Falls (S.D.) Argus Leader writes about former Gators standout Mike Miller and his revival as a clutch long-distance shooter. The Heat will need him in Game 6vs. Spurs.
--Former Gators forward Erik Murphy continues his path toward the NBA Draft in his latest blog entry for OnlyGators.com.
--Former Gators guard Kenny Boynton, who finished his career as the program’s all-second second-leading scorer, worked out for Portland on Monday.
--Vikings.com caught up with former Gators DT Sharrif Floyd on his progress after 10 OTAs (organized team activities). Click here for the page where the VIDEO interview is with Floyd.
Sunday June 16, 2013Horschel in hunt at U.S. Open, Zunino's first homer, Elam's INT, plus more tidbits
Updated: 9:31am, June 16
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- If you are a golf fan and enjoy a good drama on TV, today is your lucky day.
The final round of the U.S. Open at quirky Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa., is must-see TV.
There is also UF connection to keep you interested. Former Gators golfer Billy Horschel is in the mix behind leader Phil Mickelson entering today's final round.
Horschel is one of the up-and-comers on the PGA Tour and is in contention for his first major.
Here is more info on Horschel and other UF connections this Sunday morning:
--Horschel finally missed a green on Saturday, but he remains in contention on Sunday writes Florida Today.
--For more on Horschel's precision approach shots this week, check out this story by Brendan Prunty of the Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger.
--Gators sophomore guard Michael Frazier is getting a shot to play for Gators coach Billy Donovan on the USA Basketball U19 squad writes Kevin Brockway of the Gainesville Sun.
--Former Gators soccer star Abby Wambach scored her 156th career international goal Saturday in the U.S.'s 4-1 win over South Korea at Gillette Stadium. Wambach is only two behind Mia Hamm's American record writes the AP via USA Today.
--In case you missed it, former Gators catcher Mike Zunino only needed two games in the big leagues to hit his first home run writes Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times. (Link to video of Zunino's homer)
--Former Gators quarterback Tim Tebow returned home to the Sunshine State to hone his game prior to signing with New England writes The Boston Herald.
--Gators triple jumper Omar Craddock's UF career is over but his place in the school record book is safe writes Gordon Streisand of the Independent Florida Alligator.
--Former Gators safety Matt Elam picked off Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco during minicamp but forgot to run on the return -- one of his few mistakes writes Ravens.com.
--Former Gators volleyball All-American Kelly Murphy helped the U.S. and coach Karch Kiraly advance to the Pan American Cup in Lima, Peru.
Friday June 14, 2013Postage Provided: Gators men's track team should receive NCAA Championship trophy soon
Updated: 2:54pm, June 14
Gators men's track coach Mike Holloway, right, and Texas A&M coach Pat Henry pose with the NCAA title trophy.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Gators track coach Mike Holloway has already moved on to the next stop on his schedule, the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships starting Wednesday in Des Moines, Iowa.
Holloway is the men’s head coach for Team USA.
As for the hardware the UF men’s team won Saturday at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Ore., it should be in the Lemerand Center when Holloway returns.
The Gators used a dramatic win in the 4x400-meter relay – the final event of the meet – to share the national title with Texas A&M. It marked the first time in 35 years the event featured co-national champions (UCLA and UTEP shared the title in 1978).
At the awards presentation, Holloway and Aggies coach Pat Henry both held the trophy as photographers took their photo to commemorate the national title.
With only one national championship trophy on site, a coin flip determined which school got to bring the trophy home.
“Tails never fails and it failed me this time,” Holloway said this week. “It's no big deal. It doesn't change the moment at all. I'm just embracing this group of young people and the time and the effort and the energy they put into this championship.”
Since the coin landed on heads, Henry and the Aggies left Eugene with the trophy. Athletes and coaches from both schools received championship shirts and hats.
NCAA officials will ship Florida’s trophy to campus in the next few days.
The Gators don’t seem to mind. Not after pulling off a stirring comeback for their second consecutive national outdoor title and fifth title in the past four years. The Gators men’s team won Indoor titles from 2010-12.
“All I know is we're all getting rings,” said Arman Hall, who ran the final leg in the 4x400. “So that's the only thing we really care about. Sure, we would like to have the trophy in our stand, but in our mind, we won it.”
Thursday June 13, 2013What would a lineup of UF's all-time big leaguers look like? Something like this...
Updated: 3:41pm, June 13
Mike Zunino made his major league debut on Wednesday night for Seattle.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Former Gators catcher Mike Zunino, the third overall pick of the 2012 MLB Draft, made his major league debut Wednesday night for the Seattle Mariners.
Zunino arrived at Safeco Field to much ballyhoo for an organization in need of a jolt. Seattle fans got a glimpse of what Gator fans saw for three years.
In his first game, Zunino went 1-for-4, picking up his first career hit with a single up the middle off Houston starter Jordan Lyles. Zunino also threw out a runner attempting to steal in Seattle’s 6-1 loss.
The game was a classic pitchers’ duel as Zunino and Mariners starter Jeremy Bonderman worked well together during Bonderman’s eight shutout innings. However, Seattle closer Tom Wilhelmsen faltered in the ninth as Houston scored six runs.
Zunino became the 56th player in UF baseball history to reach the majors. With that in my mind, it got me thinking about the best major league lineup you could pencil in using only Florida players.
Maybe one day Zunino or Paco Rodriguez or Nick Maronde or others from recent Florida teams will make the cut, but as of now, here is the best lineup this manager came up with using only former Gators who played in the majors:
C Mike Stanley
Stanley played at UF from 1982-85 and made his major league debut in ’86 with the Texas Rangers. Stanley played 15 seasons in the big leagues – the longest tenure of any player in UF history – making stops in Texas, New York (Yankees), Boston, Toronto and Oakland. Stanley enjoyed the most success during his four seasons with the Yankees from 1992-95. Stanley hit 26 home runs and drove in 84 runs in 1993 and earned a spot on the American League All-Star Team in 1995.
1B Herbert Perry
Perry made his big league debut in 1994 with Cleveland after playing at UF from 1988-91. He started his career as a utility player for the Indians and played in the 1995 World Series. He later spent time with Tampa Bay, Chicago (White Sox) and Texas before playing his final game in September 2004 with the Rangers. Perry’s best season came in 2002 with the Rangers when he hit 22 home runs and had 77 RBIs.
2B Robby Thompson
Thompson played at Florida in 1983 after starting his college career at Palm Beach Community College. He was selected by the San Francisco Giants in the ’83 draft and made his debut with San Francisco on April 8, 1986. He was a mainstay in the Giants’ lineup for the next 11 seasons, retiring after the 1996 season. Thompson finished second in National League Rookie of the Year voting in 1986 and made two All-Star teams (’88, ’93). His best season was 1993 when he won a Gold Glove and had his most productive season at the plate with 19 home runs and 65 RBIs as the Giants won 103 games but finished second to the Braves in the NL West in the last great pennant race before the wild card was adopted by MLB. Thompson was in Seattle’s dugout Wednesday night during Zunino’s debut. He is the Mariners’ bench coach.
(Note: This position was probably the toughest since former Gators INF Mark Ellis also plays second base and has put together a career comparable to Thompson's. Ellis is the utility player on this team).
SS David Eckstein
A former walk-on at UF, Eckstein is one of the most well-known inspirational stories in baseball history. The 5-foot-6, 170-pound Eckstein made his mark with the Gators from 1994-97 and after working his way up the minors, he made his major league debut with the Angels in 2001. In his second season in the majors he finished 11th in the AL MVP race and helped the Angels beat the Giants in the World Series. Eckstein won another World Series with the Cardinals in 2006, earning MVP honors for hitting .364 with three doubles and four RBIs in the series. He finished his career in 2010 after playing 1,311 games in 10 seasons.
3B Al Rosen
Rosen played at UF in 1941 and ’42 before signing with the Cleveland Indians. He made his major league debut in 1947 and for the next 10 seasons developed into one of the game’s top players. Rosen was named American League MVP in 1953 when he hit .336 with a career-high 43 home runs and led the league with 145 RBIs. Rosen was an All-Star from 1952-55 and drove in 100 or more runs every season from 1950-54. He retired due to back problems in 1956 and later became a major league general manager, building the Giants teams that won the NL West in 1987 and ’89.
OF Brad Wilkerson
Wilkerson starred at UF from 1996-98 and was a first-round draft pick of the Montreal Expos. He made his major league debut in 2001 with the Expos and in 2002, his first full season in the majors, Wilkerson finished second in National League Rookie of the Year voting (.266, 20 HRs, 59 RBIs). Wilkerson spent eight seasons in the big leagues, making stops in Washington, Texas, Seattle and Toronto after four seasons in Montreal. His best season was in 2004 with the Expos when he hit a career-high 32 home runs, drove in 67 runs and scored a career-high 112 runs, which ranked seventh in the NL that season. He played his final game on Sept. 28, 2008 at the age of 31.
OF Ryan Raburn
Raburn played for the Gators during the 2000 season after stops at South Florida Community College and USF. He was a fifth-round pick of the Tigers in 2001 and climbed his way through Detroit’s farm system to make his major league debut in 2004. Raburn didn’t stick with the Tigers until 2007 and has developed into a steady everyday player. He is hitting .288 with seven home runs and 20 RBIs in 37 games this season, his first with the Cleveland Indians. He hit .280 with 15 home runs and a career-high 62 RBIs in 2010.
OF Lance Richbourg
Richbourg has the distinction of being the first UF baseball player to ever play in the majors, making his debut on July 4, 1921 for the Philadelphia Phillies. Richbourg only played 10 games for the Phillies and returned to UF to coach the Gators during the 1922-23 seasons. He returned to the big leagues in 1924 with the Washington Senators and after playing only 15 games, did not play again in the majors until 1927 with the Boston Braves. He spent the 1926 season as Florida’s coach. However, Richbourg finally found a home in Boston and over the next five seasons was a starting outfielder. A teammate of Rogers Hornsby in 1928, Richbourg had his best season that year, finishing 15th in National League MVP voting. He hit .337 that season with 26 doubles, 12 triples, two homers and 52 RBIs. He finished his career in 1932 with the Cubs and died in 1975 at the age of 77.
SP Josh Fogg
A right-hander out of Cardinal Gibbons High in Fort Lauderdale, Fogg played for the Gators from 1996-98. He was a third-round draft pick of the White Sox and made his big league debut for Chicago in 2001. He was traded to Pittsburgh prior to the 2002 season and finished seventh in NL Rookie of the Year voting after going 12-12 with a 4.35 ERA in 33 starts. In nine seasons in the majors, Fogg won 10 or more games five times and finished his career in 2009 with a career record of 62-69, the most wins of any pitcher in school history.
RP Doug Corbett
Corbett played at UF from 1970-74 and made it to the big leagues with the Minnesota Twins in 1980. He immediately made an impact for the Twins, finishing third in AL Rookie of the Year voting as one of baseball’s top relievers. He went 8-6 and saved 23 games in 73 appearances, posting a 1.98 ERA over 136 1/3 innings. He made the All-Star team in his second season, going 2-6 with 17 saves and 2.57 ERA in 54 appearances. Corbett never matched the success from his first two seasons in the majors but was good enough to hang around for eight seasons and played a key role for the 1986 Angles team that lost the ALCS to the Red Sox. He pitched in 46 games that season, going 4-2 with a 3.66 ERA and 10 saves. He played for Baltimore in 1987, his final season in the majors. His 66 career saves are the most for any UF pitcher to make the majors.
Wednesday June 12, 2013Zunino's big day, Tebow's Patriots debut, plus more tidbits
Updated: 8:57am, June 12
Former Gators catcher Mike Zunino was called up to the majors by Seattle on Tuesday.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Mike Zunino was in Las Vegas on Tuesday morning when he got a surprise phone call from Mariners farm director Chris Gwynn.
They exchanged pleasantries, and then Gwynn asked the former Gators catcher: "Why do you think I'm calling you?"
"I can think of two things,'' Zunino replied.
It was the better of the two options: Zunino was on his way to the majors, the first position player in the 2012 draft to be called up.
Zunino's promotion was big news in Seattle. The Mariners are struggling and in need of a jolt to get fans excited.
--No harm, no foul writes John McGrath of the Bellingham (Wash.) Herald if Zunino's early promotion doesn't work out for Mariners.
--Tim Tebow made his Patriots debut Tuesday but don't expect to see much of Tebow at practice writes Ben Volin of the Boston Globe.
--Patriots coach Bill Belichick clamped down on Tebowmania at Tuesday's press conference writes Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com.
--Tebow called it an "honor" to have opportunity to play for New England coach Bill Belichick writes ESPN.com.
--ICYMI, Gators point guard Scottie Wilbekin is suspended indefinitely for violating team rules writes Kevin Brockway of the Gainesville Sun.
--Another ICYMI: Gators quarterback Jeff Driskel was surprised to be picked by Boston in the MLB Draft. He was busy bagging a wild hog on a hunting trip writes Robbie Andreu of the Gainesville Sun.
--Former Gators running back/sprinter Jeff Demps to skip Tampa Bay's minicamp writes TampaBay.com.
--No surprise that former Gators soccer star Abby Wambach is up to her old tricks in National Women's Soccer League.
--A look at Jacksonville's defense and how former Gators safety Josh Evans might fit in by John Oehser of Jaguars.com.
--Emmitt Smith recently reflected on his life's journey during a stop in Montgomery, Ala. Click here to read column by Montgomery Advertiser columnist Duane Rankin.
Tim Tebow on the sidelines at the 2013 Sugar Bowl between Florida and Louisville.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Tim Tebow is back.
That's good news to Gators fans, of course, and most certainly ESPN and other major media outlets.
We'll soon find out if it's good for Tebow and the Patriots.
We know that it's been difficult on Twitter the past 15 minutes or so as those pesky "overcapacity" notices pop up occasionally when trying to send a new Tweet. About Tebow of course.
ESPN broke the news, so here is NFL reporter Ed Werder's initial report:
The Patriots are signing Tebow, who is expected to participate in the team's mandatory minicamp Tuesday, as a quarterback, according to sources.
The move reunites Tebow with Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who was theBroncos' head coach when Denver traded into the first round to draft the Heisman Trophy winner in 2010.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick often has spoken with admiration for Tebow's versatility, intelligence and character. Belichick covets what he has described as tough, smart, versatile football players.
Last month, Yahoo! Sports cited an "organizational source" as saying Belichick disliked Tebow as a player and there was "no chance" of him landing in New England. Belichick dismissed that notion last week, telling ESPNBoston.com that the report was completely untrue.
Ironically, Tebow's last NFL start came with the Broncos in a blowout playoff loss in Foxborough to Tom Brady and the Patriots following the 2011 season.
The Jets traded a pair of draft picks to Denver in the deal to acquire Tebow but failed to establish a consistent role in the offense for the versatile quarterback.
Friday June 7, 2013Crawford, Zunino, Belichick on Tebow, Miller, Muschamp's SEC experience, more tidbits
Updated: 2:36pm, June 7
Gators starter Jonathon Crawford (No. 23) went to the Tigers in the first round of Thursday's MLB Draft.
Florida right-hander Jonathon Crawford didn’t have to wait long Thursday night to hear his name called in the MLB First-Year Player Draft.
Detroit selected Crawford with the 20th overall pick in the draft. Crawford’s 95-mph fastball and above-average slider were too much for the Tigers to pass up.
“He has a power arm with a plus slider,” Tigers vice president of amateur scouting David Chadd said in a release. “We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to add him to our organization.”
A year ago the San Francisco Giants selected Mississippi State right-hander Chris Stratton with the 20th pick in the draft. He signed for a $1.85 million bonus.
Crawford was the only Gator selected on the draft’s first night. Houston took Stanford right-hander Mark Appel with the first overall pick. Crawford was the second SEC player off the board behind Mississippi State outfielder Hunter Renfroe, who was taken by the Padres 13th overall.
Crawford becomes the highest-drafted Florida pitcher since John Burke was taken sixth overall in the 1991 draft.
Here is more on Crawford plus some other links covering topics of interest to Florida fans:
--Tigers use draft to stock up on pitchers writes Lynn Henning of the Detroit News.
--Former Gators catcher Mike Zunino, who caught Crawford’s no-hitter in the 2012 NCAA Tournament, remains in Triple A as Mariners call up Brandon Bantz to the surprise of some writes the Seattle Times.
--Former Gators standout Mike Miller and his Miami Heat teammates lost Game 1 of the NBA Finals Thursday. Miller also got his face stepped on, prompting commentator Jeff Van Gundy to quip, “He’s a Gator. He’s tough.”
--Former UF All-American Matt Elam has made a good first impression on his veteran teammates with the Ravens writes Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun.
--A look at how the Gators are doing at the NCAA Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Ore. Click here for more details from GatorZone.com.
--In case you missed this, a good story from Hays Carlyon of the Florida Times-Union on the friendship UF basketball players Patric Young and Will Yeguete have developed with 3-year-old cancer patient Kaedyn Ballew.
--For the record, Patriots coach Bill Belichick does not hate Tim Tebow writes ESPNBoston.com.
--SEC experience key for Muschamp at UF writes Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com.
Left-hander Daniel Gibson is projected to go in the early rounds of the MLB Draft.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Not so long ago, the MLB First-Year Player Draft went by without many noticing other than the most diehard of seamheads.
Baseball America was and continues to be a great source of information on the draft, but much like the NFL Draft and NBA Draft, the MLB Draft is becoming more and more of an event.
A year ago the Gators were loaded with MLB prospects and it showed in the draft as eight Florida players went in the first 10 rounds of the draft, highlighted by first-round selections Mike Zunino (Seattle) and Brian Johnson (Boston).
This year Florida’s talent level dropped off and it showed during the Gators’ 29-30 season. Still, expect to see some Gators go in the draft, starting with right-hander Jonathon Crawford.
Crawford likely capped his UF career on Friday in the Gators’ 4-3 loss to Austin Peay in the Bloomington (Ind.) Regional. Crawford’s outing went much like his season – solid but not spectacular.
He received a no-decision after limiting the Governors to four hits and a run over 6 1/3 innings. Crawford struck out five and walked four. Free passes plagued Crawford (3-6, 3.84 ERA) his junior season. He walked 37 in 86 2/3 innings (3.84 walks per nine innings) after walking just 24 in 77 2/3 IP (2.78 per nine innings) during his 6-2, 3.13 ERA sophomore season.
But with a right arm that consistently hits 95 mph on the radar gun, Crawford should hear his name much earlier than in the 2010 draft when the Marlins selected Crawford with the 1,277th overall pick. My guess is about 1,250 picks earlier.
Here is look at the Gators eligible in this year’s draft:
Jonathon Crawford, RHP, Jr.
Draft history: 42nd-round pick of Marlins in 2010 out of Okeechobee HS
Baseball America rates Crawford the 24th overall prospect in the draft. The A’s have the 24th pick in this year’s draft but as much an inexact science as mock drafts are in football, they are even more flawed in baseball due to the draft featuring high school, junior college and four-year college players. Regardless of where Crawford goes, he can expect a hefty signing bonus and an opportunity to advance through the minors quickly if he pitches the way he did last summer for the USA College National Team (3-0, 2.10 ERA and a pair of wins over Cuba in Havana). Crawford maintains velocity deep into games and when he is in control of his fastball, he is tough to hit. This is me thinking out loud, but I could see Crawford developing into a late-inning reliever down the road. He usually starts strong but often has one inning that gets him into trouble.
Daniel Gibson, LHP, Jr.
Draft history: 26th-round pick of Brewers in 2010 out of Tampa Jesuit HS
Gibson moved into the bullpen role vacated by Paco Rodriguez, who is now with the Los Angeles Dodgers after becoming the first player in the 2012 draft to make the majors. A hard-throwing lefty, Gibson appeared in 32 games this season. He went 2-1 with a 4.42 ERA in 38 2/3 innings. Gibson allowed 36 hits, walked 20 and struck out 31. Gibson is much better against left-handed hitters, limiting lefties to a .191 average while right-handed hitters batted .311. In his final outing of the season for the Gators, Gibson struggled with his control and walked home two runs in Saturday’s 5-4 loss to Valparaiso a day after a sharp outing against Austin Peay. Most projections have Gibson, rated by Baseball America as the 100th top prospect in the draft, going somewhere in the third or fourth rounds. Few seem to think Gibson will last long because he has an above average fastball and slider and a relatively fresh arm. Gibson pitched only 73 1/3 innings in three seasons at Florida while waiting his turn behind Nick Maronde and Rodriguez the past two years.
Johnny Magliozzi, RHP, So.
Draft history: 35th-round pick of Rays in 2011 out of the Dexter (Mass.) School
Magliozzi checks in at No. 439 on the Baseball America 500. Magliozzi was a major reason the Gators qualified for the NCAA Tournament for the sixth consecutive season in 2013. He was an effective closer (12 saves) and late in the season when Coach Kevin O’Sullivan needed a reliable starter, Magliozzi stepped into the rotation and pitched well. He started the Gators’ final game on Saturday, a 5-4 loss to Valparaiso. Magliozzi finished the season with a team-low 2.67 ERA. In 67 1/3 innings, he allowed 53 hits, walked 16 and struck out 57. While only a sophomore, Magliozzi is 21, which makes him eligible for the draft. Any player who turns 21 within 45 days of the draft is eligible. Baseball America’s scouting report has Magliozzi with a fastball that can touch 95 but is usually in the 90-92 range, and he spots his changeup and curveball well.
Karsten Whitson, RHP, R-Jr.
Draft history: First-round pick of Padres in 2010 out of Chipley (Fla.) HS
Whitson turned down a multi-million dollar signing bonus three years ago to pitch for the Gators. He looked every bit a first-round pick his first season, going 8-1 with a 2.40 ERA in 19 starts as a freshman. As a sophomore, Whitson battled a sore arm to finish 4-0 with 3.51 ERA in only 33 1/3 innings. He missed his junior season after undergoing a shoulder procedure right before the season started. Whitson has a strong lower body and hits the upper 90s regularly on the radar gun when healthy. Despite sitting out a season, don’t be surprised if a team selects Whitson to see if they can sign him. He remains an intriguing prospect. If Whitson returns to UF, he will be a redshirt junior next season and the projected ace of O’Sullivan’s staff.
Keenan Kish, RHP, Jr.
Draft history: 34th-round pick of Yankees in 2010 out of Germantown (Pa.) Academy
Kish made three appearances – two starts – before missing the season with a hip injury. Baseball America ranked Kish the No. 68 college prospect in the draft prior to the season primarily due to his strong sophomore season. Kish made 13 appearances out of the bullpen in 2012, limiting opponents to 19 hits in 27 1/3 innings. He struck out 28. If Kish goes undrafted or is drafted and doesn’t sign, he projects as a potential weekend starter for Florida next season.
Other Gators draft eligible: 1B/OF Vickash Ramjit, SS Cody Dent, DH Zack Powers.
Wednesday June 5, 2013Gators football, Craddock, Jimmy V Classic, SEC men's hoops, plus more tidbits
Gators quarterback Jeff Driskel and offensive coordinator Brent Pease during spring practice.
The 2012-13 sports calendar is nearly complete for the Gators.
The UF men’s and women’s track teams are competing in Eugene, Ore., this week in the final NCAA competition of the season for Florida.
In case you missed it, click here to read a story I wrote earlier on Gators senior hurdler Ugonna Ndu, who seeks to close out her UF career in strong fashion this week.
While summer is here, there’s never a lack of links from around the Internet covering items of interest to Gator fans.
Here are some links for your afternoon perusal:
--If you like spreadsheets and bar graphs with your football, you’ll enjoy this in-depth analysis of the Gators’ 2012 football season and what that could mean moving forward by Bill Connelly of SBNation.com.
--The Gators check in at No. 18 in Phil Steele’s preseason poll writes Edgar Thompson of the Orlando Sentinel (blog also features which Gators Steele chose for his preseason teams).
--Gators basketball coach Billy Donovan discusses the recent change-of-heart from Devon Walker in this story from the Orlando Sentinel.
--The SEC is exploring a primary site for its men’s basketball tournament and Tampa, St. Louis and Atlanta are negotiating writes Jason Lieser of the Palm Beach Post.
--Three Florida teams rank nationally among top 10 percent academically writes Antonya English of the Tampa Bay Times.
--Gators triple jumper Omar Craddock caps a memorable UF career at the NCAA Finals writes Kevin Brockway of the Gainesville Sun.
--The Gators face Memphis in the Jimmy V Classic. Click here for more details from GatorZone.com.
--The Sporting News’ Vinnie Iyer writes that former Gators quarterback Tim Tebow’s post-football future could have much more impact than Tebow did on the field.
--Former Gators pitcher Brian Johnson is improving and his former UF teammate, pitcher Austin Maddox, is off the DL in the Red Sox organization writes SBNation.com.
Saturday June 1, 2013Notes from Bloomington: Crawford's outing, slippery slides, Gushue, plus more tidbits
Updated: 11:38am, June 1
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Gators right-hander Jonathon Crawford made perhaps the final start of his UF career Friday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
If so, Crawford capped his junior season with the kind of performance the Gators expected each time he took the mound as the team's ace in 2013. Crawford, who throws in the mid-to-high 90s consistently, is projected as a first- or second-round pick in next week's MLB Draft by most analysts.
Crawford was in line for his fourth win of the season until Austin Peay's Michael Davis hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the eighth off reliever Ryan Harris to lift the Governors to a 4-3 victory.
In his 15th start of the season, Crawford allowed four hits and one run over 6 1/3 innings. He struck out five and walked four, throwing a season-high 112 pitches (62 strikes). Crawford wasn't as sharp as Florida fans have seen during his career, but he was able to pitch out of trouble and prevent the four walks from coming back to cost him.
"Things were going quick for me,'' Crawford said. "So I just had to step back and take a deep breath and attack the hitter."
Gators coach Kevin O'Sullivan complimented Crawford for the way he pitched his way out of trouble. Crawford's biggest escape was in the fifth inning when Austin Peay had two runners on with two outs and Jordan Hankins at the plate. Hankins and Crawford were teammates over the summer for the Team USA college squad that traveled to Cuba and Holland.
Crawford struck out Hankins to end the threat and keep the game within reach with Austin Peay up 1-0. Florida's Justin Shafer gave the Gators a 3-1 lead in the sixth with a three-run homer.
Governors coach Gary McClure was glad to see Crawford exit the game when he did.
"He's very, very good,'' McClure said. "You can tell why he's going to be a first-rounder."
SLIP, SLIP, SLIDING AWAY
The Gators quickly discovered how slick the FieldTurf at Bart Kaufman Field is in wet conditions. They are likely to experience similar conditions today against Valparaiso with an 80 percent chance of rain here at the Bloomington Regional.
Twice in the first two innings the Gators over slid second base on steal attempts. Richie Martin slid past the bag in the first inning and was called safe as he clearly beat the throw but then came off the bag. In the second inning Harrison Bader did the same on a stolen-base attempt but was tagged out as he tried to get back to the base.
In the third inning Austin Peay's Brett Carlson over slid the base and was called out when he appeared to beat the initial throw.
O'Sullivan said the Gators will stay aggressive on the bases despite the tricky turf.
"We will continue to run,'' O'Sullivan said. "But it was a bit frustrating to be quite honest with you. That's out game. We have to continue to generate runs that way because we don't have a whole lot of power."
O'Sullivan's advice to his players: slide earlier to avoid over sliding the bag.
GETTING GUSHUE GOING
Gators sophomore catcher Taylor Gushue could use a hit like a man stranded in the desert could use a drink of water.
Gushue went 0-for-3 on Friday -- he drew a one-out walk in the sixth and scored on Shafer's home run -- and is now 0-for-19 in his last five games. Overall, Gushue is in a 1-for-26 slump over the last seven games.
Gushue's last hit was May 12 against Auburn. His average has dipped from .308 to .275 during the slump.
"We have been working awfully hard in practice tinkering with his swing a little bit,'' O'Sullivan said. "He's just going through a tough stretch right now but we haven't moved him out of our three-hole because we trust him and believe in him."
O'Sullivan said he plans to hit Gushue third today against Valparaiso.
The Gators are facing Valparaiso for the first time in school history. Florida is expected to start sophomore right-hander Johnny Magliozzi (4-2, 2.49 ERA, 12 saves) with the season on the line.
The Crusaders (31-27) are similar to the Gators in that they don't have a lot of power. Valpo has hit just eight home runs in 58 games. Valpo finished 13-11 in the Horizon League in the regular season but then won the conference tournament to earn an NCAA Tournament bid.
First baseman John Loeffler leads Valpo with 38 RBIs but has just eight extra-base hits.
For most of Friday night's game between Valparaiso and host Indiana it appeared the Gators would face the Hoosiers today in an elimination game.
Instead, the Hoosiers rallied for four runs in the bottom of the ninth to advance, winning their first NCAA Tournament game in 17 years and only second one in school history.
"That's why it's such a great game,'' Indiana coach Tracy Smith said. "Because you can never tell until that last out is over with."
With a 4-1 lead entering the bottom of the ninth, Crusaders closer Karch Kowalczyk came in. Kowalczyk had allowed just one run all season. After Indiana trimmed the lead to 4-3, Chad Clark stepped to the plate with a runner on.
Clark had not hit a home run all season and his costly error in the top of the inning allowed two Valpo runners to score.
What did he do? Clark hit a two-run walk-off homer to make "SportsCenter."
The Hoosiers face Austin Peay today in the winner's bracket.
Gators outfielder Justin Shafer connects for a three-run homer in Friday's 4-3 loss to Austin Peay.
QUOTE OF NOTE
"We still have some games left. We have a great pitching staff, so we believe that we can come back and win the next four games.'' -- Gators OF Shafer on the task ahead if Florida is to advance out of the Bloomington Regional
QUOTE OF NOTE II
"We haven't swung the bats great for quite some time now, so we have kind of gone into every game with [a mentality of] it being a low-scoring event." -- O'Sullivan on his team's offensive struggles
QUOTE OF NOTE III
"The kid's been really good for us all year long. I'm not going to second-guess his effort. It's baseball. That's just the way things happen. We made a mistake on one pitch and fell behind and they did what they are supposed to do, simple as that.'' -- O'Sullivan on Davis' home run off Harris, only the second home run Harris has surrendered all season in 36 appearances
Friday's loss snapped Florida's 12-game win streak in regional play. Florida had not lost a regional game since a 17-11 loss to Florida State in 2008 ... The Gators need a win today to avoid their first losing record since a 29-30 finish in 2007. UF is 29-29 entering today's game ... Former big-leaguer Scott Rolen, who donated money to build Indiana's home clubhouse, toured the facility between games Friday. The facility is named in his honor.
The short left-field wall at Bart Kaufman Field can be a trip for outfielders chasing deep fly balls.
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Gators got their first look at Bart Kaufman Field on Thursday afternoon.
The Hoosiers moved into their new ballpark after playing their first 17 games on the road. The 2,500-seat stadium features FieldTurf, including on the base paths and pitching mound.
The most unique feature is the left-field wall, which is only about 4-foot tall.
"You've got to take more into account the bounces off the turf and be more conscious of the wall and a ground-rule double,'' Gators left fielder Harrison Bader said. "If you are lucky enough to get to the wall and rob a home run, it plays a little bit differently."
Indiana officials said more than one player has tumbled over the wall since the ballpark opened this spring trying to rob a batter of a home run.
"A short wall definitely changes it up a little bit,'' Bader said of the approach chasing deep fly balls.
This is the first time in school history Indiana has hosted a regional. The Gators left impressed at what they saw Thursday. It will be only the second time they have played on artificial turf this season, the other time a three-game series at Vanderbilt.
"There’s really no bad hops, all hops are true,'' shortstop Cody Dent said. "So it’s nice."
HOOSIERS TARGETED GATORS
At the start of the season the Hoosiers listed 10 goals on a board inside their clubhouse.
They wanted to win the Big Ten, crack the Top 25 for the first time and make it to Omaha.
No 6 on the list: Win Florida Series.
The Hoosiers accomplished that goal in early March when they won two of three over the Gators in Gainesville.
It's been that kind of season for Indiana, which is trying to become the first Big Ten team to advance to a Super Regional in a decade and first to make the College World Series since Michigan in 1984.
Junior left-hander Joey DeNato said Thursday the Hoosiers want to continue checking items off the board.
"Going back to our 'Goals Board,' our final goal is to make it to the College World Series,'' DeNato said. "This weekend, we are playing to move on."
So are the Gators, who could erase some of the sting from that series' loss earlier this season by advancing out of the Bloomington Regional on the Hoosiers' home field.
Gators starter Jonathon Crawford will face a former teammate on Friday when Austin Peay's Jordan Hankins steps to the plate. Crawford and Hankins were teammates on the USA National Collegiate Team last summer that traveled to Cuba.
Hankins is hitting .351 with 11 home runs and 52 RBIs.
"He's a good hitter,'' Crawford said. "And a cool guy."
As Crawford watched his UF teammates take batting practice Thursday, Hankins stopped by for a quick hello as the Governors left the stadium.
A year after leading the country with 75 home runs, led by Mike Zunino's 19 and Preston Tucker's 16 round-trippers, the Gators hit only 27 homers this season. Austin Peay first baseman Craig Massoni (16), the Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year, and Hankins (11) matched that total by themselves.
The No. 2-seed Governors hit 51 overall, a stat that certainly caught Gators coach Kevin O'Sullivan's attention heading into Friday's first-round game.
"They are very offensive minded,'' O'Sullivan said. "They’ve got a left fielder that can run, their shortstop’s got some stolen bases. They’re two corner infielders have  home runs combined -- we have 27 as a team. The catcher has been in their program for three years, he looks like a leader on the field."
The home clubhouse at Kaufman Field is named after former big league third baseman Scott Rolen, who starred for the Phillies and Cardinals while making the National League All-Star Team seven times.
Rolen, an Indiana native and Bloomington resident, donated the money for the project.
Florida has won 12 consecutive regional games going back to the 2009 season and is 15-2 in its last 17 regional contests ... Austin Peay enters the tournament with a 15-game win streak, the longest in the country ... Austin Peay's No. 2 seed is the best for an Ohio Valley Conference program since the current tournament format was adopted in 1999 ... Austin Peay starter Zach Hall (8-2, 4.68 ERA) walks 4.03 hitters per nine innings and opponents are hitting .271 against him ... Mike Gaski is one of two NCAA officials on site here for the Bloomington Regional. If the name Gaski sounds familiar, Mike is the father of former Gators infielder Matt Gaski, a member of the 2005 Gators team that made it to Omaha. Matt Gaski is now a scout for the Miami Marlins ... Indiana, which won its first outright Big Ten title since 1932, is trying to become the first Big Ten school to win a national championship since Ohio State 47 years ago.
Thursday May 30, 2013Spurrier Returns to UF as Gov. Scott designates him a Great Floridian
Updated: 4:13pm, May 30
Former Gators coach Steve Spurrier with Florida Athletic Director Jeremy Foley and current UF head coach Will Muschamp.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Steve Spurrier last coached the Gators 12 years ago, the same number of seasons he spent as Florida's head coach from 1990-2001.
Still, the 1966 Heisman Trophy winner and current South Carolina coach's shadow will always loom over The Swamp. Spurrier led the Gators to their first national championship in 1996 while re-energizing a football program and fan base with his Fun N' Gun offense and famous quips.
Spurrier's place in Florida history -- the state, not the school -- added another distinction Thursday when Gov. Rick Scott designated Spurrier a "Great Floridian" during a ceremony at the F Club inside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
The “Great Floridian” honor is given in recognition of the outstanding achievements of men and women who have made significant contributions to the progress and welfare of Florida.
Former UF quarterback Tim Tebow last month joined the exclusive club, which prior to this year included only 66 honorees since the honor was established in 1981.
Spurrier fits right in. He was born in Miami Beach and grew up in Tennessee. When it was time for college, Spurrier moved back to the Sunshine State and became the first Gator to win the Heisman.
|Former Gators coach Steve Spurrier talks with Florida Gov. Rick Scott in The Swamp on Thursday afternoon.|
He remained the program's only Heisman winner for 30 years until quarterback Danny Wuerffel won the award during the Gators' national championship season in 1996 under Spurrier's tutelage.
While Spurrier now coaches at an SEC East rival, he maintains close ties to the UF community and along with Tebow and Wuerffel, has a bronze statue outside The Swamp in his honor.
Adding to Spurrier's legacy at UF, Spurrier coined the nickname of the Gators' home when he returned to his alma mater as head coach.
As for the process of being named a "Great Floridian," the Secretary of State selects no fewer than two “Great Floridians” from nominees made by a committee representing the Governor (1), each member of the Florida Cabinet (3), the President of the Senate (1), the Speaker of the House (1), and the Florida Secretary of State (1).
Wednesday May 29, 2013Photo blog from Bloomington -- Gators vs. Austin Peay on Friday
Updated: 8:00am, May 30
Newly constructed Bart Kaufman Field, site of this weekend's Bloomington Regional featuring the Gators.
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Gators baseball team arrived here late this afternoon in preparation for Friday's NCAA Tournament opener against Austin Peay.
The Gators will practice at Bart Kaufman Field, the new home of Indiana's baseball team, on Thursday along with the other three teams competing in the Bloomington Regional. As you can tell by the photo above, Kaufman Field is still a work in progress.
The field and inside of the stadium look great -- wet-paint signs were visible when I walked around the outside of the stadium Wednesday -- and as you can see the grounds outside remain under construction.
The ballpark was dedicated on April 26 when the Hoosiers played Michigan. The game even featured a visit by Indiana native and former Dodger pitcher -- Brooklyn and Los Angeles -- Carl Erskine, who played the national anthem on his harmonica as part of the festivities.
The host Hoosiers are the No. 1 seed, Austin Peay is No. 2, Florida the third seed and Valparaiso the fourth seed.
Check back with GatorZone.com all day Thursday for more coverage from Bloomington.
As for this evening, once the Gators arrived at their team hotel and got settled, they went out to a team dinner.
While the Gators have played in 28 regionals, they usually don't stroll too far from McKethan Stadium. This marks only the seventh time the Gators have left the Sunshine State for regional play and first since 2004 when they went to Oklahoma. Other than for trips to North Carolina in 1958, 1960 and 1962, the only other times Florida has played away from its home state in regional play is 1977 (Minnesota), Texas (2000) and the aforementioned trip to Oklahoma.
The team hotel is located a short walk to Indiana's campus, which I visited for the first time today. Here are a few photos:
The outfield at Kaufman Field. In case you can't tell, the playing surface is FieldTurf.
The outside of Memorial Stadium, Indiana's football stadium. It is located adjacent to Kaufman Field.
The view of Memorial Stadium from the steps of Assembly Hall, Indiana's famous basketball arena.
Inside Assembly Hall, where the Hoosiers' five national championship banners hang.
The Gators' bats and balls on the runway after the team arrived at a small airport in Bloomington.
The Hall of Fame portrait of perhaps the most famous athlete in Indiana U's history.
A look at the new addition to Memorial Stadium that overlooks the Hoosiers' practice fields.
That does it for my photo blog around IU's campus. Check back Thursday for coverage from Florida's press conference and a look at Austin Peay, the Gators' opponent on Friday.
As long as the Gators are here I'll be here, so check back all weekend for coverage.
The SEC will explore creating a primary site for the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The Gators softball team is already in Oklahoma City. The Florida baseball team is leaving for Bloomington, Ind., later this afternoon.
Both teams have the same goal: to keep playing.
The UF softball team faces Tennessee on Thursday in the Women's College World Series. The Gators are the No. 2 overall seed and swept through the Gainesville regional and super regional.
Meanwhile, the UF baseball team opens NCAA Tournament play on Friday as the No. 3 seed in the Bloomington Regional. The Gators face Austin Peay in the first round.
After three consecutive trips to the College World Series, the Gators are considered an underdog this year but are optimistic about their chances in a regional that features host Indiana, Austin Peay and Valparaiso.
Check out GatorZone.com all week for coverage from both sites. I'll be in Bloomington with the baseball team and colleague Chris Harry is in Oklahoma City to cover the softball team.
Meanwhile, a look at some fresh links covering topics of interest to Florida fans this morning:
--Gators first baseman Taylor Schwarz has a good eye at the plate and behind the lens of a camera writes ESPNW.com.
--Pat Dooley of the Gainesville Sun offers his five reasons the UF softball team is in the WCWS.
--The SEC spring meetings are in Destin this week and Robbie Andreu of the Gainesville Sun filed this notebook from the meetings Monday, including an item about the league exploring a primary site for men's basketball tournament.
--The SEC is likely sticking to a 6-1-1 format for football scheduling in 2014 and 2015 writes Jason Lieser of the Palm Beach Post.
--The UF men's golf team is back at the NCAA Championships this week despite a long list of injuries writes Brentley Romine of Golfweek.
--What to watch for on road to Omaha from Sports Illustrated previews NCAA baseball tournament.
The UF baseball team opens NCAA Tournament play on Friday against Austin Peay in Bloomington, Ind.
Hey folks, I was out of pocket late last week before returning Monday to check in with the Gators baseball team.
It turned out to be a good day to stop by McKethan Stadium as the Gators learned they made the NCAA Tournament. You can click here to read more about Florida’s sixth consecutive trip to the tournament under head coach Kevin O’Sullivan.
To check out the complete NCAA Tournament bracket, click this link. You can click here for a comprehensive breakdown from Kendall Rogers of PerfectGame.org on the NCAA Division I Baseball Selection Committee’s decisions.
There’s plenty more Gator-related sports news to keep you updated on this Monday afternoon. Here are more links for your perusal:
--ESPN.com’s Teddy Mitrosilis takes a look at all 16 regionals in the NCAA baseball tournament.
--Former Gators standout Udonis Haslem no longer a forgotten man in NBA Eastern Conference Finals writes Joe Goodman of The Miami Herald.
--Former Gators tight end Jordan Reed, the team’s leading receiver last season, has signed his rookie contract with the Washington Redskins writes The Washington Post.
--Former Gators coach Urban Meyer sat down for a Q&A with CBSSports.com’s Jeremy Fowler recently. Meyer talks about his exit from Florida in this Q&A.
--Matt Bonner is headed back to the NBA Finals writes Kevin Brockway of the Gainesville Sun.
--Erik Murphy is in Las Vegas preparing for the NBA Draft writes the Providence (R.I.) Journal. Murphy is also writing a blog about his experience leading up to the draft for OnlyGators.com.
--Gainesville Sun columnist Pat Dooley offers his thoughts on the UF softball team’s surprising run to the Women’s College World Series.
--The UF softball team is in Oklahoma City waiting for the start of the WCWS in what is expected to be an emotional week for the locals writes Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman.
--Browns and former Gators receiver David Nelson recently traveled to Haiti for a good cause writes Bryan Holt of InsidetheGators.com.
Monday May 27, 2013Gators baseball team to learn its postseason fate shortly
Updated: 11:11am, May 27
The Gators baseball team is seeking a sixth consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Florida baseball team will learn its postseason fate in a little less than an hour.
The 2013 NCAA Baseball Tournament Selection Show is at noon on ESPNU. You can watch via ESPN3.com here.
The Gators (29-28) are in unfamiliar terrain under sixth-year head coach Kevin O’Sullivan, who has led the Gators to the NCAA Tournament every year since taking over the program in 2008.
The Gators have made three consecutive trips to the College World Series but after losing 18 players from those teams to the professional ranks, the Gators entered a rebuilding mode in 2013.
The Gators started 11-16, won 14 of 17 games in the middle of the SEC schedule to move a season-high six games over .500 (25-19) on April 27, and then lost nine of their final 13 games to fall back on the bubble.
The regional hosts were announced Sunday, with LSU, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Mississippi State, Virginia Tech, Indiana, North Carolina, Virginia, Oregon State, Oregon, Cal State Fullerton, UCLA, Louisville, Kansas State, North Carolina State and Florida State opening the tournament at home.
Gators senior Lauren Embree and her teammates came up short against Stanford on Monday night.
GAINEVILLE, Fla. -- The Gators women’s tennis team fought valiantly against Stanford on Monday night in one of the more intense sporting events of the 2012-13 UF athletics calendar.
“It looked so grim for us there down 3-0 and then somehow we find a way,’’ Florida coach Roland Thornqvist said. “We gave ourselves a chance to win. That’s one thing about this team, they just never give up.”
The Gators won three consecutive singles matches after falling behind 3-0, including a 6-0, 6-1 loss by No. 1-ranked Lauren Embree against Stanford’s Nicole Gibbs.
After Florida’s Brianna Morgan, Caroline Hitimana and Olivia Janowicz won to tie the match 3-all, a berth in Tuesday’s national championship match rested on a third set between Florida’s Alexandra Cercone and Stanford’s Krista Hardebeck.
Hardebeck pulled out a 6-3 win in the third set as Cercone finally ran out of gas in the final three games.
The Gators, after back-to-back national titles, finish the season 26-3. While Embree, one of the most competitive players to ever come through the program, and Hitimana are seniors, Thornqvist has a talented team returning next season for one of the country’s top programs.
To read more about last night’s match, click here for a story from the San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News.
Meanwhile, here are some other links related to the Gators you might be interested in:
--Former Gators receiver Deonte Thompson is getting noticed in Baltimore writes ProFootballTalk.com.
--The NCAA Baseball Tournament is approaching and PerfectGame.org offers its latest projections with the Gators earning an at-large bid and opening in the Tallahassee Regional.
--ESPN.com takes a look at Gators sophomore running back Matt Jones, who takes over as the team’s top tailback.
--Former Gators receiver/assistant coach Aubrey Hill is the new head coach at Miami Carol City High, his alma mater. The school announced Hill’s hiring here on its football Facebook page.
--The UF women’s golf team hopes to take next step at NCAA Championships writes Richard Johnson of the Independent Florida Alligator.
Former Gators running back Mike Gillislee has signed with the Miami Dolphins.
Following a busy weekend, here are some fresh links from around the Internet to get you caught up on the Gators:
--The Gators claim the SEC All-Sports Trophy presented by the Halifax Media Group writes Pat Dooley of the Gainesville Sun.
--Former Gators running back Mike Gillislee signs a four-year, $2.322 million contract with the Dolphins writes the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
--ESPN.com’s Graham Hays writes about the Gators softball team’s impressive showing in the Gainesville Regional.
--The Gators will next play UAB, which knocked off traditional power UCLA in the Louisville Region on Sunday writes Drew Champlin of AL.com.
--The Gators women’s tennis team seeks a third consecutive national title, but to have that opportunity, the Gators must beat Stanford tonight at 6 in the Final Four. A look at the Cardinal from The Stanford Daily.
--For a look at the Gators in the Final Four for a fourth consecutive season, you can ready this story by Michelle Provenzano of the Independent Florida Alligator.
--Dan Thompson of GatorCountry.com offers some perspective on the role of a graduate assistant coach in college football.
--The Huntsville (Ala.) Times takes a look at 12 storylines to follow at the 2013 SEC Baseball Tournament in Hoover.
--A day after defeating the Gators in the regular-season finale for both teams, Georgia baseball coach Dave Perno was fired writes Chip Towers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
--Former Gators quarterback Tim Tebow shares stories of hope at a fundraiser in his hometown writes Justin Barney of the Florida Times-Union.
Wednesday May 15, 2013The Florida-Georgia rivalry, May speaking tour version
Updated: 7:27pm, May 15
The Gators and Bulldogs butt heads again Nov. 2 in Jacksonville.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – College football news is slow right now -- well, real news at least -- so look for more stories like the one that came out of Jacksonville on Wednesday night over the next three months from coast-to-coast.
If you missed an earlier blog I posted, Florida coach Will Muschamp spoke to the Jacksonville Gator Club. As you might expect, he was asked about the Florida-Georgia rivalry.
More specifically, what is he doing to make sure the rivalry turns back in favor of the Gators following back-to-back losses to the Bulldogs?
As coaches do at these types of events full of boosters, alumni and hardcore fans, Muschamp served up a crowd pleaser.
“Well, it’s not going to be a long winning streak, I can assure you of that,’’ Muschamp quipped. “We’re very comfortable [in that] … Very disappointed for our football team and the Gator Nation that we didn’t get the job done. Looking forward to the game this year.”
Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham happened to be in Atlanta on Thursday to speak at a similar event for Bulldogs fans called UGA Days.
Naturally, reporters asked Grantham about Muschamp’s comments.
Grantham, you might remember, drew the ire of Florida fans in 2010 when he gave the “choke” sign and yelled in the direction of Gators kicker Chas Henry as Henry lined up for a 37-yard field goal in overtime. Henry made the kick and Florida won, 34-31, its 18th win in 21 meetings between the two longtime SEC rivals.
Here is what Grantham had to say Thursday about Muschamp’s comments: “I mean, what do you expect him to say. Will’s a guy that I know personally and I think he’s done a good job at Florida. I think he’s very competitive, as we all are as coaches. He’s a guy that wants to win. I think he’s just trying to fire up the people in Jacksonville.
“The bottom line is, in this league, you win with individual performance and mental and physical toughness and you do it on the field. The fact is, the last two years we’ve won in Florida and we’ve won the SEC East. From that standpoint, that stuff has no effect on me.”
To read the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s story you can click this link.
So, there you have the latest squabble in the Gators-Bulldogs rivalry. Somewhere former Gators coach Steve Spurrier is probably smiling.
The Florida-Georgia game has always been my favorite one on the schedule. Like Muschamp, looking forward to Nov. 2 at Everbank Field.