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Friday April 22, 2011The Weekend Look Ahead: SEC Titles On The Line In Tennis While Softball and Baseball Host Key Series

An SEC champion will be crowned in Gainesville in men’s tennis for the first time since 1999 as the SEC Tournament takes place at Linder Stadium, while baseball and softball have key home series with Alabama and women’s tennis guns for another SEC crown in Knoxville in the Weekend Look Ahead.

Tennis

The SEC Men’s Tennis Tournament comes to Gainesville for the first time in a dozen years, as the Gators look to take their first crown since 2005. Admission to the tournament is free.

The Gators opened with a 4-0 win over Arkansas on Thursday and host Mississippi State at 3 p.m. on Friday afternoon.

Earlier in the week GatorZone.com senior writer Scott Carter took a look at how head coach Andy Jackson is building the foundation of his program around in-state talent.

Meanwhile the top-ranked women’s tennis team opens its quest for the SEC tournament crown on Friday afternoon in Knoxville against South Carolina at noon. The Gators enter with a 22-1 mark and finished as SEC regular season champions with a perfect 11-0 mark. The Gators are 35-2 all-time against South Carolina and have not lost to them since 1982 in the NCAA Tournament (when South Carolina was still in the ACC).

The Gators have won 16 of 23 SEC Tournaments including last year’s.

Softball

The No. 8/9 softball team has one of its biggest series of the season, as the No. 3/4 Alabama Crimson Tide rolls into town. Friday night’s game will be available on GatorVision, while Saturday’s 4 p.m. tilt will be on ESPN2 and Sunday’s 1 p.m. finale will be on ESPN.

The Gators enter with a 38-7 record and 13-6 in SEC play, while Alabama is 41-5 and 15-4 in league play. Florida is currently third in the East trailing Tennessee and Georgia, while Alabama has a sizable lead in the West.

Admission to all three games is free.

Baseball

After an eight-game road trip, the Gators finally return home and begin seven straight at McKethan Stadium with SEC West-leading Alabama coming to town on Friday night.

In a meeting of right-handers to start the weekend, sophomore Hudson Randall (6-1, 1.70) will face senior Nathan Kilcrease (5-2, 2.62). Over 58.1 innings this season, Randall has registered 32 strikeouts and permitted just two walks. He is 4-1 with a 2.16 ERA in five league starts, most recently defeating Georgia last Friday night (6.1 IP, 6 H, 3 R). Randall claimed the opener versus the Crimson Tide last season by firing seven shutout innings.

Saturday’s game two will showcase a pair of lefties, sophomore Brian Johnson (5-1, 2.42) and junior Adam Morgan (4-3, 4.12). Johnson has 43 K and eight walks in 52 innings and has limited opponents to a .215 batting average. He limited UGA to one run on six hits over six frames last Saturday but was not involved in the decision and is 1-1 with a 3.54 in SEC play.

Freshman Karsten Whitson (4-0, 2.38) will oppose an Alabama pitcher to be determined to conclude the series on Easter. Whitson leads the Gators with 45 strikeouts in 45.1 innings and gave up six hits and three runs over five innings last Sunday in Athens but not receive a decision. The righty is 1-0 with a 2.52 ERA in conference activity.

Friday and Sunday’s games will be on GatorVision while Saturday’s game will be on ESPN2. Tickets are available for all three games. Promotions for the weekend include an Easter egg hunt prior to Saturday night’s game on the Sanders Practice Field at 5:15 p.m.

 

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