This is perhaps the most perfect picture of a Miami baseball player. - Robert Mayer-US PRESSWIRE
The scuffling Florida baseball team hosts rival Miami this weekend, while the undefeated Gators lacrosse squad heads to Miami for a showdown with Syracuse.
Florida baseball looks for rebound against Miami
Florida baseball has owned Miami in the last few years. The Gators will have to hope that hex holds, because momentum sure isn't in their corner as the Hurricanes come to Gainesville this weekend.
Florida has taken its last 11 games from the 'Canes, and is 12-1 against Miami since 2010 and 15-6 against UM under Kevin O'Sullivan; Florida ended Miami's season in NCAA Tournament play in 2009, 2010, and 2011. But Friday starter Jonathon Crawford (4.00 ERA) hasn't won a game yet in two starts in 2013, Florida will turn to freshman Tucker Simpson (0-1, 4.15 ERA) on Saturday, and O'Sullivan hasn't yet named a Sunday starter.
Those pitching struggles are bad, because Miami is 8-0 and has allowed just 22 runs on the season. Add in Florida's popgun offense (the Gators are slugging .364 as a team), and Florida could be looking at another rough weekend series, one that might deepen the worst Florida baseball start in decades: The Gators haven't been worse than 3-5 since starting the 1948 season 3-8-1.
First pitch for Game 1 of the series should come shortly after 7 p.m. Friday night, while Game 2 is at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Game 3 will be a Sunday matinee at 1:30 p.m. You'll be able to catch the first two games on Sun Sports.
Lacrosse set for Saturday showdown with Syracuse
Florida lacrosse's finest season ever ended in the 2012 Final Four against Syracuse, as the Orange downed the Gators in overtime to reach the NCAA Tournament final. This Saturday, the Gators get a shot at revenge in the Sunshine State.
Florida and Syracuse have never met in the regular season before, but the 5 p.m. Saturday clash with the Orange at Sun Life Stadium in the Orange Bowl Classic is a rarity both for its prominence and for Florida's history: The Gators are off to their best start at 6-0, and would stand a decent chance of rising to No. 1 in multiple polls by knocking off 'Cuse, which would give them two wins over top-five teams away from Gainesville after previously topping North Carolina in the Tar Heel State.
It would certainly behoove the Gators to get Kitty Cullen going on Saturday, as she was held without a goal in Florida's 14-13 loss to Syracuse last season.
Gymnastics holding Senior Night
The Florida gymnastics team has already put up the nation's highest score, established freshman Bridget Sloan as maybe the sport's best newcomer, and swept its SEC regular season schedule. Finishing its home slate with a Senior Night victory over Minnesota would be a sweet sendoff for Ashanée Dickerson, Marissa King, Dali Lemezan and Randy Stageberg.
The Friday night match (7 p.m. in the O'Connell Center) likely won't be those tumblers' last pass in front of a Gainesville crowd, not with NCAA Regionals taking place in the O'Connell Center in April, but it's a great chance for the Gators to get another win: Minnesota dropped both of its meets last weekend, to Iowa and Iowa State, and failed to top 196.000 in either performance.
Florida hasn't scored under 196.575 this season.
Softball looks to stay on roll
Florida softball began Friday at 16-1, and may well be 17-1 by the time you read this post. That's what generally happens when teams come to Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium to play the Gators: They lose.
Florida will play five games this weekend in the University of Florida Tournament, and has already begun one, taking on Drake as I type this. The Gators will also see Mount St. Mary's, FAMU, Presbyterian, and Drake again before the weekend's up.
Oh, and Florida hasn't lost in a regular season tournament held in Gainesville since 2007. Good luck, everyone else.
Tennis teams begin SEC play
Florida's women's tennis team, fresh off its massive win over Stanford, takes to the road this weekend, with matches at SEC newcomers Missouri on Friday and Texas A&M on Sunday. Florida is significantly better than Missouri, which will welcome the Gators indoors, but may be challenged by the top-10 Aggies.
Men's tennis also kicks off its SEC schedule this weekend, welcoming Texas A&M to Gainesville on Sunday. The Gators will be trying to reverse the momentum of a four-match losing streak, but A&M rests just outside the top 10 of the ITA rankings, while Florida fell out of the top 25 following its loss to Baylor last weekend.
Women's basketball closes regular season on road
After giving Jennifer George a victory on Senior Night with a furious rally at home, Florida's women's basketball team will try to keep its shot at making consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances alive.
ESPN's Charlie Creme still has Florida among the Next Four Out section in his most recent bracketology, but the Gators' win over Arkansas, listed in the First Four Out section, might help get Florida closer to dancing, and a win over South Carolina on Sunday in Columbia would give Florida three straight wins entering the SEC Tournament.
Even with those wins and that momentum, the 17-12 Gators likely have too many losses to get into the NCAA Tournament without at least playing for the SEC Tournament title. But if Florida can prove its toughness on the road against the Gamecocks, who managed to pull down an absurd 26 offensive rebounds in a 52-44 win over the Gators in Gainesville, that at least shows that hope is still alive.