Florida Gators Weekend Review: Baseball takes first SEC series, women's hoops makes NIT Final Four

Bruce Thorson-US PRESSWIRE

Florida baseball got its first series win this weekend, and a Florida basketball team made the Final Four. Sort of.

The Weekend Review runs down Florida's sporting successes and failures in the non-football, non-men's basketball, non-track sports on crowded fall and spring weekends. If you have a club sport or other note to include in the Weekend Review, hit @AlligatorArmy.

Baseball flips script for first SEC win

After two weeks of winning Friday's series opener and dropping their first two SEC series, Florida's baseball team flipped the script on this weekend, dropping their Friday opener against Ole Miss and rebounding to win the series.

Maybe they should keep this script?

Florida battled gamely on Friday, falling behind 2-0 and 3-2, rallying twice to send the game into extra innings, and finally succumbing in the 11th in a 4-3 loss. Freshman Jay Carmichael allowed three earned runs in 4.1 innings in the worst of his three starts so far, but Daniel Gibson pitched four scoreless innings in relief, allowing just two hits, and Johnny Magliozzi, who took the loss, allowed just one hit and one run in his 2.2 innings.

Saturday and Sunday were far better: Jonathon Crawford pitched a complete game two-hit shutout on Saturday, his first complete game and shutout since throwing a no-hitter in the 2012 postseason, and Florida gave him ample run support in a 7-0 victory, with Vickash Ramjit going 3-for-4 and Connor Mitchell and Mike Fahrmann each driving in two runs; Sunday brought the Gators' second consecutive shutout, as freshman Danny Young allowed one hit in 5.1 scoreless innings and Magliozzi got a well-earned save with 3.2 innings of fireman duty in a 4-0 victory. Ramjit added to his fine weekend with a two-run homer in the third inning.

Florida still sits at 13-16 for the year following the series victory over the nationally ranked Rebels, and at just 4-5 in SEC play. But with UCF coming to Gainesville for this week's midweek game and the Mississippi State team Florida will see next weekend in Starkville scuffling in SEC play at 3-6, there's a chance the Gators are over .500 for the season and SEC play in short order.

Women's basketball continues improbable NIT run

I watched a lot of college basketball in the last week, but the two best games I saw on Saturday and Sunday were both women's games. Sunday's Baylor-Louisville clash was a classic upset, and between two very good teams, but the duel that Florida won over James Madison on Saturday was a great game in its own right.

Florida prevailed, 85-80, to move on to the Women's NIT's Final Four, and earn a date at Drexel on Wednesday. But the Gators needed a fantastic effort to do that in a game that neither team led by more than seven points: The Gators and Dukes traded the lead eight times in the final 7:26 of play, and six times in one 2:20 stretch before Florida took the lead for good on a January Miller shot in the lane with 53 seconds that put the Gators up 81-80.

Sydney Moss was a monster for the Gators on the day, putting up 27 points, snagging eight rebounds, and dishing four assists, but she got help from Jaterra Bonds (20 points, five assists), Christin Mercer (11 points, six rebounds), and Carlie Needles (two threes in the game's final five minutes). And the Gators stepped up when Jennifer George (five points, four rebounds) fouled out, a great sign for a team that has no seniors but George.

Florida's Wednesday game with Drexel will be broadcast live on the radio, and we'll have coverage of it here.

Lacrosse takes first loss

Florida's lacrosse team went to Penn State on Saturday with a blemish-free record and a winning streak in regular season American Lacrosse Conference matchups that dated to 2010, but they returned to Gainesville without either. Penn State roared back from a 9-6 halftime deficit for a 16-11 victory (PDF) over the Gators on Saturday.

Florida built that lead with two goals each from Shannon Gilroy and Gabi Wiegand, but Wiegand's third of the day with 23:24 remaining in the second half was Florida's only goal for nearly 18 minutes, as Penn State went on a 6-0 run that turned a 10-7 deficit into a 13-10 lead. Kitty Cullen cut the lead to 13-11 with just over five minutes left, but Penn State took advantage of Florida playing with an empty net and being issued three yellow cards in the last 4:32 to preserve its victory.

The loss is relatively inconsequential for the Gators in terms of their national standing, as Penn State's a good team, but the second half comeback has to be a little troubling, and Florida now has an uphill road to a third straight ALC regular season title, with the Nittany Lions holding a 2-0 record and a win over the Gators.

Florida, however, gets Northwestern and Johns Hopkins at home (the Blue Jays come to Florida on Saturday), while Penn State will see them in Evanston and Baltimore. So that ALC title isn't completely out of the picture just yet.

Softball romps in Oxford

Florida softball ran its record to 35-3 and 10-2 in the SEC with a weekend sweep of Ole Miss in Oxford, and was only truly challenged in the second game of a Sunday doubleheader.

Florida's 4-1 win on Friday night was 3-0 in the Gators' favor after the second inning; it was 7-0 after two in the 8-0 win that began the Easter twinbill. But after building an 8-0 lead in the top of the fifth in the second game, starter Alyssa Bache fell apart, allowing six runs and getting no outs in the bottom of the fifth before being replaced by Hannah Rogers, who allowed one run in three innings of relief, preserving an 8-7 win and earning her second save of the year after going the distance in Florida's two wins.

Rogers is nursing a tiny 1.12 ERA and picked up her 20th win of the season in the Sunday opener, and has allowed just 102 hits in 149.1 innings pitched in 2013.

Women's tennis sweeps road, men's tennis splits at home scores rare road win

Once again, Florida's women's tennis team is poised to win the SEC. Good road work will help in that regard.

Florida swept LSU 4-0 in Baton Rouge on Friday, then swept Arkansas 7-0 in Fayetteville on Sunday, and moved back into a tie for first place after the Texas A&M squad that bested the Gators in College Station fell to Georgia. The Gators didn't drop a single set all weekend, and won 25 of them, including four love sets against Arkansas, two each by Brianna Morgan and Danielle Collins.

With no team on the rest of the Gators' SEC schedule ranked among the top 20 of the ITA team rankings as of last week, the Gators' path to at least a share of the SEC title is paved.

Florida's men, on the other hand, are all but out of the conference title race. Those Gators fell 4-2 to LSU on Friday at home, then swept Arkansas 4-0 on Sunday, but sit at 4-4 in SEC play, good for last in the rugged Eastern division, where every other team has at least a .667 winning percentage on the season. (Florida's 10-8 record is good for .556.)

Women's golf rallies for fifth

Florida's women's golf team could have been headed to an embarrassing end to its regular season after a bad first day at the Bryan National Collegiate, but strong Saturday and Sunday performances earned the Gators a fifth-place finish.

Florida shot a brutal 16-over on Friday, and was 23 shots back of leader and eventual winner Virginia, but four-over and three-over rounds on Saturday and Sunday, the second- and third-best in the 17-team field on each day, narrowed that gap to 18 shots, and helped the Gators leap from 12th to sixth to fifth.

Ursa Orehek was Florida's lone top-20 finisher, tying for 17th at five-over for the weekend, while Isabelle Lendl and Elcin Ulu tied for 32nd at eight-over and Mia Piccio and Camilla Hedberg tied for 40th at nine-over. Orehek and Lendl carded one-under rounds on Sunday and Saturday, respectively, and Lendl was an impressive one-under on the weekend after (mis)firing an 81, her worst round of the 2012-13 season by five strokes, on Friday.

Florida's regular season is now over, and the Gators will next play at the SEC Championship, which begins on Sunday, April 19, in Birmingham.

Men's swimming picks up two NCAA titles, finishes sixth

Florida's men's swimming program was the class of the SEC in the 2013 season, but the SEC doesn't rule the pool. Florida finished sixth at the NCAA Championships over the weekend, picking up an NCAA title in the process, but never really challenged the top teams in the country.

Florida's 800 free relay team of Pawel Werner, Sebastien Rousseau, Marcin Cieslak, and Dan Wallace won the NCAA title in that event, setting a new school record with a 6:13:27 time, and Florida swimmers earned 41 combined All-America honors, their largest total, with Cieslak taking seven, including six first-team honors.

Florida's sixth-place finish is its 12th consecutive top 10 in the sport, but the Gators had a realistic chance to finish fourth if the 200 medley relay team had been able to repeat its SEC title performance. Florida qualified 16th for the event and finished 13th, though, while its SEC-winning time would have been good for seventh at this meet.

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