Florida Gators Weekend Review: Gymnastics wins NCAA Gainesville Regional

USA TODAY Sports

Florida had a packed weekend. And gymnastics wowing a packed O'Dome on Saturday was the highlight.

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.

Gymnastics puts up 198.400 in Regional competition

I'm an amateur gymnastics fan, and I'll readily admit that. But Florida makes it really hard to be an amateur gymnastics fan, and proved it again on Saturday: These Gators are so good that it's nearly impossible to tell what they're doing right because they never do anything wrong, and so good that they make me wish desperately that I didn't have just a passing understanding of gymnastics.

Florida put up a 198.400 in an easy win of the 2013 NCAA Championships' Gainesville Regional, its fourth score of 198 or better this season; the total is also Florida's second-highest score in program history, and ties for 10th all-time in college gymnastics. (Florida now owns the best score without a 10 in college gymnastics history, and the second-best score without a 10 in gymnastics history.) The Gators did so despite senior Randy Stageberg suffering a career-ending injury last week, and the shocking death of the team's dentist, Thomas Weber, which also forced a scramble to get Mackenzie Caquatto emergency dental surgery on Friday. (Really, read this story.) And they did so with more balance than ever before, with scores of 49.550 or better on every apparatus.

Want more stats? Okay.

  • Only one team has scored better this year than Florida did on Saturday night: Florida.
  • And the Gators put up that number, a 198.425, a month ago, kicking off an incredible run that has seen them post the highest score in program history, the highest road score in program history, the highest SEC Championships score in program history (and the first 198 since 2001, and the second-highest score in SEC Championships), and the highest NCAA Championships score in program history (and second-highest NCAA Championships score ever), all sequentially.
  • Florida has averaged 198.175 over its last four meets.
  • Florida scored a full point better than every other team in NCAA Regional action last weekend did (Alabama put up a 197.400).
  • A Florida gymnast won or shared the top spot in each apparatus on Saturday
  • Florida had twice as many scores of 9.9 or better (16) than it did scores worse than 9.9 (eight), and counted just four scores that weren't of 9.9+ on the night.

Florida will be the top seed for the NCAA Championships in Los Angeles in two weeks. And, to put it simply, there's nothing in what Florida has done to this point in this season that suggests to me that Florida won't win the program's first NCAA title at that meet.

But I'm an amateur. And I wanna know much more than I do. So if you do know more, let me know.

Slams dot softball's series win

After a year spent with slap hitters up and down the lineup, Florida's softball team has swung some heavy lumber in 2013. And Florida hit three grand slams over the weekend in a series win over Mississippi State, one in each game, which was enough to relegate a no-hitter to the back-burner on the weekend.

The most dramatic base-clearer was on Saturday, and came off the bat of Jessica Damico while Florida trailed the Bulldogs 2-0 in the bottom of the sixth. After loading the bases before the first out, Damico came up with one down and parked a pitch just over the fence in left, to the delight of the crowd at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium. Hannah Rogers would come in to save the game in the seventh, the Gators got a 4-2 final, and Florida clinched its series win by going up 2-0.

Florida went up 1-0 on Friday, as Rogers pitched her first career no-hitter in a 9-1 win. No-hitters aren't that rare in softball, as Florida has 11 in the history of a program that dates back to 1997, and had only gone three years since its last one and four since its last by a single pitcher, and Rogers' no-no isn't even the only one with a run in program history (Renise Landry no-hit LSU in a 4-1 win in 2001), but it's still one heck of an accomplishment for Rogers, who's mostly come into her own as Florida's ace this year.

Stephanie Toftt hit Friday's grand slam, her first, and Damico's Saturday slam was her first, so Taylore Fuller's first career grand slam would have made for a neat narrative arc if it had led to a win on Sunday, but it wasn't enough to rescue Florida from a 5-0 hole left by Rogers' worst outing of 2013 (2.0 IP, seven hits, five earned runs), and Florida dropped the series finale, 6-5.

Florida will next play on Wednesday, hosting USF, which ousted the Gators from the 2012 NCAA Tournament in its last trip to Gainesville. These Gators might have some payback for the Bulls in that game, which tees off at 6 p.m.

Women's tennis sweeps twice

Florida's women's tennis team played its final home match of the 2013 regular season on Sunday, and possibly the final home match of the careers of seniors Lauren Embree and Caroline Hitimana. Like every other home match in their careers, it ended with a Gators victory.

Florida swept Mississippi 7-0 on Friday, then swept Mississippi State 4-0 on Sunday, putting an exclamation point on two great Florida home careers. Neither Embree nor Hitimana ever lost at home, as Florida went 53-0 in dual matches in Gainesville in their careers, and continued a winning streak that dates back to 2004 and stretched to 124 matches on Sunday.

Florida won the doubles point 2-0 in both matches, got straight sets victories from every player but Olivia Janowicz on Friday, and then got straight sets victories from Janowicz, Alexandra Cercone, and Danielle Collins on Sunday. The Gators haven't dropped a point since a 4-1 win over Alabama on March 22, and have dropped just six points in SEC play, four in a road loss to Texas A&M.

The Gators will finish their regular season on the road this weekend, taking on Kentucky and Vanderbilt on Friday and Sunday, respectively.

Lacrosse bounces back

Florida lacrosse's 19-9 win over Johns Hopkins on Saturday was decided fairly early: Florida built a 4-1 lead by the 18:51 mark of the first half, then scored again, 11 seconds later, to go up 5-1, and take a four-goal lead that would never be touched. That sort of speed kills in women's lacrosse, and the Gators have it to burn.

Florida scored within 30 seconds of a draw control four times on Saturday, flashing quick-strike capabilities that make the Gators dangerous at any moment, and literally scored in the time between me getting up to leave as Kitty Cullen pumped in a goal to make the score 7-2 in Florida's favor and me getting to the front gate of Donald R. Dizney Stadium.

Cullen paced Florida with five goals and two assists on the day, and Ashley Bruns added five goals and an assist of her own, while Gabi Wiegand scored four goals on just five shots. The day was also a fine one for freshman defender Sydney DuPre, who helped keep Johns Hopkins' Taylor D'Amore and Jen Cook goalless, and earned American Lacrosse Conference Rookie of the Week honors for the third time this season because of it.

Florida is now 14-1 overall and 2-1 in ALC play in 2013, and will travel to Vanderbilt on Saturday for their final road game of the 2013 regular season. With a win, Florida can position itself to once again win the ALC's regular season crown.

Men's tennis wins on road, falls at home

Florida's men's tennis team has had an erratic 2013. Beating top-10 Ole Miss in Oxford and then losing at home to Mississippi State this weekend is just the latest bit of topsy-turvy for Bryan Shelton's bunch.

Florida never trailed in its win over the Rebels, going up 3-0 before winning 4-1, but went down 1-0, up 3-1, and down by a 4-3 count against the Bulldogs, with No. 5 and No. 6 players Luke Johnson and Gordon Watson both losing deciding third sets in the final two matches of the afternoon.

Florida's 11-8 record now includes road wins over Tennessee, Alabama, and Ole Miss, and home losses to Baylor and Mississippi State. If you can make sense of this, please contact someone by email.

Florida closes its regular season with three home matches in this final weekend: Wednesday, the Gators take on Bethune-Cookman; Friday, they welcome Kentucky to Gainesville; and, on Sunday, Vanderbilt comes to town for Senior Day.

Baseball remains firmly in 2013

While most of Florida's teams were having mostly good weekends, baseball was having a Florida Baseball In 2013 weekend. Florida's beleaguered nine went to Mississippi State riding a three-game winning streak and a high of confidence after finding its bats and a prospective weekend rotation. In Starkville, all of this happened: The bats went missing for two games; Jay Carmichael, Florida's Friday starter of late, didn't pitch; Jonathon Crawford, recent Saturday starter, got shelled on Friday; Danny Young inherited Crawford's meager Saturday run support; and only a huge inning on Sunday salvaged a win.

Fun!

Crawford let up five runs (just two earned) in his five innings of work on Friday, and left with Florida trailing 5-1, which earned him his fifth loss of the year when the Gators fell, 7-3. Young was slightly better on Saturday, giving up two runs in four innings, but Florida's bullpen hurling four innings of one-hit ball didn't matter, because Mississippi State's Kendall Graveman silenced the Florida bats, throwing a shutout in State's 2-0 win.

Sunday was better, with Florida batting around in an eight-run fifth inning that more than doubled their run output in the other 26 innings on the weekend en route to an 8-3 victory and Johnny Magliozzi working 5.2 innings for his third win, but Florida winning Sunday games with one big inning is not the customary script for Kevin O'Sullivan's teams, and this season feels ever more lost and frustrating with each weekend.

Oh, and Florida gets to play at Florida State tonight. Whee.

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