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Florida Gators Weekend Preview: Top teams flock to Gainesville for loaded weekend

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There will be a lot of great athletes on the Florida campus.

@GatorsSB

Once again: Hopefully, from here on in, the Weekend Preview will run on Friday afternoons, leading into a Weekend Open Thread that coincides with the beginning of the first Florida contest of the weekend.

Hopefully.

Baseball hosts No. 1 Texas A&M

Friday, 7 p.m. (SEC Network+ | WatchESPN)
Saturday, 7:30 p.m. (ESPNU | WatchESPN)
Sunday, 2 p.m. (ESPNU | WatchESPN)

The Florida Gators (24-3, 4-2) are on the hunt to earn their top rank back, and what better way to continue the chase than to take on the current top-ranked Texas A&M Aggies (22-3, 4-2) at home in the Mac? After dropping the series against Kentucky, the Gators bounced back nicely with a 3-2 win that clinched the season series against Florida State this past Tuesday, and welcome the Aggies to McKethan Stadium for the first time since joining the SEC.

If Florida can produce as well with the bats as it is with pitching and defense, the Gators are sure to give the Aggies a run for their ranking. These games are expected to produce a pretty big crowd as well, so arriving early (for once!) might make some sense. —Ashley Kummer

Alabama rolls into town to face No. 1 softball

Friday, 6 p.m. (SEC Network+ | WatchESPN)
Saturday, 3:30 p.m. (ESPN2 | WatchESPN)
Sunday, 1 p.m. (SEC Network+ | WatchESPN)

The No. 6 Alabama Crimson Tide (29-6, 3-3) rolls into Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium this Friday to begin a weekend series against No. 1 Florida (33-1, 8-1). Coming off a series sweep against LSU this past weekend, in which the Gators shut out the Tigers for more than 20 innings, Florida is still rolling towards a possible three-peat. Not only will facing off against Alabama this weekend serve as a heated SEC matchup, it could give us a glimpse into the SEC league championship: In the past eight years, no team other than the Gators or Tide has taken the  conference crown.

Alabama is one of the best-traveling teams in college softball, and it's alumnae weekend, so all the greats of the past will be back to cheer on the current Gators. Stacey Nelson, Ali Gardiner, Hannah Rogers, and Lauren Haeger — just to name a few — are expected to be in attendance. You'll definitely want to get to games early this weekend if you even a chance at finding seats, as parking and traffic will be a bear near KSP. —Ashley

Gymnastics heads to NCAA Regional

Saturday, 5 p.m. (BTN2Go)

Florida may not be No. 1 in women's gymnastics, but the Gators appear to be hitting their stride — and their marks —at the exact right moment. Florida hasn't scored under 197.450 since prior to Valentine's Day, and popped its second- and third-highest scores of the season in its home finale against North Carolina and its narrow SEC Championships victory, with the latter doubling as its best score away from home all season.

And that score came with a Bridget Sloan fall on balance beam.

Florida is the nation's No. 2 seed, sort of, in the NCAA postseason, which got the Gators a fairly unthreatening field in Minneapolis, where no team other than the Gators ranks in the nation's top 10. No. 11 Denver and No. 16 Minnesota, which is hosting the event, have just four scores of 197.000 or more between them, and no other team at the regional has even one. The Gators are near-locks to advance from Minneapolis, and should be able to shoot for scores that will position them for the NCAA Championships later this month rather than worrying about fending off an upstart.

Florida has won its NCAA regionals in each of the last four years and 10 of the last 11. —Andy Hutchins

Women's golf looks for fourth straight win

Friday-Sunday, ongoing (Golfstat)

While Florida's men's golf team has faltered a bit of late, with momentum that seemed to be propelling the Gators toward national title contention stalling in recent outings, the Gators women have been red-hot, winning their last three tournaments and five of their last six.

The Gators rolled into the Clemson Invitational on Friday off an 11-stroke victory at the Briar's Creek Invitational in the Palmetto State in late March, and looked like the class of the field both coming in (the No. 8 Gators are one of just two top-20 teams in the field, and the only top-15 squad) and on Friday, when the Gators shot a 4-under 284 to enter the clubhouse as the only team under par. Houston has since joined them, and sits a shot back at 3-under.

Junior Karolina Vlckova's 3-under 69 gave her a share of the lead in the clubhouse at press time. —Andy

Lax welcomes Temple to Gainesville

Saturday, noon (FloridaGators.com)

No. 2 Florida rebounded from a disappointing loss to No. 1 Maryland a fortnight ago with a 16-2 thrashing of Vanderbilt in its Big East opener last weekend. Now, the Gators will look to stay perfect all-time against coach Amanda O'Leary's alma mater.

It shouldn't be to difficult if the Gators reprise their form from the win over Vandy, in which Florida took a season-high 37 shots and senior leader Nicole Graziano scored five goals. And, well, Florida's three wins over Temple have all come by at least 14 goals, so... —Andy

Florida Relays in full swing

Thursday-Saturday, ongoing (SEC Network+ | WatchESPN)

The Florida Relays, arguably the biggest track event of the early April start to outdoor season, are ongoing at the Percy Beard Track, with all manner of athletes from literal children to aspiring Olympians performing in the Gainesville heat this weekend. While a few highlights have already happened, maybe the coolest one is yet to come, with Olympic hopeful and reigning men's Bowerman winner Marquis Dendy returning to the track where he leapt into the record books time and again to compete. —Andy

Florida women's tennis to have early Senior Day

Saturday, noon (SEC Network+ | WatchESPN)

Thanks to a brutal backstretch to their season, the Gators women of the court will have their Senior Day almost three weeks before postseason play on Saturday against Texas A&M. It's likely to be a subdued ceremony, with Brianna Morgan being the only senior on Florida's roster, but she and her teammates won't be back home again before the NCAA Tournament, instead finishing out the regular season with four road matches over the next two weeks before the SEC Tournament. —Andy

The rest

Men's golf will look to right the ship at the Mason Rudolph Championship beginning Saturday. ... Florida's men's tennis team is off this weekend, and will play Virginia in a midweek clash on Wednesday.