O'Day makes unlikely run to Majors


Published: Tuesday, April 1, 2008 at 5:09 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, April 1, 2008 at 5:09 p.m.

Darren O'Day has beaten the odds again.

First, O'Day had to walk on at the University of Florida before he became one of the school's top closers of all-time.

Now, O'Day has gone from an undrafted free agent to a Major Leaguer in two years.

O'Day made his Major League debut Monday night for the Los Angeles Angels when he worked a scoreless inning of relief in the Angels' 3-2 loss to the Minnesota Twins.

It was all almost too much for O'Day to absorb prior to Monday's game.

"It's pretty wild," O'Day told the Los Angeles Times. "I've been walking around kind of lost, in a daze.

"I've had to turn off my phone the last couple of nights just to get some sleep. Everybody's real happy for me. It's been my dream to be here, but I'm only halfway up the hill. I want to stay here."

O'Day, who had never pitched above the AA level, made the Angels opening day roster because of his strong spring (3-0, 2.04 ERA) and due to several injuries on the Angles pitching staff.

O'Day finished his Florida career second all-time with 117 appearances and fourth all-time with 20 saves.

O'Day is one of eight former Gators who were on opening day rosters. The others were David Eckstein (Toronto Blue Jays), Mark Ellis (Oakland A's), Josh Fogg (Cincinnati Reds), Ryan Raburn (Detroit Tigers), David Ross (Cincinnati Reds, currently on 15-day disabled list), Ryan Shealy (Kansas City Royals' 40-man roster) and Brad Wilkerson (Seattle Mariners).

Brombacher giving softball second option in pitching circle

It's hard to look at Florida's softball record and not be amazed. The Gators are 40-2 ... and there are still 21 games remaining in the regular season.

One of the many reasons for Florida's success is junior All-American pitcher Stacey Nelson, who is 25-2 with a 0.85 ERA. Nelson has thrown 173 1/3 of Florida's 279 2/3 innings this season.

However, Florida's opponents are starting to have another reason to be fearful of the Gators. That's because the Gators are starting to grow confident in their No. 2 option in the pitching circle freshman Stephanie Brombacher.

Brombacher (13-0, 1.30) threw perhaps her best outing of the season Saturday when she hurled a five-hit shutout of No. 8 LSU in Florida's 2-0 win in the second game of a doubleheader.

Brombacher was so dominating, head coach Tim Walton was willing to pull Nelson at the first sign of trouble on Sunday.

"For the first time since I've been here, if Stacey Nelson didn't have her best stuff on Sunday I was ready to go with Stephanie," Walton said. "I think it's huge. I think it's also huge for Stacey Nelson to have somebody who can replace her. She doesn't feel like she has to shoulder the burden of all the innings."

The contrasting styles of the two pitches also makes Florida even tougher to face. Nelson is an overpowering pitcher who was struck out 212 batters. Brombacher, meanwhile, relies on the defense behind her. Brombacher has only struck out 75 batters in 91 2/3 innings.

"It will make preparation for us now more very, very difficult," Walton said, "especially now that she's won multiple SEC games and has proven herself.

Women's tennis sens seniors off in style

When Florida senior tennis players Lolita Frangulyan and Whitney Benik arrived at the Ring Tennis Complex for Sunday's game against LSU, a big surprise was waiting for them in the Gators' locker room.

Their teammates had decorated the locker room with signs, candy and other decorations to celebrate the final regular-season home match for these two seniors.

"They put candy all over the floor," Gators coach Roland Thornqvist said. "I'm not sure if that's terrific before a match, but ... "They also had cookies, signs. It was decorated very nicely. It was very nice to see. They've done a great job this year leading this team. It was nice to see our players send them off in a nice way."

Florida went on to defeat the Tigers, 6-1. The Gators will complete the regular season with three road matches and the SEC Tournament before likely hosting the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament beginning May 9.

Florida gymnastics not losing by much

When the Gators third-ranked gymnastics team loses, they don't lose by much.

Florida's three losses this season have come by a combined score of 0.15. The Gators lost to three-time defending NCAA champion Georgia by 0.025 on Jan. 18 in Gainesville (196.85-196.825), lost at then-No. 5 Alabama on Feb. 29 by a tenth

(197.225-197.125) and lost to Georgia by 0.025 at Saturday's SEC Championships.

The Gators will have this week off before hosting the NCAA southeast regionals April 12.

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