UF ATHLETICS NOTEBOOK
Notebook: No. 1 UF softball set for Citrus Classic in Orlando
Published: Monday, February 24, 2014 at 5:25 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, February 24, 2014 at 5:25 p.m.
So far, only Mother Nature has been able to prevent the top-ranked Florida softball team from winning a game.
The Gators (16-0) went 5-0 last week playing at home for the first time this season and might have picked up a couple more Ws Sunday had heavy area rains not washed out their last two games at this year's Lipton Invitational.
“It was good to get home for a short period of time,” coach Tim Walton said. “I'm very happy with the way our team is playing and where we're at right now as a whole.”
Up next for UF is the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic in Orlando this weekend where the Gators will play five games between Friday and Sunday, beginning with a clash with No. 8 Oregon Friday at 3:30 p.m. that will be televised live on ESPN.
“This week is going to be a good test for us,” Walton said. “From here on out, everything gets tougher.”
TRACK & FIELD
The No. 2-ranked UF men and women will both be looking to add conference titles to their respective lists at the 2014 SEC Indoor Championships being held at the new Gilliam Indoor Track and Field Center in College Station, Tex., Thursday through Saturday.
The UF men have won six SEC Indoor titles while the women have won seven.
The men's competition will feature the top three teams in the country in No. 1 Arkansas, UF and host and No. 3 Texas A&M, while the women's will feature three of the top four in UF, No. 3 Texas A&M and No. 4 Arkansas.
“It's a very exciting time,” coach Mike Holloway said. “We've had very good preparation for the championship season on both the men's and women's sides, and we expect great performances on both sides heading into the weekend.”
SWIMMING & DIVING
The No. 1-ranked UF men captured their second straight SEC title last week while the No. 8 UF women notched a third-place finish at the 2014 SEC Championships in Athens, Ga.
The men claimed nine event titles and the women won three, with seniors Sebastian Rousseau and Elizabeth Beisel taking home the SEC Commissioner's Trophy as the highest-scoring male and female athletes, respectively.
“It was a tremendous competition,” coach Gregg Troy said. “The SEC swimming meet is probably one the best there is, just because you've got men and women together, the stands are always filled, and everybody is competing for every point. It was great to be a part of that situation.”
After suffering a 7-0 defeat at the hands of defending NCAA champion Stanford on the road Sunday, coach Roland Thornqvist will be looking to see how his fifth-ranked Gators respond when they host No. 10 Texas A&M and Missouri this weekend at the Varsity Courts to open SEC dual-match play.
“I think this team has to learn how to hold true to really what they themselves put together as a blueprint to what kind of team we want to be,” he said.
UF (8-2), which has won 128 consecutive home matches, faces the 2013 NCAA runner-up Aggies Friday at 5 p.m., then squares off against Missouri Sunday at 1 p.m.
Friday's match will be streamed live on ESPN3 as part of the USTA's College MatchDay series.
It will be a battle of the two teams that have won the last three NCAA Championships when No. 3 UF (7-0, 5-0), the 2013 winner, takes to the road to face No. 4 Alabama (7-3, 5-1), the 2011-12 champion, Friday night at 8:30 p.m. in what is expected to be a packed Coleman Coliseum.
Since 2003, the home team has won every meet.
“What I would like to see when we compete against Alabama, knowing that this competition will be probably be the most challenging environment that we've competed in this year, I would like to see our athletes go out and compete aggressively, just go out there and leave nothing on the table and putting together a really great performance on the road.”
After winning four straight matches in front of the home crowd, No. 7 Florida (4-1) faces back-to-back ranked opponents on the road, beginning with No. 12 Stony Brook (2-1) Saturday at 1 p.m.
“Those wins are big momentum for us,” coach Amanda O'Leary said. “They're great learning opportunities. Each and every game we play, we get better, and we also find things to work on in every game.”
Following the match with Stony Brook, the Gators travel to face No. 6 Loyola (2-0) next Tuesday, a game that also will start at 1 p.m.
With just two games left in the regular season, a pair of SEC teams looking to turn around losing streaks and fighting for SEC Tournament seeding will meet in Nashville, Tenn., when the Gators (17-8, 7-7), who have dropped three straight games, take on Vanderbilt (18-9, 7-7), a team that has lost four its last five, Thursday at 8 p.m.
After that, UF closes out the regular season at home against No. 17 Texas A&M (21-7, 11-3) Sunday at 1 p.m.
“We call it crunch time,” assistant coach David Lowery said. “Our kids have got a lot of pressure on them.”