UF Roundup: Florida tops LSU in SEC Tournament quarterfinals

FILE — Gator's Anna Danilina hits a forehand return. [Cyndi Chambers/Corresponde­nt]

Special to The Sun

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Florida defeated LSU, 4-2, in the SEC Women’s Tennis Tournament quarterfinals. The No. 2-seeded Gators earned the win indoors at the Goodfriend Tennis Center due to temperatures in the 40s this morning in Knoxville.

The doubles point came down to Court 2, where McCartney Kessler-Josie Kuhlman claimed the clincher, 6-4, after Court 3 went to Florida and Court 1 to LSU.

In singles action, Katie Kubicz sped to a Court 6 win while dropping just two games. Kessler gave the Gators a 3-0 lead before LSU claimed wins on Court 4 and Court 1 to close the gap to 3-2.

Moments later, Peggy Porter provided the clinching point, wrapping up a 6-2, 6-2 win against Luba Vasilyuk at the fifth singles position.

The Gators (17-7) won their quarterfinal match for the 30th time in 31 SEC Tournaments. Florida improved to 46-1 all-time vs. LSU (15-10), including 7-0 in the SEC Tournament.

The Gators get right back on the courts at 10 a.m. Saturday for the semifinals. Florida faces No. 11 seed Arkansas.

Earlier Friday, UF’s Josie Kuhlman was named the SEC women’s tennis Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Kuhlman will graduate with a perfect 4.0 grade point average in May with a Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations.

Women’s golf: At Birmingham, Ala., Florida has advanced to the quarterfinal round of match play after shooting its lowest round of the week at the SEC Tournament. The Gators shot a third round 289 (+9) and tied for fifth place with Auburn. After the tie breaker, Florida was awarded the sixth seed and will play Arkansas in the quarterfinals.

Coaches from both teams selected the match-ups in a snake draft format. Florida had first pick and selected Elin Esborn after Arkansas deferred its right to put a player out first.

Individually, Marta Perez finished tied for fourth on the leaderboard carding a 216 (E) through 54 holes. This marks the third consecutive year a Gator has placed inside of the top five (Maria Torres, 1, 2016, Kelly Grassel, 3, 2017 & Torres, 4, 2017).

After carding an opening round 75, Perez went sub-par on both Thursday and Friday to bring her score back to even. Perez sunk three birdies on the front nine to lift here to a 71 (-1) in round three.

Sierra Brooks was the other Gator to finish inside of the top 25. Brooks tied for 24th with Vanderbilt’s Abbey Carlson at 9-over par for the tournament.

With her round of 3-over par, Elin Esborn moved up six spot on the leaderboard to tied for 31st with seven other players.

South Carolina had the lead at +3 (867) and Alabama was second at +8 (872).

Softball: At Starkville, Miss., No. 5 Florida defeated No. 19 Mississippi State 8-3 to open the series at Nusz Park. Amanda Lorenz went 4-for-4 at the plate and was a double shy of the cycle as she recorded a pair of singles, a triple and a home run in the effort.

A pair of home run in the first put the Gators (39-7, 13-3) ahead 3-0 over the Bulldogs (33-13, 6-10 SEC). Lorenz belted a solo home run after she turned on Candace Denis’ 2-1 pitch. Aleshia Ocasio followed up with a two-run blast after Kayli Kvistad reached with her 36th walk of the year.

Mississippi State broke onto the scoreboard in the bottom of the second inning and closed the Florida lead down to 3-1 with a solo home run by Kat Moore.

Florida struck for a pair of runs in the third to extend the lead out to 5-1. With two out and Lorenz at third and Nicole DeWitt at second, Janell Wheaton sends a grounder to Reggie Harrison at short but the throw to first was dropped by Sarai Niu, which allowed Wheaton to reach and Lorenz to score.

Jordan Matthews capped the scoring with her RBI single to right field that scored DeWitt from third.

Kelly Barnhill (20-1) struck out 10 to pick up the win.

The series has been adjusted due to the anticipated unfavorable weather conditions for Sunday. The teams will play two Saturday, starting at 2 p.m. ET.