Roundup: Florida gymnasts seek SEC title at Arkansas

Florida gymnastics coach Jenny Rowland. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

The goal is clear for No. 3 Florida on Friday night. A win at No. 20 Arkansas would give the Gators at least a share of the 2019 Southeastern Conference regular-season gymnastics title.

The meet is set for 8 p.m. ET, but it will not air on SEC Network or stream on SEC Network+.

UF (5-1) is one of three teams with a chance to win or share SEC title Friday: Auburn (5-1) is at Alabama 7:30 p.m. and Georgia (4-2) is at LSU for a 9 p.m. meet. A win by either 5-1 team along with a loss by the other 5-1 team would make winning team sole SEC regular-season champion. A win by both teams with 5-1 records equals co-champions and a loss by both 5-1 teams and a win by Georgia equals tri-champions.

Head-to-head competition does not come into play to determine a SEC regular-season champion. Seeding for SEC Championships is based March 16 national rankings.

This is the third year for the awarding of a regular-season SEC gymnastics title. From 1981-2016, the winner at the SEC Championships was considered the league champion. Florida has 10 SEC titles in its history. LSU claimed the first two SEC regular-season titles (2017 and 2018).

Baseball: Florida (6-4) hosts the Winthrop Eagles (3-3) in a three-game series at McKethan Stadium. First pitch is at 6:30 p.m. Friday and 4 p.m. on Saturday. The series finale begins at 1 p.m. on Sunday. The Gators are in the midst of a 14-game homestand. It’s the longest homestand for UF in 16 years, since Florida had a 19-game stretch at home in 2005. UF went 15-4 in those 19 games.

Softball: At Fullerton, Calif., No. 3 Florida outlasted New Mexico, 1-0, in extra innings and ousted No. 20 Oregon, 2-1, during the Judi Garman Classic at Anderson Family Field presented by USA Softball.

The Gators (20-1) won their first extra-inning game of the season when Jade Caraway roped a double to right center in the bottom of the eighth inning against the Lobos (5-10). Sophomore Natalie Lugo kept the New Mexico offense on its heels for seven innings as she tied her career-high with 13 strikeouts before she gave way to Kelly Barnhill (11-1) in the eighth inning.

With the game scoreless and the international tie-breaker rule in effect, Barnhill struck out the side to set up the UF offense for the win.

Against the Ducks (11-5), Caraway kept Oregon off the scoreboard early after she reeled in a deep fly ball that was headed over the center field wall back into play in second inning. OU eventually broke the scoreless tie in the fifth.

Barnhill struck out nine in the game over seven innings of work and limited the Ducks to just three hits en route to her second victory of the day.

Jaimie Hoover pushed across the go-ahead run on a looping single to right field that allowed pinch-runner Haven Sampson to score.

The Gators continue action at the Garman Classic with a rematch against No. 2 UCLA at 2:15 p.m. (ET) Friday and No. 5 Washington at 9 p.m. (ET). UCLA handed UF its first loss of the season late Wednesday, 7-1.

Women’s tennis: Florida (3-4) hosts a pair of matches this weekend at the Alfred A. Ring Tennis Complex to begin SEC play. The Gators first battle Ole Miss (3-3) at 5 p.m. Friday and then against Mississippi State (9-3) at 1 p.m. Sunday.

Admission to all regular-season home matches is free and parking restrictions will be lifted for the law school parking lot at 3:30 p.m. Friday. New this season, the concession stand will feature grilled items for all matches.

Florida holds a 46-3 mark against the Rebels all time, which includes a 20-0 record in matches played in Gainesville. The Gators are 39-0 against MSU and 18 of those victories have occurred in matches played in Gainesville.

Swimming and diving: Florida return to action this weekend as hosts for the last chance meet at the O’Connell Center Natatorium starting today. This meet will serve as the last opportunity for swimmers to qualify for the NCAA Championships.

On the men’s side, swimmers from Florida and William & Mary will be trying to clock NCAA cut times. UF will be joined by Florida Gulf Coast and Miami on the women’s side. Prelims begin at 10 a.m. each day. Finals will begin at 5 p.m. Friday and 4 p.m. Saturday.

Women’s basketball: Georgia beat Florida 69-57 at the O’Connell Center. The Gators fell to 6-22, 2-13 in the SEC, while Georgia is 18-10, 9-6. Zada Williams scored a team-high 21 points and senior Funda Nakkasoglu had 14 on Senior Night for UF.