Saturday, March 22, 2014

UF Softball: #2 Florida vs #7 Alabama

In spite of all the March Madness today (that VCU loss was an absolute killer), I was able to get out to Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium to watch the #2 Gators take on #7 Alabama in SEC play. The Gators dropped Game 1 of this three game series to the Tide by a score of 4-2.

True freshman Delanie Gourley got the start for Florida tonight and had just one off inning as Alabama scored three runs in the top of the first inning. After a shaky first, Gourley settled down and allowed just one more run as she struck out seven hitters in five innings. However, she was still pegged with her first loss of the year as the Gator offense could not get anything clicking until the very last inning. Despite their seventh inning rally, the hole the Gators put themselves in to begin the game proved to be too much to overcome. Even if Florida hadn't gone down early, it just wasn't their night at the plate. They only managed two hits and could not bring runners home when the opportunities presented themselves until the seventh inning. I enjoyed this good SEC matchup even though it did not go the Gators' way. They need to remember that they are the defending SEC champions and will be getting everybody's best shot in conference play throughout the year. Games like this will get this squad battle tested for the even bigger ones that lie ahead in the SEC Tournament and Oklahoma City.

The #2 Gators (29-3) now fall to 4-3 in SEC play and will look to hand #7 Alabama (26-4, 7-0 SEC) its first conference loss in Game 2 of the series at 1 p.m. on Saturday.

*All stats accredited to

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

UF Baseball: Gators Upset #1 FSU

The glorious thing about the game of baseball is that any team can be beaten on any given day. Today was the Florida Gators' day as they stunned the #1 team in the country- who just happened to be arch rival Florida State- with a 3-1 victory at McKethan Stadium in front of 5,657 fans. I myself was jubilant to see the Gators add themselves as the third team to defeat FSU this season (the other two being Miami and Maryland) and snap FSU's six game winning streak.

Sophomore Danny Young got the start on the mound tonight and went three innings without giving up any runs.The highlight of Young's stint on the mound was when he pitched out of a bases loaded, no outs jam in the third inning to keep the game tied at zero. Young's start surprised me as I thought he was primarily a reliever. However, when I saw junior Bobby Poyner enter the game as a reliever in the seventh inning, it became obvious to me that he and Young had simply swapped roles. Sophomore Aaron Rhodes relieved Young to pitch the middle innings of the game. Picking up his second win of the year, Rhodes struck out four Seminoles and gave up just one run off an FSU homer in the sixth inning. Once Poyner came in with a 3-1 lead, it was lights out as he retired nine straight Seminoles to earn his first save of the year and give Florida a huge win. If using three pitchers for three innings was Head Coach Kevin O'Sullivan's strategy, it worked to perfection tonight.

The Gators jumped on the board first as junior Josh Tobias hit a lead off solo home run in the bottom of the third inning. This was Tobias's first home run of the year and might be a sign that his early season slump is over. After FSU countered with a solo home run of their own in the sixth inning, the Gators went back to work as sophomore Richie Martin hit a leadoff double. After Martin reached third on a sacrifice bunt, the stage was sent for sophomore Harrison Bader. Coming off of a 19 game suspension and playing in just his second game of the season, Bader smoked a triple to right center field to put the Gators back on top 2-1. Bader would score on Taylor Gushue's sacrifice fly to push the Gator lead to 3-1. After watching what Bader did tonight, I'm excited to have him back in the lineup and can see him doing big things for the Gators offensively going forward.

The Gators (14-7) will look to ride the momentum from this win into their SEC weekend series against #26 Texas A&M (14-7) in College Station. #1 FSU, suffering its first road and non-conference loss to the unranked Gators, will try to bounce back from this demoralizing loss as they hit the road to play ACC rival #17 Clemson (12-7) in a weekend series. The Gators and Seminoles will meet up again on March 25th in Jacksonville for one game. The Gators should prepare for a dogfight from FSU and I expect it to be a great game!

*All stats accredited to

Sunday, March 16, 2014

UF Baseball: Florida vs Arkansas Game 1

            On Friday night, the Gator baseball team defeated the Arkansas Razorbacks by a score of 2-1 to extend their winning streak to six games. I apologize for this article coming two days after as I have been away from my computer on a spiritual retreat.  As I sit here in this cabin, I am now finally able to bring you the details of the game.
            Logan Shore got the call on the mound for the Gators and the true freshman delivered a solid outing as he picked up his first collegiate win.  Shore gave up one earned run and struck out five as he went 6.1 innings.  Sophomore Aaron Rhodes came in for 2.1 innings of relief and showed complete dominance as he struck out six of the seven Arkansas batters he faced to earn his second save this season.
            The Gators did all their scoring early as they tacked on runs in the first and third innings.  Both runs came from RBI singles by true freshman Peter Alonso and junior Casey Turgeon.  Juniors Taylor Gushue and Braden Mattson led the team in hits with two a piece.
            The Gators will look cap of the three game series tomorrow as freshman A.J. Puk (1-1) toes the mound against Arkansas junior Chris Oliver (1-2).  The Gators won yesterday’s contest by a score of 1-0 and will be gunning for the sweep as they try to push their winning streak to eight games.

*All stats accredited to

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

WA Rolls Past CSCA

Today's game was much closer to home as I had to drive only ten minutes to watch the Westminster Academy softball team take on the Coral Springs Christian Crusaders in district play today. It was a back and forth affair that included a plethora of runs, but the Lady Lions came out on top by a score of 19-9 (ironically the same score of the Cardinal Gibbons game). They have now won six games in a row!

The Lady Lions got right to it as junior Micaela Von Essen hit a two-run inside the park home run to give WA a 2-0 lead in the first inning. CSCA responded with three runs of its own in the bottom of the first inning and the lead would only keep changing from there. Up a run in the seventh inning, WA used a big nine run inning to put CSCA away and secure their second district win of the year. Seniors Alex Pagliaro and Jensen Strandberg played instrumental roles in the win today. Pagliaro knocked in three runs on four hits while scoring three times and stealing one base. Strandberg notched three hits, plated four runners, and scored twice. One of Strandberg's three hits in particular was a clutch two out, two strike double in the fifth inning that scored two runs to give WA the lead. I asked Pagliaro her thoughts on the game and she said, "I thought we stepped it up in the last inning. I was proud."

The contagious hitting of the seniors rubbed off on the rest of the team. I'll start with the two juniors, Micaela Von Essen and Brantley Taylor. Von Essen's home run was her only hit, but she knocked in four runs. Taylor reached base four times in five at bats. She stroked two hits, had one RBI, and stole a base. Going to sophomores, Kiersten Casey had one hit on the day, but it was a big one as it scored two runners in the Lady Lions' big seventh inning. She finished the day with three RBI's. Freshmen Erika Hall and Hannah Beard did a good job at moving runners into scoring position and combined to score three runs. They both swiped a base in the contest. The two middle schoolers on the squad, eighth grader Maddi Conner and seventh grader Chelsea Brown, showed why they belong at the varsity level. Conner knocked in two runs, had two hits, and scored two runs. Brown hit a home run which served as one of her three hits. She reached base five times, stole three bases, and scored four runs as well. Every Lady Lion who batted more than once in the lineup scored at least once.

Pitching wise, Jensen Strandberg was on fire. Coming in relief for Erika Hall in the second inning, she pitched six innings, struck out nine, and gave up six runs on rout to her eighth win of the year. She had some great defense behind her, as shortstop Alex Pagliaro dove to keep some balls in the outfield and threw a girl out at the plate. Catcher Brantley Taylor also did a good job at blocking balls and keeping runners in check. First baseman Maddi Conner also helped out with an unassisted double play.

With this win, the Lady Lions are 2-0 in district play and have guaranteed themselves a spot in the Class 3A District Championship game as well as a spot in 3A regional play. When asked about her team's performance, Head Coach Casey Jarvis told me, "We're working towards a championship season one game at a time." The Lady Lions' (8-1) next game is at home against the Pinecrest Panthers (1-5), who they defeated by a score of 17-6 earlier this year. This game will be at 4 p.m. on Thursday. The CSCA Crusaders (2-4) resume action tomorrow on the road against Ahfachkee at 4 p.m.

WA Softball Tops Gibbons

While on my week long spring break from UF, I still found a way to catch some sports. This time however, it had nothing to do with a Gator sports team. No, I decided to head back to the old stomping grounds and watch the Westminster Academy Lady Lions softball team as they took on the Cardinal Gibbons Chiefs. After saying hi to a few of the girls, I sat down and watched what ended up being a blowout.

The Lady Lions jumped on Gibbons early as they used a ton of walks and timely hitting to take a 7-0 lead in the first inning. The inning was highlighted by a near grand slam by senior Alex Pagliaro that cleared the bases. Seven runs was enough for senior starting pitcher Jensen Strandberg, who pitched the first two innings before being relieved by freshman Erika Hall with a double digit lead. Hall had some issues finding the plate and surrendered some runs, but she did enough to keep the Lady Lions in the lead. I am a big proponent of Head Coach Casey Jarvis's decision to put Hall in with such a big lead as she is the pitching future of the softball program and needs to get as much experience as possible when those opportunities present themselves. The Lady Lions were very patient at the plate today as they drew over ten walks as a team. They could have beat Gibbons by 15 runs in three innings, but ended up winning by 10 runs in five instead. Jensen Strandberg got the win while striking out two and Erica Hall picked up a hold for her two innings of relief. In case anyone was wondering, junior Micaela Von Essen was the one who put Cardinal Gibbons out of its misery with her hit that scored seventh grader Chelsea Brown to give WA the 19-9 mercy rule victory.

Defensively, the Lady Lions did a good job at limiting errors and not giving Cardinal Gibbons any extra outs. My defensive highlight had to be when junior catcher Brantley Taylor held on to the ball after being trucked by a runner to end the first inning. In my mind, that play set the tone right off the bat of who was going to control this game. Shortstop Alex Pagliaro also made a nice play on a ball as she moved to her left and made a quick throw to first to get the runner out by a step. The Lady Lions (7-1) will look to extend their five game winning streak as they hit the road to take on the Coral Springs Christian Crusaders (2-3) at 4 p.m tomorrow. I will be on hand to report on this game as well. Cardinal Gibbons (4-5) will look to get back on track as they return home to face the Coconut Creek Cougars (6-5) on March 6 at 4 p.m.