Florida Gators Weekend Preview: April 3-5


With the spring sports in full swing, this weekend is again a full slate of events for the Florida Gators. There will be eight teams competing, including SEC conference series all the way to NCAA regional competition.

The #3 Florida baseball team (23-7) will head to Columbia to take on the Missouri Tigers (20-10). The Gators trail Missouri by a game and Vanderbilt by two games in the Eastern Division. With two wins, Florida could move into a tie with the Tigers, and a sweep would put them in at least second place. Vanderbilt is traveling to Georgia, who is tied with Florida in the standings.

Logan Shore (4-2), A.J. Puk (5-2), and Dane Dunning (4-0) will be the starting pitchers this weekend. Florida has had success as of late against the Tigers, winning 10 of the last 12 matchups. While freshman Jeremy Vasquez has been hitting strong while playing first base, look for sophomore Peter Alonso to make his season debut after missing the opening part of the season with a foot injury. Alonso was the MVP of the heralded Northwoods League last summer and could become a major threat for opposing pitchers. UF and Mizzou will play a single game on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

On the other diamond, the #3 Gators softball team (33-4) will play host to the South Carolina Gamecocks (26-12). Despite their top-3 national ranking, Florida sits in the middle of the pack in conference standings, as all four of their losses have come to SEC opponents. Like the baseball team, the softball team has done well against this weekend’s opponent. The Gators have won 28 of the past 29 meetings against USC.

The two teams have not played since 2013, and Florida will look to start off the month strong after being away from home for so long. The softball team played just three games at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium in March and has 12 home games on tap this month. They will play a single game Friday night and a doubleheader on Saturday.

Men’s tennis (10-6) is currently ranked 16th, and will host #25 LSU (15-4) on Friday. They will then get a day of rest before taking on #8 Texas A&M on Sunday. The regular season is winding down, and Florida is looking to make a strong push before post-season play begins. Chase Perez-Blanco and Elliott Orkin have five conference singles wins each, and they will need to continue their strong play facing two SEC foes this weekend.

The men’s counterpart, the women’s tennis team (17-1) will be taking on #20 Kentucky (15-7) on Friday in Lexington. #3 Florida will then travel to Nashville to face #8 Vanderbilt on Sunday before finishing the regular season with two matches at home. The Gators are 38-2 all-time playing the Wildcats and remain undefeated in conference play this season. Look for Brianna Morgan to lead the way, as she has won six matches so far.

On the links, the women’s golf team will be competing in the Bryan National Collegiate tournament this weekend. The tournament is Friday through Sunday in Greensboro, North Carolina. The Gators are ranked 21st and will face 17 teams, including four in the top-25. This is the final regular season tournament, and UF will compete in the SEC Tournament in a few weeks.

Florida Gators in action

Florida’s track and field team is currently competing in the 2015 Pepsi Florida Relays in Gainesville. Both the men’s and women’s teams are ranked 2nd and have three more meets before the SEC Outdoor Championships in May. There will be a gap between now and the next contest on April 24. You can follow all of the action from this weekend here.

Women’s lacrosse (8-4) will be in Big East action on Saturday as they take on the Georgetown Hoyas (2-8). Currently ranked 8th, the lacrosse team has won two in a row and will return home for the first time since March 17. Florida’s recent victories came at Vanderbilt and at Temple. The Gators are 2-0 in conference play and sit in first place. Saturday’s game at Donald R. Dizney Stadium begins at noon.

Next: Billy Donovan Leaving Florida?

Finally, the #2 women’s gymnastics team is competing in the NCAA Morgantown Regional on Saturday. Competing at the WVU Coliseum, the Gators are vying for a 15th straight trip to the NCAA Championships. The top two teams at the regional will earn the right to travel to Fort Worth, Texas and compete for a national title. Florida placed third at the SEC Championships in March and will try to improve that finish to continue their season.

There will be stiff competition at the Morgantown Regional, including #11 Stanford, #14 Illinois-Champaign, and #19 Arkansas. Kytra Hunter will lead the way for the Gators, as she was named SEC Gymnast of the Year. Co-SEC Freshman of the Year honors went to Kennedy Baker. Florida led the conference with six members being named to the All-SEC team. Events are scheduled to begin on 4 PM Saturday.