Larry Vettel's Women's Sports Weekly

Ten days ago the Florida softball team was in the running for a SEC Championship and seemed like a lock to host a NCAA Regional. Then Karen Johns' team dropped seven in a row and everything seemed like it was in jeopardy.

Well there was a return to normalcy Tuesday as Florida posed a crucial doubleheader sweep of Florida State. Beating FSU is always great fun for any Florida team, but to do it with so much on the line and at the tail end of a long losing streak is particularly significant.

It didn't come easy. Florida had to rally from a 4-0 deficit to win the opening game, 7-4. Mandy Schuerman ripped two doubles and drove in three runs to lead the way while sophomore Stacy Stevens picked up her 22nd victory in the circle.

Game two saw Schuerman start out in the circle (on the mound for you baseball fans) while continuing to deliver at the plate. She homered and got the win while Stevens preserved the shutout earning her third save in a 2-0 Florida triumph.

As an added reward, several members of the squad enjoyed warm applause from the crowd at the Florida/FSU baseball game when they came over after disposing of the Noles.

Critical Weekend for Golfers

Earlier this spring the Lady Gator golf team struggled to a disappointing sixth place finish in its own invitational at the UF Golf Course. Last time out it was another disappointing sixth place for Florida, this time in the SEC Championship Tournament.

As a result Florida faces a critical weekend as the host of the NCAA East Regional Tournament. Twenty-one teams are in Gainesville for the three-day event that begins Thursday. Florida needs a top eight finish to advance to the NCAA Tournament. This has been an odd season for Florida. The bad news: the two performances I mentioned and no tournament wins. The good news: they've been consistent in grabbing a top ten spot in every event.

The field is a strong one, with top-ranked Duke and eleventh-rated Florida just two of six top-20 teams competing. In addition, non-ranked teams like Miami, Mississippi State, South Carolina and Vanderbilt are all legit threats to advance. Florida needs to make sure they get the job done after coming up one stroke short last year.

You have to admit it's somewhat ironic that two sixth-place finishes are the low point of this season, and yet a sixth place finish this weekend would be perfectly acceptable.

Tennis Ready for Next Challenge

As I write this the Florida women's tennis team is about five hours from being told they are hosting first and second round matches in the NCAA Tournament. The Gators are currently ranked second in the nation with an 18-2 record and take a 12-match winning streak into NCAA's. Five of those wins came against top ten opponents, and that includes avenging losses to #4 Kentucky and #5 Vanderbilt.

Last year perhaps the most stunning loss in UF history came when Miami ousted Florida in the second round in Gainesville. You can bet Roland Thornqvist will mention that about a hundred times between now and next week's action.

Aury Still Cruz-in'

One year removed from her remarkable Florida volleyball Career, Aury Cruz is already making her mark as a professional. The three-time SEC Player of the Year was recently named the MVP of the Superior League in Puerto Rico. She was also the only unanimous choice for the all-offense team. If you want to get into a good debate with a Florida volleyball fan, take on the question, who was the greatest volleyball player in Gator history?

To me it comes down to Cruz, an outside hitter and middle blocker Aycan Gokberk who starred for UF from 1992-95.

Aury had more kills and digs, Aycan wins on hitting percentage and blocks. Aycan gets bonus points for overcoming two torn ACL injuries. Cruz gets bonus points for leading Florida to the national finals for the first time.

Bottom line, if you needed a kill to win a match, you'd set Aycan Gokberk. If you needed a defensive play to win, you want the ball hit toward Aury Cruz. If they had ever been teammates, you win it all.

Fightin Gators Top Stories