Rough Weekend Behind Orange and Blue

As good as the previous weekend had been, this past weekend was almost as bad for the Florida Gators. From post-season prospects taking a hit to a critical injury and more the weekend was a sharp reminder about the highs and lows of intercollegiate athletics. In addition to the men's basketball team losing to Tennessee, the Gators had several other forgettable weekend performances.

Women's Basketball --- Florida went to Athens, Georgia with a chance to tie for second place in the SEC and instead got beaten by Georgia 84-75. Amanda Butler's team had beaten the Bulldogs by 16 points (61-45) back in January. Florida was in pretty good shape, leading 59-54 with less than 12 minutes to play, but then saw Georgia go on a 27-10 run to take over the contest. Florida ends up fourth in the SEC and earns a first round bye in the SEC Tournament which begins Thursday in North Little Rock, Arkansas. Florida will play the winner of Tennessee/Arkansas Friday night at 7:30 EST. The Gators' 23-6 record makes them a lock for the NCAA for the first time in three years.

Baseball --- Five straight wins to open the season raised hopes for Kevin O'Sullivan's second Gator team. Those hopes were dashed, at least for the time being, by the Miami Hurricanes. The ‘Canes took three straight in Gainesville in three different ways. Friday night Miami hit two long home runs off Gator ace Patrick Keating on their way to an 8-5 win. On Saturday, Florida wasted outstanding pitching performances by Alex Panteliodis and Billy Bullock by leaving 11 runners on base in a 2-1 loss. The Gators got runners on first and third with none out in the ninth inning but failed to push across the tying run. Yet those two games were the high point of the series. Florida was drubbed 16-2 on Sunday afternoon, posting almost as many errors (3) as hits (4). The Gators have one more weekend before starting SEC play.

Softball ---- It doesn't seem like you can have a lousy weekend when you win a tournament in dominating fashion, but that's what happened to Tim Walton's softball team. Florida won six games in three days, outscoring their opponents 50-12. But Florida's victory is overshadowed by the loss of senior centerfielder Kim Waleszonia who suffered a leg injury ending her regular season. She has a tibial plateau fracture in her leg, but might be back for post-season play in May. Waleszonia set the table for the Gator sluggers and is an energetic, personable student-athlete who puts a smile on everyone's face. She is Florida's All-time leader in hits (265), runs (164) and triple (17) despite the fact that she'll end up missing two-thirds of her senior season.

Gymnastics --- Florida fell to Georgia by more than two points in front of a packed house in Athens. The Gators were competing without senior Corey Hartung on both the vault and floor exercise due to a strained calf muscle and it was too much to overcome. On the positive side, the 4th ranked Gators pulled it together and posted their third straight score of 196-plus. They return to action Friday night against No. 14 Michigan in the O'Dome. It's the final home dual meet of the season. Hartung, however won't be competing in her final home meet. She has a tear in her calf muscle and Florida Coach Rhonda Faehn says she won't compete for at least two weeks.

Oh well, maybe this week will be better. It almost has to be.


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