Jordan McPherson/SEC Country
Florida baseball's SEC championship was just one of many sports highlights out of Gainesville.

Florida baseball’s SEC championship highlights sports-heavy weekend

Welcome to another installment of Good Morning, Gators, SEC Country’s daily morning column covering Florida athletics with Florida beat writer Jordan McPherson. Today, we look back at a weekend filled with Florida sports, preview the week ahead and more.

Weekend in review

The Gators were busy this past weekend with four teams competing for championships over the past three days. Here are the highlights:

  • The fifth-ranked Florida baseball team took two of three games against Kentucky at home to clinch a share of the SEC regular-season championship. The Gators won 16 of their final 19 conference games and closed with six consecutive series wins to earn their fourth SEC title in 10 seasons under coach Kevin O’Sullivan and first since 2014.

  • The No. 1 seed Florida softball team advanced to the NCAA Tournament’s Super Regional round for the fifth straight year after going 3-1 in its regional. The Gators advanced to the regional final by defeating Florida A&M, 9-0, in five innings on Friday and Oklahoma State 2-0 on Saturday. Needing just one win against Oklahoma State on Sunday to punch its ticket to the next round of the NCAA Tournament, Florida opened the final day with a 1-0 loss before rebounding for a 5-0 regional-clinching win.
  • The top-seeded Gators women’s tennis team advanced to the NCAA Tournament semifinals for the 25th time in the last 31 years after defeating Texas Tech, 4-0, in the round of 16 and Oklahoma State, 4-1, in the quarterfinals.

  • The Florida women’s golf team sits in 13th place at 46-over 622 after two rounds of stroke play at the NCAA Championships. The Gators will need to move up at least five spots on the leaderboard in the final round of stroke play Monday morning in order to advance to the match play portion of the tournament.

Speaking of championships …

The Florida Gators once again swept the three Gatehouse Media SEC All-Sports titles (overall, men’s and women’s), the school revealed Sunday afternoon.

The awards are determined based on a school’s conference finish in each of the sports it participates in. Points are awarded based on the number of competing teams in a sport, so first place in baseball would earn a school 14 points while a first-place finish in equestrian is only worth 4 points.

A school’s total points are then divided by its total possible points. That percentage of possible points earned is the school’s score used for its ranking.

Florida won 5 total SEC team championships this season: baseball, women’s golf, softball, men’s swimming and diving, and volleyball.

The week ahead

  • Baseball: The Gators enter the SEC Tournament as the top seed and will begin play on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m ET.
  • Softball: The top-seeded Gators host No. 16 Alabama for a best-of-3 series from Thursday-Sautrday with a spot in the Women’s College World Series on the line.
  • Women’s Tennis: The top-seeded Gators face No. 4 seed Vanderbilt on Monday for a spot in the national championship game.
  • Track and field: The second-ranked men’s team and eighth-ranked women’s team head to Lexington, Ky., for the three-day NCAA East Preliminary meet that begins on Thursday. The top qualifiers will advance to the NCAA Outdoor Championships, which begin on June 7.

Billy Horschel wins one

It’s been a long time coming for Billy Horschel, the 30-year-old former Florida golfer who’s still playing on the PGA Tour.

Sunday was definitely a highlight for his professional career as he won the AT&T Byron Nelson on a playoff for his first win since 2014. Horschel carded a 12-under-268 over four rounds and topped Jason Day by a stroke in the playoff for the win.

What they’re saying on Twitter

Florida linebacker Vosean Joseph:

Former Florida softball player Kelsey Stewart:

Florida wide receiver Dre Massey:

Gators in the MiLB

Former Florida pitcher Scott Moss helped make history on Saturday. Moss, the left-handed pitcher who was drafted in the fourth round of the 2016 MLB Draft by the Cincinnati Reds and has a fastball that sits in the low-to-mid 90s, tossed the first 6 innings of the Single-A Dayton Dragons’ first 9-inning no-hitter in the team’s 18-year history. Moss struck out 6 batters while walking 3 to improve his record to 6-1 on the season and drop his ERA to an impressive 1.91.

Moss wasn’t the only former Florida player to make a minor league impact this weekend. Former Gators catcher Mike Zunino hit 3 home runs over his last two games for the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers.

And of course, Tim Tebow, the Heisman Trophy-winner-turned-minor league baseball player, hit his third home run of the season for the Single-A Columbia Fireflies.

Outside of that home run, though, Tebow is still in the midst of a slump. He’s batting just .212 over the last 10 games and has more strikeouts (12) than hits (7) over that span.


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