The Russell Report: Catching up on Gator gymnastics, baseball and softball

Published: Apr. 19, 2021 at 6:07 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - The Gator gymnastics team had a heck of a year, finishing fourth in the nation after competing in the NCAA championships over the weekend, but I’m sure Coach Jenny Roland’s team is thinking of what might have been.

Florida spent the entire year ranked No. 1 in the country but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything and after failing to win at the SEC championships, the Gators went to the national finals but had a disastrous first rotation where they had two big misses and had to count a score of 9.175 on beam, an event they were ranked No. 1 in entering the postseason. It was a hole the team just could not dig itself out of. Michigan became just the seventh school in history to win a gymnastics national title.

After going just 6-6 in SEC play, the Gator baseball team has suddenly found a winning formula after beating FSU and sweeping Missouri at home last week.

The wins have certainly not been dominating but wins are wins, especially in the SEC. Gator coach Kevin O’Sullivan is trying to push the right buttons and he’s tinkered with the starting rotation, the lineup and the defense in order to find the best ways to win. Four road games this week with trips to Jacksonville and Auburn won’t be easy but these are certainly winnable games as the Gators continue to try to build some momentum for a difficult series with Vanderbilt and Arkansas still ahead.

When Gator softball lost this past week for a second time to in-state rival UCF, a lot of eyebrows were raised; after all, Florida isn’t supposed to lose to in-state schools like UCF, even if they are a very good team that is nationally ranked. And then, Florida had to go on the road to face top-five ranked Alabama, and you know what happened? The Gators took the series! Never count out a Tim Walton-coached team as they bounce back from that mid-week loss in fine fashion.

Finally, a bit of normalcy returning to college athletics.

The NCAA announced that all sports will resume their normal recruiting calendars on June 1 that finally erases a COVID-19 driven dead period enacted in March of last year. And Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin said he’s hopeful fans will be able to pack The Swamp again this fall although he cautioned that he will listen to recommendations made by UF Health to guide that decision. Still, it’s finally some positive news that is so very welcome for fans, coaches and players alike.

Sports Scene with Steve Russell airs Monday through Friday on ESPN 98.1 FM and AM 850 WRUF.

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