March 2, 2012


Florida travels to Miami for key weekend series


The top-ranked Florida Gators will hit the road for the first time this season as they head south for a three-game series at No. 8 Miami.


Florida has not played since its three-game home sweep on William and Mary Sunday. The Gators are 7-1, with the lone blemish coming to No. 15 Cal State Fullerton in the finale of their opening-weekend set. The Hurricanes, under head coach Jim Morris (left), defeated Florida Atlantic 10-5 on Wednesday to push their record to 8-0, with seven of those victories coming at home.


Another huge in-state battle occurs in the Palmetto State as third-ranked South Carolina tangles with No. 14 Clemson. The teams will meet in Charleston on Friday before heading to Columbia on Saturday and finally Clemson on Sunday. The Gamecocks edged Presbyterian 2-1 on Tuesday to improve to 7-0. The Tigers did not play during the week after taking two of three from Maine this past weekend to sit at 4-2.


No. 7 North Carolina will host USC in a three-game set. The Tar Heels topped St. John’s 8-4 on Tuesday to raise their record to 6-1. The Trojans lost for the first time on Tuesday at Pepperdine 7-2 to fall to 7-1. USC has been one of the early-season surprises and will gauge their progress this weekend.


Second-ranked Stanford will travel to Fresno State for a three-game set. The Cardinal defeated UC Davis 5-1 on Tuesday to improve to 8-0. Stanford has been dominant so far, with decisive sweeps over nationally-ranked Vanderbilt and Texas. The Bulldogs were the preseason favorite in the WAC, but have stumbled out of the gate at 4-5. Fresno State lost 7-1 to UC Santa Barbara on Tuesday.


Another impressive field has been assembled for the Houston College Classic at Minute Maid Park. Of the two local schools, No. 4 Rice is 9-0 and Houston is 4-4. No. 6 Arkansas (9-1) and Tennessee (7-1) from the SEC join Texas Tech (8-1) and No. 18 Texas (3-5) from the Big 12 in the six-team event.


Other intriguing series this weekend include Pepperdine at No. 16 Louisville, Long Beach State at No. 20 Oregon, Rhode Island at Vanderbilt, Stony Brook at East Carolina and Oklahoma State at TCU.


Two other tournaments to keep an eye on are at Auburn and at Baylor. The Tigers entertain Purdue, Southern Miss and Charleston Southern, while the Bears welcome UC Irvine and Lamar.


League play begins in the Southern Conference as Elon travels to College of Charleston in a key series. The SWAC also starts its conference season with Alabama A&M at Alabama State, Arkansas-Pine Bluff at Grambling State, Jackson State at Mississippi Valley State and the marquee match-up of Southern at Texas Southern.


Enjoy the games this weekend.


(photo courtesy of Miami Media Relations Office)