By PATRICK CASEY
Ponce de Leon’s Jennifer Grant became the third member of the Lady Pirates to sign a scholarship to play college basketball this fall. Grant, who will play at Albany State next season, is joined by Maggie Wright, who signed with Troy University, and Mary Howes, who is off to Eckerd College in Tampa. Tim Alford had a successful run with these seniors and still has a strong unit left to challenge for district supremacy again next season.
Zach Kutch, a product of Milton High School has transferred from Auburn to Illinois State University. Kutch handled kickoff duties for the Tigers in five games last season. He averaged 53.2 yards on 16 kickoffs. He sat out the 2006 season as a redshirt. As a true freshman, Kutch appeared in five games and made 14 kickoffs with a pair of touchbacks, while averaging 61.9 yards per kickoff. He was also named to the All-SEC Academic Team as a freshman.
The University of Florida softball team (62-2) is the top seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Gators will host Georgia Tech (31-29), UCF (46-18) and USF (44-18) in Regional action in Gainesville beginning on Friday. The top seed is the first top 10 seed for the Gators in the history of the program. It is the ninth NCAA Tournament appearance for the Gators in the 12-year history of the program, the sixth consecutive and the fifth time the Gators will host. The No. 1 University of Florida softball team (62-2) won its first ever Southeastern Conference Tournament title on Saturday afternoon in Baton Rouge. The Gators earned the title with a win over No. 3 Alabama (51-6).
University of Florida offensive lineman Jim Tartt was among those listed by The Football Writers Association of America on its 2008 Outland Trophy Watch List, which was announced in late April. Seventy standout linemen from around the country have been nominated for consideration in the preseason. Tartt, a rising senior who played high school football in Wakulla has played in 30 games with 29 starts at left guard. His career start total is the highest among any active member of the team. In 2007, he was named to the All-SEC second team by the league coaches. He started all 13 games for the Gators a year ago and graded out a champion more than any other player on the line. Tartt recently had surgery on his left shoulder and is expected to be fully recovered by fall drills.
Eighth-ranked Georgia captured the 2008 Southeastern Conference baseball regular season title with a 12-10 win over 16th-ranked Vanderbilt Sunday at Hawkins Field. It was the Bulldogs sixth overall SEC title in school history (1933, 1953, 1954, 2001, 2004, 2008), and the third this decade including the second under head coach David Perno.
Jessica Owens, Samford’s junior leftfielder from Fort Walton Beach, earned the second All-Ohio Valley Conference honor of her career. Last season, she was named as a member of the OVC All-Tournament Team as a sophomore. This year, Owens is leading the Bulldogs with a .333 batting average and is only five hits shy of setting the school’s all-time record in the category. She heads into the OVC Tournament with 55 hits and is within striking distance to surpass former Samford-great Kelly Smith’s 2002 all-time mark of 59. In Owens’ three seasons as a Bulldog, she has compiled stolen-base totals of 15, 19 and 20. On Sunday, she tallied her school-record 20th stolen base of the season against UT Martin and surpassed her own single-season record of 19, which she set last year. Owens is Samford’s all-time stolen-base leader with a career total of 54.
The NCAA Sublicensing Committee has approved a record 34 bowl games for the Football Bowl Subdivision in 2008-09. The St. Petersburg Bowl and Congressional Bowl (Washington, D.C.), have joined the returning 2007-08 postseason contests. Army or Navy will face an Atlantic Coast Conference foe in the new Congressional Bowl while the St. Petersburg Bowl matches Big East and Conference USA opponents.