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Daily Horoscope for May 25, 2024

South Florida Local News - Fri, 05/24/2024 - 21:00
General Daily Insight for May 25, 2024

Fresh inspiration is likely to find us today. When relaxed Venus harmonizes with profound Pluto, life doesn’t have to be hard — sometimes the easiest and most obvious solution to a problem can actually address it on a deep level. The perceptive Moon then shakes off a square to foggy Neptune and powers into practical Capricorn, sharpening our insights. At last, optimistic Jupiter enters bubbly Gemini at 7:15 pm EDT. Embracing a positive attitude is often the first step toward escaping any rut!

Aries

March 21 – April 19

Getting to know your own city better could be especially exciting. As adventurous Jupiter enters your 3rd House of Short Trips, you shouldn’t have to travel far to have an interesting and informative experience. Even so, what you find isn’t likely to be all fun and games — you might also become more aware of problems lurking in your community. Keeping up a positive attitude can help you put this discovery in the right perspective. Maybe there’s something you can do to help!

Taurus

April 20 – May 20

Expanding your mindset may be necessary at this time. With abundant Jupiter shifting into your finance zone, it’s possible that you’ll wind up having more resources at your disposal in the near future. If that happens, you’ll still have to decide for yourself how you want to use your windfall — and that’s not always easy. You might as well start your thought process now to be prepared. Set aside time to clearly identify a goal you’d pursue given the ability to afford it.

Gemini

May 21 – June 20

Deciding what to do with the spotlight could be an urgent priority. Buoyant Jupiter bounds into your sign today, drawing attention your way. That said, even you can’t maintain an audience by talking to hear yourself talk forever. If you have something meaningful to say, people will be more likely to keep listening. Don’t be afraid to pursue your less typical intellectual interests — you might not always get the right answers on your first try, but the journey will be engaging!

Cancer

June 21 – July 22

Releasing your attachment to instant gratification may presently be a good idea. Fortunate Jupiter is sneaking into your 12th House of Secrets, giving you an ideal opportunity to work on something that needs to develop in private for a while. The hard part is that the people around you might not understand what you’re doing or why you think it’s important. Although these things could become clear to them later on, you’ll probably have to be patient regarding their attitudes for the time being!

Leo

July 23 – August 22

Joining a new community can benefit you at present. That being said, you might need to look beyond the fun and pleasant atmosphere to understand what’s really being asked of you. As amiable Venus in your social sector aligns with intense Pluto in your relationship zone, someone may have expectations that they’re not being totally open about. Try to find out the whole story — it could turn out to be something you’re okay with, but you need to decide that for yourself.

Virgo

August 23 – September 22

Receiving recognition for your hard work is possible at this time. As favorable Jupiter ascends to your ambitious 10th house, perhaps you’ll also encounter an opportunity to accept a new position with higher status. That said, even a welcome shift to your duties could cause some stress by shaking up your predictable, comfortable routines. Be honest with yourself about the pros and cons of change — you may ultimately decide to proceed, but having mixed feelings doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you.

Libra

September 23 – October 22

Your efforts toward personal growth could get a boost very soon. Valuing yourself as worthy of this investment should get you off to a strong start. Then, with philosophical Jupiter moving into your 9th House of Higher Education, you’re ideally positioned to learn modern ideas that can help you make sense of things. You may immediately become a passionate advocate. Putting your views into practice might be harder than it sounds — focus on nailing that down before you try to convert anyone else.

Scorpio

October 23 – November 21

The overall intensity of your life is currently likely to increase. Starting today, supersized Jupiter bursts into your mysterious 8th house — the domain of death, intimacy, large amounts of money, and more! Perhaps there’s a part of you that enjoys this kind of drama. However, is it possible to experience the passion you crave without spiraling into pointless conflict? Don’t be afraid to dig deeply into situations that capture your interest, but keep your focus pointed toward finding realistic productive outcomes.

Sagittarius

November 22 – December 21

Building a rewarding partnership is presently possible. With benevolent Jupiter entering your 7th House of Relationships, you could meet someone who is truly good for you. Still, your understandable excitement might block you from getting a totally accurate view of this person. You’re better off taking action before you allow your assumptions to grow unchecked! Have a candid conversation to clarify expectations now — even if you think you don’t have any, some are probably lurking in the back of your mind.

Capricorn

December 22 – January 19

Lots of work may be coming your way at any moment. With exuberant Jupiter powering into your productive 6th house, your skills are potentially in high demand. Even if this translates to duties you generally enjoy, you still might wind up with a schedule that’s a little busier than what you find comfortable! Could pushing past the pain at least bring you a financial boost, though? Stay conscious of that side of the equation as you plan your path forward.

Aquarius

January 20 – February 18

A playful and creative mindset could come naturally to you now. As upbeat Jupiter surges into your 5th House of Pleasure, you’ll be more inclined to pursue whatever feels good — or find the fun side of anything you happen to be doing. Remember that this doesn’t necessarily make you shallow. Although it’s sometimes easier to look for meaning in an experience of suffering, joy is merely the mirror image of pain. There’s no need to feel guilty about embracing it!

Pisces

February 19 – March 20

Making your home comfortable could currently be a compelling urge. As extravagant Jupiter saunters into your domestic 4th house, you’re probably willing to invest whatever it takes to create a space where you feel truly nourished. Before you start adding lavish details, however, think deeply about the basic building blocks. You may crave more privacy than you currently have, but perhaps you’re not fully conscious of this desire. Explore it, and then plan your improvements based on what you find out.

Braxton Garrett throws first big league shutout, leads Marlins past the Diamondbacks 3-0

South Florida Local News - Fri, 05/24/2024 - 20:46

By DAVID BRANDT (AP Baseball Writer)

PHOENIX (AP) — Braxton Garrett outdueled Arizona ace Zac Gallen for his first career shutout, Otto Lopez hit a two-run single and the Miami Marlins beat the Diamondbacks 3-0 on Friday night.

The Marlins have won eight of 11 after starting the season 10-31.

Garrett (1-0) had easily his best outing since his return from a shoulder injury that sidelined him the first 1 1/2 months of the season. The lefty cruised through the majority of his outing, giving up just four hits while striking out six.

The 26-year-old came into the game with a 10.24 ERA over two starts and watched that number fall all the way to 5.30 after nine scoreless innings.

“It’s awesome — I wasn’t expecting to do that today,” Garrett said. “But I did expect to start trending upwards. The lines in my last two games weren’t great, obviously, but I felt like there was a lot of good in the middle of those games.

“It was just about putting it all together.”

Not only was it Garrett’s first MLB shutout, but his first complete game. He threw 95 pitches, retiring Christian Walker on a long fly ball to center for the final out. After Jazz Chisholm Jr. made the catch, Garrett had a broad grin as he walked toward home plate to give catcher Nick Fortes a hearty handshake.

The Marlins have leaned on their pitching during their recent surge, throwing five shutouts over the past nine games.

Lopez gave Miami a 2-0 lead in the second, hitting a hard grounder up the middle that scored Jake Burger and Jesús Sánchez. Burger pushed the advantage to 3-0 in the fourth with a no-doubt solo homer to left that traveled 441 feet and hit off the facade of the second deck.

“We got a couple pitches that we could do something with and we executed on them,” Burger said. “That’s the (plan) with aces around the league. If you get a pitch to hit, you’ve got to execute. If not, they’ll eat you alive.”

Burger and Lopez had two hits apiece and Nick Gordon hit a double.

Gallen (5-4) wasn’t at his best, but managed to get through seven innings, giving up three runs on eight hits and a walk. He struck out five.

“Felt OK in the first, but then from the second to the fifth, I was just kind of grinding out there,” Gallen said. “Didn’t feel particularly sharp. … Just trying to do my job, keep us in it and give us a chance to win.”

Arizona’s Ketel Marte had his hitting streak stopped at 21 games after going hitless in four at-bats. Rookie Blaze Alexander had two of the team’s four hits.

The game took just 1 hour, 58 minutes.

UP NEXT

The D-backs will start LHP Jordan Montgomery (2-2, 4.98 ERA) on Saturday night while the Marlins counter with RHP Sixto Sánchez (0-2, 6.41 ERA).

___

AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB

Rangers edge Panthers in overtime, send Eastern Conference finals to Florida tied at one game each

South Florida Local News - Fri, 05/24/2024 - 20:31

The Rangers were not about to let the Panthers get a decisive edge in the Eastern Conference finals.

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Barclay Goodrow scored in overtime, and New York topped the Panthers 2-1 to even the series at 1-1 at Madison Square Garden on Friday.

“Obviously, it’s tough to lose in overtime, but at the end of the day, 1-1 in their building,” Florida defenseman Aaron Ekblad said.  “They came out really really explosive tonight, and that’s the way we expected. We lost a really tight game. We’ll move on. We’ve got a quick turnaround for a 3 o’clock game at home.”

The Rangers, who were dormant in Game 1, did not need much time to get rolling in Game 2. Alexis Lafrenière, who accidentally tipped a puck into his own net in Game 1, delivered a hit on Carter Verhaeghe, setting up the Rangers’ opening goal. New York defenseman Adam Fox got the puck and delivered it to former Panther Vincent Trocheck, who slotted the puck into a wide-open net.

Verhaeghe delivered a hit after the goal, setting up a series of fights that gave New York a power play immediately after scoring. The Panthers killed it off thanks in part to an excellent save by goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.

Verhaeghe got his revenge, scoring on a power play with 1:51 left in the first period. He received a pass from Sam Bennett and fired from the slot, beating Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin for his eighth goal of the playoffs. Verhaeghe’s goal snapped a streak of 13 scoreless power plays for Florida.

“I thought we held the fort well,” Ekblad said.

Game 2 was much more physical than the first game, with the Panthers delivering 41 hits and the Rangers getting 51 in on Florida. The two teams combined for 65 hits in Game 1 and approached that number by the end of the second period on Friday.

“Nobody’s been arrested yet, so we’re OK,” Panthers coach Paul Maurice said during an in-game interview for the television broadcast.

The Panthers’ defense buckled down after allowing the open goal. The Rangers went more than 11 minutes in the first and second period without a shot on goal.

In overtime, the Rangers nearly won on a shot deflected by Oliver Ekman-Larsson. But Goodrow ultimately sealed the win.

The series now moves to Florida for Game 3. The Rangers and Panthers square off at Amerant Bank Arena at 3 p.m. on Sunday.

“They’re a really good team,” Verhaeghe said. “We didn’t expect to win every game. They came out strong, and we got the split. We go home and refocus.”

Prosecutors seek to bar Trump from statements endangering law enforcement in classified records case

South Florida Local News - Fri, 05/24/2024 - 17:41

By ERIC TUCKER (Associated Press)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal prosecutors on Friday asked the judge overseeing the classified documents case against Donald Trump to bar the former president from public statements that “pose a significant, imminent, and foreseeable danger to law enforcement agents” participating in the prosecution.

The request to U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon follows a distorted claim by Trump earlier this week that the FBI agents who searched his Mar-a-Lago estate in August 2022 were “authorized to shoot me” and were “locked & loaded ready to take me out & put my family in danger.”

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee was referring to the disclosure in a court document that the FBI, during the search, followed a standard use-of-force policy that prohibits the use of deadly force except when the officer conducting the search has a reasonable belief that the “subject of such force poses an imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to the officer or to another person.”

The Justice Department policy is routine and meant to limit, rather than encourage, the use of force during searches. Prosecutors noted that the search of the Florida property was intentionally conducted when Trump and his family were out of state and was coordinated in advance with the U.S. Secret Service. No force was used.

Prosecutors on special counsel Jack Smith’s team said in court papers late Friday that Trump’s statements falsely suggesting that federal agents “were complicit in a plot to assassinate him” expose law enforcement — some of whom prosecutors noted will be called as witnesses at his trial — “to the risk of threats, violence, and harassment.”

“Trump’s repeated mischaracterization of these facts in widely distributed messages as an attempt to kill him, his family, and Secret Service agents has endangered law enforcement officers involved in the investigation and prosecution of this case and threatened the integrity of these proceedings,” prosecutors told Cannon, who was nominated to the bench by Trump.

“A restriction prohibiting future similar statements does not restrict legitimate speech,” they said.

Defense lawyers have objected to the government’s motion, prosecutors said. An attorney for Trump didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment Friday night.

Attorney General Merrick Garland earlier this week slammed Trump’s claim as “extremely dangerous.” Garland noted that the document Trump was referring to is a standard policy limiting the use of force that was even used in the consensual search of President Joe Biden’s home as part of an investigation into the Democrat’s handling of classified documents.

Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung said in a statement Friday that Biden and “his hacks and thugs are obsessed with trying to deprive President Trump and all American voters of their First Amendment rights.

“Repeated attempts to silence President Trump during the presidential campaign are blatant attempts to interfere in the election. They are last ditch efforts of desperate Democrat radicals running a losing campaign for a failed president,” Cheung said.

Trump faces dozens of felony counts accusing him of illegally hoarding at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, classified documents that he took with him after he left the White House in 2021, and then obstructing the FBI’s efforts to get them back. He has pleaded not guilty and denied wrongdoing.

It’s one of four criminal cases Trump is confronting as he seeks to reclaim the White House, but outside of the ongoing New York hush money prosecution, it’s not clear that any of the other three will reach trial before the election.

Trump has already had restrictions placed on his speech in two of the other cases over incendiary comments officials say threaten the integrity of the prosecutions.

In the New York case, Trump has been fined and threatened with jail time for repeatedly violating a gag order that bars him from making public statements about witnesses, jurors and some others connected to the matter.

He’s also subject to a gag order in his federal criminal election interference case in Washington. That order limits what he can say about witnesses, lawyers in the case and court staff, though an appeals court freed him to speak about special counsel Smith, who brought the case.

_____

Associated Press reporter Alanna Durkin Richer contributed from Washington.

Bird flu virus detected in beef from an ill dairy cow, but USDA says meat remains safe

South Florida Local News - Fri, 05/24/2024 - 16:46

By JOSH FUNK (Associated Press)

Bird flu has been detected in beef for the first time, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Friday, but officials said the meat from a single sickened dairy cow was not allowed to enter the nation’s food supply and beef remains safe to eat.

The USDA said the virus was found as part of testing of 96 dairy cows that were diverted from the supply because federal inspectors noticed signs of illness during routine inspections of carcasses at meat processing plants. Bird flu was found in only one of those cows.

Bird flu has been confirmed in dairy cattle herds in nine states, has been found in milk and has prompted the slaughter of millions of chickens and turkeys. But finding it in beef is a new development for the outbreak, which began in 2022.

The agency said last month that it would test ground beef for bird flu at retail stores, but it has yet to find any sign of the virus.

Even if bird flu were to end up in consumer beef, the USDA says, cooking the meat to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit (73.9 Celsius) will kill it just like it kills E. coli and other viruses.

Two farmworkers at dairies in Michigan and Texas were sickened by bird flu this spring. The danger to the public remains low, but farmworkers exposed to infected animals are at higher risk, health officials said.

Only one other human case of bird flu has been confirmed in the United States. In 2022, a prisoner in a work program picked it up while killing infected birds at a poultry farm in Montrose County, Colorado. His only symptom was fatigue, and he recovered.

Kennedy blasts Biden, Trump over pandemic measures in pitch at Libertarian convention

South Florida Local News - Fri, 05/24/2024 - 15:58

By JONATHAN J. COOPER (Associated Press)

Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. accused Joe Biden and Donald Trump Friday of trampling on personal liberties in response to the pandemic that spanned their presidencies.

Kennedy, who has long claimed to be a victim of government and media censorship of his unorthodox views, said Americans have lost faith in their leaders and institutions, and he pledged to restore it.

“Maybe a brain worm ate that part of my memory, but I don’t recall any part of the United States Constitution where there’s an exemption for pandemics,” Kennedy said, referencing a New York Times report that he was diagnosed more than a decade ago with a parasite that lodged in his brain.

“Neither of them upheld the Constitution when it really counted,” he said of the current and former president.

Kennedy spoke at the Libertarian Party convention in Washington as he looks to grow his base of support among Americans disaffected with the Republican and Democratic parties. He’s formed alliances with minor parties spanning the ideological spectrum to gain access to the ballot in November and the debate stage next month.

Kennedy talked publicly about pursuing the Libertarian nomination as a way to secure ballot access, which sparked controversy in the party, where some members opposed supporting a candidate who is not always in step with their limited government views. His mere presence at the convention was controversial, with some delegates attempting to bar his speech. Kennedy was not on the list of nominees from which a Libertarian presidential candidate will be selected on Saturday.

Bearing the name of one of the Democratic Party’s most famous political dynasties, Kennedy acknowledged his differences with libertarians but focused is pitch on his view that the Biden and Trump administrations overstepped during the pandemic.

Trump, he said, was wrong to close businesses and shield companies from liability in developing products to respond to the pandemic. And Biden violated Americans’ fundamental freedoms with his support for vaccine mandates, Kennedy said. The mandates, which aimed to require inoculations for as many as 100 million workers, were partially blocked in courts and Congress, and most of the rest ended in 2023 with the Biden administration touting them as tremendously beneficial.

Kennedy also took aim at social media companies he says bowed to government pressure to block dissenting views on the origins of COVID-19 and the safety of vaccines.

“Democratic and Republican administrations have taken turns assaulting our constitutional rights and freedoms,” Kennedy said.

He repeated his pledge to pardon WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is fighting extradition from the United Kingdom on U.S. espionage charges, and to drop charges against Edward Snowden, a former intelligence contractor who revealed classified U.S. surveillance programs to capture communications and data from around the world.

Trump is scheduled to address the Libertarian convention Saturday, courting a segment of mostly conservative voters that has often been skeptical of him while trying to ensure attendees aren’t drawn to Kennedy.

Vaccines have been proven to be safe and effective in laboratory testing and in real-world use in hundreds of millions of people over decades. The World Health Organization credits childhood vaccines with preventing as many as 5 million deaths a year.

The COVID-19 vaccine has also been found to be safe and effective in testing and real-world usage. While no medical intervention is risk-free, doctors and researchers have proven that risks from disease are generally far greater than the risks from vaccines.

An anti-vaccine group Kennedy led has a lawsuit pending against a number of news organizations, among them The Associated Press, accusing them of violating antitrust laws by taking action to identify misinformation, including about COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccines. Kennedy took leave from the group when he announced his run for president but is listed as one of its attorneys in the lawsuit.

UCF advances to semifinals of Big 12 Baseball Championship

South Florida Local News - Thu, 05/23/2024 - 23:09

Pinch hitter AJ Nessler’s RBI single in the top of the 11th inning helped UCF push past Oklahoma State, 7-6. and advance into the semifinals of the Big 12 Baseball Championship on Friday in Arlington, Texas.

The Knights (35-18) will face the winner of Texas Tech-Oklahoma State (5 p.m., ESPN+) in the semifinals (8:30 p.m., ESPN+).

The No. 2 seed Cowboys (37-17) jumped on starter Ben Vespi early with two runs before the Knights got their first out in the bottom of the first inning. OSU added two more runs on a sacrifice fly by first baseman Colin Brueggemann and a sacrifice bunt by shortstop Lane Forsythe.

The game took a dramatic turn, however, as UCF swiftly responded at the top of the second. Oklahoma State starter Brennan Phillips hit catcher Danny Neri to start the inning and issued back-to-back walks to centerfielder Andrew Williamson and third baseman Braden Calise, setting the stage for a thrilling comeback.

UCF’s Danny Neri still riding high after home-run explosion in Big 12 Tournament

Cowboys coach Josh Holliday pulled Phillips after 35 pitches and replaced him with reliever Evan O’Toole, who threw consecutive wild pitches that scored two runs. Shortstop Mikey Kluska followed with an RBI double and first baseman Lex Boedicker had an RBI single to tie the score at 4.

Oklahoma State retook the lead when rightfielder Carson Benge homered in the bottom of the fifth inning to go up 5-4.

UCF took its first lead at the top of the seventh when designated hitter Matt Cedarburg crushed a 2-0 pitch into the leftfield bleachers for a 2-run homer to put the Knights ahead, 6-5.

Tyler Wulfert’s RBI double helped the Cowboys tie the score in the bottom of the eighth inning.

Nessler’s hit in the top of the 11th came with two outs and scored second baseman Andrew Brait from second.

Reliever Dominic Castellano (6-0) pitched two innings in relief to get the win for the Knights, while Gabe Davis (1-4) took the loss for Oklahoma State.

UCF’s chances of making the 64-team NCAA tournament field appear to be promising, with the Knights entering Thursday’s game with an RPI of 38. This puts Rich Wallace’s team in a strong position, as it is projected as a third seed in the latest NCAA tourney projections by D1Baseball.

Matt Murschel can be reached at mmurschel@orlandosentinel.com

Brito homers twice as Oklahoma pounds FSU softball in opener of Norman Super Regional

South Florida Local News - Thu, 05/23/2024 - 21:17

NORMAN, Okla. — Alyssa Brito hit two home runs, giving second-seeded Oklahoma the lead for good with a leadoff shot in the bottom of the third inning, and the Sooners breezed to a five-inning 11-3 run-rule victory over Florida State on Thursday night to begin the Norman Super Regional.

Oklahoma (53-6) can finish off a sweep of Florida State (45-15) with a win on Friday.

The Sooners grabbed a 1-0 lead two batters into the bottom of the first on a home run by Tiare Jennings.

Rylie Boone was hit by a pitch leading off the second and Alynah Torres following with a run-scoring double for a 2-0 lead.

The Seminoles pulled even in the top of the third on a two-out, two-run single by Devyn Flaherty.

Brito, who doubled her first time up, homered to left field on a 3-0 pitch in the bottom of the inning and Oklahoma never trailed again. An error on a sacrifice bunt attempt by Boone pushed across the second run in the inning and Torres made it 5-2 with an RBI ground out.

Oklahoma broke the game open with a five-run fourth. Ella Parker singled with one out, stole second, and scored on Brito’s home run. Kasidi Pickering followed with a walk and scored on a two-run homer by Kinzie Hansen.

Cydney Sanders drove in Boone with a single to make it 10-2, bringing the eight-run rule after five innings into play. Hansen’s home run was the Sooners’ 109th of the season, trailing only the 160 of Miami (Ohio) and Virginia Tech’s 115.

Jahni Kerr kept Florida State alive with a two-out RBI single in the top of the fifth, but Madi Balk issued four walks in the bottom half — the final one to Pickering — to force in the mercy-rule run.

It was the 20th win of the season for the Sooners’ Kelly Maxwell (20-2), who allowed three runs on four hits and six walks while striking out three.

Ashtyn Danley (18-6) took the loss for the Seminoles. She allowed five runs — three earned — on six hits and three walks in two innings of work.

Daily Horoscope for May 24, 2024

South Florida Local News - Thu, 05/23/2024 - 21:00
General Daily Insight for May 24, 2024

We’re not likely to get everything we want right now. While the indulgent Sagittarius Moon squares gloomy Saturn, people might not be in the mood to hear out a grand idea for a good time. That said, there’s no need to dwell endlessly on what we can’t have. As Luna then trines athletic Mars at 2:36 pm EDT, we could be successful if we channel our enthusiasm into productive work. When the Moon finally trines rejuvenating Chiron, seeing this unfold may be healing!

Aries

March 21 – April 19

You’re likely to be passionate to a fault regarding your beliefs today. As the devoted Moon in your philosophical 9th house squares discerning Saturn in your 12th House of Secrets, perhaps you have a few private doubts that you’re trying to get rid of. You’re not required to admit this struggle to anyone else — many probably wouldn’t respond in a way you find beneficial. Of course, you don’t need to take your inner turmoil out on the people around you either.

Taurus

April 20 – May 20

Feeling judged by your peers is a risk at the moment. However, you might not be reading the situation accurately. During the clash between the impressionable Moon in your 8th House of Sharing and strict Saturn in your social 11th house, your grip on boundaries isn’t the strongest. If you’re unhappy with yourself, sometimes it’s hard to admit that — you may find it easier to imagine that the harsh attitude is coming from someone else. Look within before you blame others for your upset.

Gemini

May 21 – June 20

An authority figure might seem to be out to get you today. Your peers could give you some helpful advice regarding how to handle this challenge. Nevertheless, they aren’t guaranteed to tell you exactly what you want to hear. Perhaps they’ll point out ways that you’ve contributed to your current state of affairs. Although you may prefer the comfort of seeing yourself as a blameless victim, accepting responsibility has its advantages — it means you have the power to do something about your situation!

Cancer

June 21 – July 22

Your beliefs regarding work and duty could be running you ragged at present. As the fretful Moon in your responsible 6th house trines driven Mars in your ambitious 10th house, you might try to triage your to-do list by asking yourself which tasks actually bring you closer to your major goals. You’re accountable for taking care of significant commitments you’ve personally made. However, following certain expectations imposed by tradition may not be realistic under today’s circumstances. Make an effort to live in the present.

Leo

July 23 – August 22

The emotional connection you crave could be hard to come by in this moment. As the vulnerable Moon in your expressive 5th house bothers repressive Saturn in your intimacy zone, someone you’d hoped to have a heart-to-heart with might not be in the mood. Going off on a solo adventure can give you something fun to do while you wait for them to come around. In the meantime, you may gain a clearer view of your internal perspective on the situation!

Virgo

August 23 – September 22

You may currently feel misunderstood by someone close to you. Regardless of what they’ve done, you might benefit from looking critically at your expectations. If you wanted them to just know you needed something without you saying so, it makes sense that you’d wind up disappointed. As the delicate Moon in your sensitive 4th house aligns with courageous Mars in your sharing sector, consider taking the risk of stating your longings clearly. That way, you’ll have a chance to get the outcome you’re hoping for!

Libra

September 23 – October 22

You probably don’t want to be distracted by frivolous stuff today. As you make your way through a full to-do list, excess chatter could really get on your nerves. Then again, as the perceptive Moon in your conversation zone stimulates passionate Mars in your relationship sector, taking a break from your tasks might be worthwhile if the right opportunity to connect presents itself. You’re going places, and joining forces with others who have similar energy can help you reach your goals more quickly!

Scorpio

October 23 – November 21

Pursuing financial stability could be a high priority for you now. While the anxious Moon in your money zone agitates serious Saturn in your 5th House of Pleasure, you may be compelled to turn down a fun impulse purchase that doesn’t fit into your budget. Although this might be a disappointing experience in the moment, do your best to consider it as motivation to work toward change. Put in effort to increase your income — that way, you’ll eventually have more to spare.

Sagittarius

November 22 – December 21

Being disappointed with your home or family life is currently a risk. While the sensitive Moon in your sign conflicts with stern Saturn in your domestic 4th house, you may feel like you deserve better than the treatment you’re getting. Even if that’s true, you probably can’t force other people to do the right thing. Focusing on the fun you can make for yourself is a much more solid bet at this point. Your inner child could love this kind of nurturing!

Capricorn

December 22 – January 19

Keeping your thoughts to yourself might be wise at this time. As the attentive Moon in your contemplative 12th house supports wounded Chiron in your 4th House of Roots, you may be chewing on difficult events that happened in your early life. Others could be in a hurry to make you feel better given the opportunity, but maybe that’s not what you need. Ultimately, you must come to your own conclusions about your past. You can reach valuable insights if you put in the effort.

Aquarius

January 20 – February 18

A friend could trigger your self-worth issues without warning. Although they might not mean anything by a passing comment, it won’t necessarily take much to set you off if you’re already feeling insecure — perhaps they don’t have to say anything at all! As the caring Moon in your social sector harmonizes with tender Chiron in your communication zone, telling them what you’re dealing with may be worth the trouble. You should encounter fewer problems when each side knows where the other is coming from.

Pisces

February 19 – March 20

Your efforts to push toward a major goal might make you look meaner than you intended today. You’re probably not trying to hurt anyone — you just want to get things done. You may not be able to protect everyone’s feelings to the extent that you’d prefer, so you’re possibly better off focusing on what you can accomplish. If you eventually wind up with a material achievement to show for yourself, people will potentially understand why you handled things the way you did.

Did Georgia’s Kirby Smart convince Jaden Rashada to sue UF’s Billy Napier? | Commentary

South Florida Local News - Thu, 05/23/2024 - 17:30

Running off at the typewriter. …

There are some of my Gator conspiracy theorist buddies who are actually convinced that Jaden Rashada suing University of Florida football coach Billy Napier and UF’s heavyweight sugar daddy booster Hugh Hathcock for NIL fraud is all being orchestrated by Georgia coach Kirby Smart as a way to get Napier fired.

Really, guys?

Seriously?

Personally, I think it’s just a massive coincidence that Rashada, the much-traveled California quarterback, filed the lawsuit just three weeks after transferring from Arizona State to Georgia. First and foremost, it takes more than a couple of weeks to hire heavy-hitting attorney Rusty Hardin and have him draw up and file a groundbreaking lawsuit of this magnitude.

Secondly, why in the world would Smart want to get Napier fired when his Bulldogs are pulverizing the Gators without even breaking a sweat? Let’s face it, Smart’s program is the Mona Lisa while Napier’s program is little Johnny’s kindergarten finger painting taped to the front of the refrigerator door.

Smart should be trying to save Napier’s job; not eliminate it.

And make no mistake about it, this lawsuit is bound to have an adverse effect on Napier’s ability to recruit big-time players. How much of an effect remains to be seen, but we all know opposing coaches will undoubtedly use Rashada’s claims against Florida on the recruiting trail.

Imagine if a 5-star QB recruit named Rex Longbomb is trying to decide between Florida and Florida State and the schools are offering essentially the same amount of NIL money. All FSU coach Mike Norvell has to tell the recruit is: “Hey, Rexy, I can assure you you’ll get every penny of what we’re offering once you sign with the Seminoles. Do you really want to go to a place where they renege on their NIL deals?”

In short, this is the last thing the already-embattled Napier needs as he fights to keep his job over the next couple of seasons.

Not only does he have to face powerhouse programs such as Georgia, FSU and Texas on the field of play this season, he has to battle a heavyweight, media-savvy attorney in a court of law. …

Short stuff: Kansas City Chiefs kicker Archie Bunker, er, Harrison Butker has been embroiled in controversy after recent comments he made during a commencement address at Benedictine College in which he intimated that the female graduates should most be looking forward to the “vocation of homemaker.” Coming soon: Butker stresses to women college grads that they must learn other important skills such as “churning butter” and “canning fruits and vegetables..” … Don’t laugh, but I think boring, goody-two-shoes golfer Scottie Scheffler’s incident with a traffic cop in Louisville actually gave him some street cred. In fact, maybe he needs a new hip-hop nickname: How about “Notorious P.G.A.”? . …

Wait a minute, I thought Caitlin Clark was drafted by the Indiana Fever, not the Washington Generals. … Did you see where the Cleveland Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff got fired despite the Cavs winning a playoff series (against the Magic) for the first time in six seasons? For the most part, NBA coaches are treated like rolls of toilet paper. They deal with a bunch of crap and get quickly used up until there’s nothing left but the cardboard tube and then they get replaced by a fresh new roll. … Three questions: (1) Who will win the NBA championship? (2) Who will be Donald Trump’s running mate? (3) Who Let the Dogs Out? …

Hey, l I have nothing against Tua Tagovailoa and Trevor Lawrence, but why do the Dolphins and Jaguars think they need to sign these quarterbacks to lucrative, long-term deals when they still have years left on their rookie contracts? Let these guys go out this year and prove they truly are elite-level quarterbacks before you give them Patrick Mahomes money. Go ahead and call me an old-school fiscal conservative if you want, but I want to know exactly what I’m getting before I pay for it. … I still don’t quite understand this groundbreaking House vs. NCAA lawsuit in which the NCAA is getting ready to settle for $2.7 billion in reimbursements for past athletes who weren’t allowed to be compensated for NIL. I think I’m going to file a lawsuit against the Florida Highway Patrol for reimbursement involving all of the past traffic tickets I got on the interstate when the speed limit was 55 instead of 70. I want my money back. …

Can you believe NASCAR gave Ricky Stenhouse Jr. a record $75,000 fine for throwing a punch at Kyle Busch and starting a melee in the pits last week? Has NASCAR forgotten its roots; forgotten that it is a sport built on fighting? When Cale Yarborough and the Allison Brothers got into a fist fight on the infield at the crash-marred end of the 1979 Daytona 500, it became the most iconic moment in the sport’s history and was largely responsible for helping to popularize the sport nationally. In other words, Stenhouse shouldn’t be penalized, he should be praised. NASCAR fans haven’t been this excited since the invention of the beer huggie. …  A moment of silence, please, Oakland Raiders legend Jim Otto has just gone to That Big Black Hole in the Sky. …

Last word: As we head into the barbecuing and beach going of Memorial Day weekend, let us remember this quote: “Our flag does not fly because the wind moves it. It flies with the last breath of each soldier who died protecting it.” — Unknown

Judge revisits ruling that blocked Florida from criminalizing transport of immigrants

South Florida Local News - Thu, 05/23/2024 - 16:56

A day after blocking part of a state law aimed at cracking down on illegal immigration, a federal judge Thursday appeared to have second thoughts about the scope of a preliminary injunction he issued.

U.S. District Judge Roy Altman initially applied the injunction statewide. But he issued an order Thursday that partially quoted an Arkansas case and said on “further reflection, and given the ‘national conversation taking place in both the legal academy and the judiciary concerning the propriety of courts using universal injunctions as a matter of preliminary relief,’ we now invite further briefing on the proper scope of the injunction.”

Altman, who was appointed as a judge in the federal Southern District of Florida in 2018 by former President Donald Trump, ordered attorneys for the plaintiffs and the state to file briefs by June 6 on whether the injunction should apply to plaintiffs who have established legal standing; all plaintiffs who remain in the case; throughout the Southern District; or statewide.

The lawsuit, filed in July by The Farmworker Association of Florida, Inc. and individual plaintiffs, centers on part of a 2023 state law (SB 1718) that threatens felony charges for people who transport an immigrant who “entered the United States in violation of law and has not been inspected by the federal government since his or her unlawful entry.”

Judge blocks Florida from criminalizing transport of immigrants

In issuing the preliminary injunction Wednesday, Altman cited previous federal court rulings that he said consistently established immigration is a matter governed by federal — not state — law.

“By making it a felony to transport into Florida someone who ‘has not been inspected by the federal government since his or her unlawful entry,’ Section 10 (the disputed section of the law) extends beyond the state’s authority to make arrests for violations of federal immigration law and, in so doing, intrudes into territory that’s preempted,” Altman wrote.

The law is among a number of steps DeSantis and the GOP-controlled Florida Legislature have taken in recent years targeting undocumented immigrants.

NCAA, leagues back $2.8 billion settlement, setting stage for current, former athletes to be paid

South Florida Local News - Thu, 05/23/2024 - 16:48

By RALPH D. RUSSO (AP College Football Writer)

The NCAA and the nation’s five biggest conferences announced Thursday night that they have agreed to pay nearly $2.8 billion to settle a host of antitrust claims, a monumental decision that sets the stage for a groundbreaking revenue-sharing model that could start steering millions of dollars directly to athletes as soon as the 2025 fall semester.

NCAA President Charlie Baker along with the commissioners of the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and Southeastern Conference released a joint statement saying they had agreed to settlement terms. They called the move “an important step in the continuing reform of college sports that will provide benefits to student-athletes and provide clarity in college athletics across all divisions for years to come.”

Terms were not disclosed, though some details have emerged in the past few weeks. They signal the end of the NCAA’s bedrock amateurism model that dates to its founding in 1906. Indeed, the days of NCAA punishment for athletes driving booster-provided cars started vanishing three years ago when the organization lifted restrictions on endorsement deals backed by so-called name, image and likeness money.

The deal still must be approved by the federal judge overseeing the case and plaintiffs will have the opportunity to opt out or challenge terms of the agreement. If it stands, it will usher in the beginning of a new era in college sports where athletes are compensated more like professionals and schools can compete for talent using direct payments.

“There’s no question about it. It’s a huge quantum leap,” said Tom McMillen, the former Maryland basketball player and congressman who has led an association of collegiate athletic directors the past eight years.

Now it is not far-fetched to look ahead to seasons where star quarterbacks or top prospects on college basketball teams are not only cashing in big-money NIL deals but have six-figure school payments in the bank to play.

“This landmark settlement will bring college sports into the 21st century, with college athletes finally able to receive a fair share of the billions of dollars of revenue that they generate for their schools,” said Steve Berman, one of the lead attorneys for the plaintiffs. “Our clients are the bedrock of the NCAA’s multibillion-dollar business and finally can be compensated in an equitable and just manner for their extraordinary athletic talents.”

There are a host of details still to be determined, but the agreement calls for the NCAA and the conferences to pay $2.77 billion over 10 years to more than 14,000 former and current college athletes who say now-defunct rules prevented them from earning money from endorsement and sponsorship deals dating to 2016.

“Even though it was only because of the overwhelming legal pressure, the NCAA, conferences and schools are agreeing that college athletes should be paid,” said Ramogi Huma, a former UCLA football player and longtime advocate for college athletes. “And there’s no going back from there. That’s truly groundbreaking.”

Some of the money will come from NCAA reserve funds and insurance but even though the lawsuit specifically targeted five conferences that are comprised of 69 schools (including Notre Dame), dozens of other NCAA member schools will see smaller distributions from the NCAA to cover the mammoth payout.

Schools in the Big Ten, Big 12, ACC and SEC are likely to end up bearing the brunt of the settlement going forward at an estimated cost of about $300 million each over 10 years, the majority of which would be paid to directly to athletes.

“The settlement, though undesirable in many respects and promising only temporary stability, is necessary to avoid what would be the bankruptcy of college athletics,” said Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins.

PAYING ATHLETES

In the new compensation model, each school will be permitted but not required to set aside up to $21 million in revenue to share with athletes per year, though as revenues rise so could the cap.

Athletes in all sports would be eligible for payments and schools would be given the freedom to decide how that money is divvied up among sports programs. Scholarship limits by sport will be replaced by roster restrictions.

Whether the new compensation model is subject to the Title IX gender equity law is unknown along with whether schools will be able to bring NIL activities in-house as they hope and squeeze out the booster-run collectives that have sprouted up in the last few years to pay athletes. Both topics could lead to more lawsuits.

THE CASE

The class-action federal lawsuit at the center of the settlement, House v. the NCAA, was set to go to trial in January. The complaint, brought by former Arizona State swimmer Grant House and Sedona Prince, a former Oregon and current TCU basketball player, said the NCAA, along with the five wealthiest conferences, improperly barred athletes from earning endorsement money.

The suit also argued that athletes were entitled to a piece of the billions of dollars the NCAA and those conferences earn from media rights agreements with television networks.

Amid political and public pressure, and facing the prospect of another court loss that some in college sports claimed could reach $20 billion in damages, NCAA and conference officials conceded on what has long been a core principal of the enterprise: that schools don’t directly pay the athletes to play beyond a scholarship.

That principle has been dented numerous times over the last decade. Notably, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled against the NCAA in 2021 in a case related to education-related benefits.

The narrow focus of the Alston case didn’t collapse the collegiate sports system, but the strong rebuke of the NCAA’s model of amateurism flung the door open to more lawsuits. Justice Brett Kavanaugh, a former Yale athlete, put it bluntly: “The bottom line is that the NCAA and its member colleges are suppressing the pay of student athletes who collectively generate billions of dollars in revenues for colleges every year.”

THE OTHER CASES

The settlement is expected to cover two other antitrust cases facing the NCAA and major conferences that challenge athlete compensation rules. Hubbard vs. the NCAA and Carter vs. the NCAA are also currently in front of judges in the Northern District of California.

A fourth case, Fontenot vs, NCAA, creates a potential complication as it remains in a Colorado court after a judge denied a request to combine it with Carter. Whether Fontenot becomes part of the settlement is unknown and it matters because the NCAA and its conferences don’t want to be on the hook for more damages should they lose in court.

“We’re going to continue to litigate our case in Colorado and look forward to hearing about the terms of a settlement proposal once they’re actually released and put in front of a court,” said George Zelcs, a plaintiffs’ attorney in Fontenot.

COLLEGE ATHLETICS OVERHAUL

The solution agreed to in the settlement is landmark, but not surprising. College sports has been trending in this direction for years, with athletes receiving more and more monetary benefits and rights they say were long overdue.

In December, Baker, the former Massachusetts governor who has been on the job for 14 months, proposed creating a new tier of Division I athletics where the schools with the most resources would be required to pay at least half their athletes $30,000 per year. That suggestion, along with many other possibilities, remain under discussion.

The settlement does not make every issue facing college sports go away. There is still a question of whether athletes should be deemed employees of their schools, something Baker and other college sports leaders are fighting against.

Some type of federal legislation or antitrust exemption is likely still needed to codify the terms of the settlement, protect the NCAA from future litigation and pre-empt state laws that attempt to neuter the organization’s authority. As it is, the NCAA is still facing lawsuits that challenge its ability to govern itself, including setting rules limiting multiple-time transfers.

“This settlement is also a road map for college sports leaders and Congress to ensure this uniquely American institution can continue to provide unmatched opportunity for millions of students,” the joint statement said. “All of Division I made today’s progress possible, and we all have work to do to implement the terms of the agreement as the legal process continues. We look forward to working with our various student-athlete leadership groups to write the next chapter of college sports.”

Federal lawmakers have indicated they would like to get something done, but while several bills have been introduced, none has gone anywhere.

Despite the unanswered questions, one thing is clear: Major college athletics is about to become more like professional sports than ever before.

___

Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at http://www.appodcasts.com

___

AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football

The NCAA and nation’s five largest college sports conferences agree to settle antitrust litigation for nearly $2.8 billion

South Florida Local News - Thu, 05/23/2024 - 16:44

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The NCAA and the nation’s five biggest conferences have agreed to pay nearly $2.8 billion to settle a host of antitrust claims, a monumental decision that sets the stage for a groundbreaking revenue-sharing model that could start directing millions of dollars directly to athletes as soon as the 2025 fall semester.

The deal still must be approved by the federal judge overseeing the case and challenges could arise, but if the agreement stands it will mark the beginning of a new era in college sports where athletes are compensated more like professionals and schools can compete for talent using direct payments.

“There’s no question about it. It’s a huge quantum leap,” said Tom McMillen, the former Maryland basketball player and congressman who led a group of collegiate athletic directors the past year years.

The Pac-12 was the final conference to sign off when university leaders voted Thursday to approve the plan, according to a person with direct knowledge of the decision. Southeastern Conference school leaders unanimously approved the deal a few hours earlier, a second person with knowledge of that decision said. Both spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because an coordinated announcement among the Pac-12, SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, Atlantic Coast Conference and NCAA was still being prepared. All met a Thursday deadline set by plaintiffs’ attorneys.

The details in the plan signal the end of the NCAA’s bedrock amateurism model that dates to its founding in 1906. Indeed, the days of NCAA punishments for athletes driving booster-provided cars started vanishing three years ago when the organization lifted restrictions on endorsement deals backed by so-called name, image and likeness money.

Now it is not far-fetched to look ahead to seasons where a star quarterback or top prospect on a college basketball team are not only cashing in big-money NIL deals but have a $100,000 school payment in the bank to play.

There are a host of details still to be determined, but the agreement calls for the NCAA and the conferences to pay $2.77 billion over 10 years to more than 14,000 former and current college athletes who say now-defunct rules prevented them from earning money from endorsement and sponsorship deals dating to 2016.

“Even though it was only because of the overwhelming legal pressure, the NCAA, conferences and schools are agreeing that college athletes should be paid,” said Ramogi Huma, a former UCLA football player and longtime advocate for college athletes. “And there’s no going back from there. That’s truly groundbreaking.”

Some of the money will come from NCAA reserve funds and insurance but even though the lawsuit specifically targeted five conferences that are comprised of 69 schools (including Notre Dame), dozens of other NCAA member schools will see smaller distributions from the NCAA to cover the mammoth payout.

Schools in the Big Ten, Big 12, Atlantic Coast and Southeastern conferences will end up bearing the brunt of the settlement at a cost of about $300 million each over 10 years, the majority of which will be paid to athletes going forward.

The Pac-12 is also part of the settlement, with all 12 sharing responsibility even though Washington State and Oregon State will be the only league members left by this fall after the other 10 schools leave.

PAYING ATHLETES
In the new compensation model, each school will be permitted but not required to set aside up to $21 million in revenue to share with athletes per year, though as revenues rise so could the cap.

Athletes in all sports would be eligible for payments and schools would be given the freedom to decide how that money is divvied up among sports programs. Scholarship limits by sport will be replaced by roster restrictions.

Whether the new compensation model is subject to the Title IX gender equity law is unknown along with whether schools will be able to bring NIL activities in-house as they hope and squeeze out the booster-run collectives that have sprouted up in the last few years to pay athletes. Both topics could lead to more lawsuits.

THE CASE
The class-action federal lawsuit at the center of the settlement, House v. the NCAA, was set to go to trial in January. The complaint, brought by former Arizona State swimmer Grant House and Sedona Prince, a former Oregon and current TCU basketball player, said the NCAA, along with the five wealthiest conferences, improperly barred athletes from earning endorsement money.

The suit also made the case that athletes were entitled to a piece of the billions of dollars the NCAA and those conferences earn from media rights agreements with television networks.

Amid political and public pressure, and facing the prospect of another court loss that some in college sports claimed could reach $20 billion in damages, NCAA and conference officials conceded on what has long been a core principal of the enterprise: That schools don’t directly pay the athletes to play beyond a scholarship.

That principle had already been dented numerous times over the last decade.

Notably, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled against the NCAA in 2021 in a case related to education-related benefits. The narrow focus of the Alston case didn’t collapse the collegiate sports system, but the strong rebuke of the NCAA’s model of amateurism flung the door open to more lawsuits. Justice Brett Kavanaugh, a former Yale athlete, put it bluntly: “The bottom line is that the NCAA and its member colleges are suppressing the pay of student athletes who collectively generate billions of dollars in revenues for colleges every year.”

THE OTHER CASES
The settlement is expected to cover two other antitrust cases facing the NCAA and major conferences that challenge athlete compensation rules. Hubbard vs. the NCAA and Carter vs. the NCAA are also currently in front of judges in the Northern District of California.

A fourth case, Fontenot vs, NCAA, creates a potential complication as it remains in a Colorado court after a judge denied a request to combine it with Carter. Whether Fontenot becomes part of the settlement is unknown and it matters because the NCAA and its conferences don’t want to be on the hook for more damages should they lose in court.

“We’re going to continue to litigate our case in Colorado and look forward to hearing about the terms of a settlement proposal once they’re actually released and put in front of a court,” said George Zelcs, a plaintiffs’ attorney in Fontenot.

COLLEGE ATHLETICS OVERHAUL
The solution agreed to in the settlement is landmark, but not surprising. College sports has been trending in this direction for years, with athletes receiving more and more monetary benefits and rights they say were long overdue.

In December, NCAA President Charlie Baker, the former Massachusetts governor who has been on the job for 14 months, proposed creating a new tier of Division I athletics where the schools with the most resources would be required to pay at least half their athletes $30,000 per year. That suggestion, along with many other possibilities, remain under discussion.

The settlement does not make every issue facing college sports go away. There is still a question of whether athletes should be deemed employees of their schools, something Baker and other college sports leaders are fighting against.

Some type of federal legislation or antitrust exemption is likely still needed to codify the terms of the settlement, protect the NCAA from future litigation and pre-empt state laws that attempt to neuter the organization’s authority. As it is, the NCAA is still facing lawsuits that challenge its ability to govern itself, including setting rules limiting multiple-time transfers.

Federal lawmakers have indicated they would like to get something done, but while several bills have been introduced none have gone anywhere.

Despite the unanswered questions, one thing is clear: Major college athletics is about to become more like professional sports than ever before.

___

Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at http://www.appodcasts.com

Gators follow slugging shortstop Skylar Wallace’s lead into NCAA Super Regional

South Florida Local News - Thu, 05/23/2024 - 16:05

GAINESVILLE – Florida fifth-year senior Skylar Wallace is on a postseason tear at the plate with no end in sight, just when her team needed her most.

First, the All-American shortstop had to stare into an abyss she and her coach never saw coming.

Wallace searched for answers, lost confidence and even shed tears during an April slump that left the Gators without their leader entering a pivotal SEC stretch.

“No one wants to go through that,” Wallace, 24, said. “But it’s part of the game. It was meant to happen for some reason and led me to where I am now.”

Led by Wallace, the hard-charging Gators are two wins away from reaching the Women’s College World Series. Fourth-seeded UF (49-12) will host unseeded Baylor (35-20) beginning at noon Friday during one of eight best two-out-of-three NCAA Super Regionals.

UF All-American shortstop Skylar Wallace leads the Gators with 85 runs, 34 stolen bases and is second with 14 home runs and a batting average of .412. (Courtesy of UF’s University Athletic Association)

After falling in NCAA Regionals in 2023, coach Tim Walton’s program seeks its 12th trip to the WCWS since ’08, with its first with a chance to push for the title in some time.

“The work ethic has changed — the off-the-field, on-your-own, unrequired work ethic,” Walton said. “That’s what it takes to become a championship-level team. It takes a special athlete to get to the next level … doing things coach didn’t ask you to do.

“This team has a lot of that.”

Wallace has gone the extra mile ever since sitting out 2021 after she transferred from Alabama.

After one of the best seasons in school history, she wanted to be even better and worked even harder, pushing to win USA Softball Player of the Year after falling short as one of three finalists in ’23.

“I just think she was trying way too hard,” Walton said.

Coach Tim Walton aims to lead the Gators to their 12th Women’s College World Series during their 15th NCAA Super Regional. (Gary McCullough/AP)

The veteran coach and two-time national champion could sense something was amiss during the third game of a series against LSU.

During a Monday game on April 8, Wallace was 0 of 4 to finish the weekend 1 of 10 against the Tigers.

“[It] was the only time in my mind that she really was just not herself at all,” Walton said. “She started swinging at bad pitches. It wasn’t her.”

From there, things snowballed.

The harder Wallace pushed, the deeper she sank, leaving her 5 of 29 for the month.

Teammates were at a loss, too.

“It’s a deep, dark hole,” centerfielder Kendra Falby said. “You don’t want anyone to do through it. All we could do was feel for her.”

Now the Gators are following Wallace’s lead again.

She rides an 11-game hitting streak and has 16 RBI, with 4 home runs, during five postseason games. She has raised her batting average to .412 after seeing it dip to .368 on May 1.

“It was never an if, it was a when,” left fielder Korbe Otis said.

While Wallace’s recent surge has ignited the Gators, she, Otis and the entire lineup carry a sense of inevitability into Super Regionals.

Otis, a junior who transferred from Louisville, is hitting .463 to put her on pace to break Wallace’s school-record .443 set last season.

SEC Player of the Year Jocelyn Erickson, an Oklahoma transfer, is 3 RBI shy of Megan Bush’s record 81 in 2011, even if 19-year-old sophomore catcher from Phoenix is oblivious to the fact.

“I’m just trying to get as many as I possibly can,” she said.

Florida catcher Jocelyn Erickson is 3 RBI shy of the school-record 81 after transferring from Oklahoma for her sophomore season. (Courtesy of UF’s University Athletic Association)

Erickson said knocking in runs is easy with Falby, who leads UF with 84 hits, Wallace, the team leader with 85 runs and 34 steals, and Otis batting ahead of her.

“They’re always on base,” Erickson said. “And they’re freaking fast. If they’re on first base, they’ll score.”

With Reagan Walsh (team-high 16 home runs) up next followed by freshman phenom Ava Brown (13 homers), opposing pitchers rarely get a breather.

“It’s really awesome to play with,” Otis said. “It has to be fun to watch for our fans. If anything, it’s a relief. If I’m not getting it done, I know the people behind me are going to get it done.”

Leftfielder Korbe Otis, a Louisville transfer, is among 10 finalists for USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year who leads the Gators with a .467 batting average. (Courtesy of UF’s University Athletic Association)

Wallace has led the way with a postseason performance a 180-degree turn from the end of her record-setting 2023 season. 

After hitting pretty much everything to set school records for batting average and slugging percentage, she finally hit a wall to finish 2 of 13 during five postseason games, including 1 of 9 in losses.

Struggles and slumps don’t last for long with Wallace.

“I have my standards,” she said. “I’m super competitive. I never want to see myself fail and never want to see my teammates fail.”

Gainesville Super Regional

Game 1: Florida vs. Baylor

When: Friday, noon

TV: ESPN2

Game 2

When: Saturday, 11 a.m.

TV: TBD

Game 3 (if necessary)

When: Sunday, TBD

TV: TBD

Edgar Thompson can be reached at egthompson@orlandosentinel.com

Cardinal Gibbons wins first state baseball title since 1980s, North Broward Prep gets third in four years

South Florida Local News - Thu, 05/23/2024 - 15:16

The last time Cardinal Gibbons’ baseball team won a state championship, coach Jason Hamilton was a 12-year-old seventh grader at Sunrise Middle School.

Now, 37 years later, the albatross has been lifted as the Chiefs received a dominant pitching performance from junior Brenden Trujillo to top Santa Rosa Beach South Walton 4-1 to win the Class 4A state championship at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers.

“My dad was a high school baseball coach, so I was kind of born into this,” Hamilton said by phone. “I have been doing this since I was born and there is a lot of hard work and dedication that went into this, and many years of preparation and great teams, and great families here at Gibbons. Brenden was fantastic and the entire team and community contributed to this win.”

“That foundation built this moment,” said Hamilton who received more than 380 texts and phone calls leading up to and following the game. “It was a workmanlike group. We start four freshmen. It was a great mix of older kids mentoring the young kids. Not one moment on this run was too big and that is a testament to their character.”

Hamilton’s teams reached the final four in 2019, losing 6-3 in eight innings to Melbourne Central Catholic. The 2020 team was also special, starting off the year 9-1, Hamilton noted, but COVID cost them a chance to finish out the year and make a run at the state championship.

Trujillo tossed a two-hitter and allowed just one unearned run in the top of the seventh inning. He walked three, hit a batter, and struck out seven and he faced 25 batters, just four over the minimum, as the Chiefs finished the year on a 14-game winning streak.

Cardinal Gibbons (25-4-2) jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the second inning to take command. Bryce Faison led off the second with a walk and one out later George Stringos and Victor Norori both singled to load the bases. Two wild pitches later, and a fielder’s choice made it 3-0 before Jason Vazquez lined an RBI single to left to up the margin to 4-0.

Vazquez went 2 for 4, while Stingos and Norori each were 1 for 2, with a walk and a run scored. Cardinal Gibbons got all of its runs in the bottom of the second and Trujillo did the rest.

“It definitely meant a lot being able to come here with a great team and being able to win,” Trujillo said by phone. “Getting that early lead definitely helped me relax. My changeup was working, and I just took it one pitch at a time. It was an amazing feeling, especially being at the bottom of the dogpile.”

North Broward Prep wins third state championship in four years

North Broward senior Gian De Castro was downright giddy after he and his Eagles teammates completed a four-year run that saw them win three of four state championships, finishing with a playoff record of 27-1.

The lone loss, coming at the hands of Clearwater Calvary Christian in last year’s title game, was put far in the rearview mirror with a 5-4 win over the Warriors that closed out a Class 3A state championship at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers.

“A lot of work has gone into this and I’m just really, really proud of them and being their coach,” said North Broward coach Brian Campbell by phone. “It means everything, especially for this senior class that has been a part of this four-year run, They have played in the state finals all four years, which is pretty special.

“To lose last year, it was their goal and mission to come back to Fort Myers and win this year and I am most proud of that,” said Campbell, whose team fell in the state semifinals in 2011 and 2014. “They are winners, and grinders and got the job done. They are always together in class, at practice, and outside of school. They are truly brothers.”

UF commit Mateo Gray got things going for the Eagles (28-3) with a two-run home run in the bottom of the first inning. After Westminster Christian (25-5) cut the lead in the top of the third, Gray had a sacrifice fly to make it 3-1.

De Castro, an Arizona State commit, said the team has been like brothers.

“It means everything, especially being with the boys since freshman year,” Castro said. “We have a great bond both on and off the field…just great chemistry. We got back what was taken from us last year. To leave with another ring after we battled through injuries all year long was great.”

Westminster Academy rallied to tie the game at 3-3 in the top of the sixth before the Eagles plated two runs on a 2-run single by Kiernan O’Neill to extend the lead to 5-3. Ethan Puig grounded out to short, scoring courtesy runner Ashton Jacomino to cut the lead to 5-4. Appalachian State commit Riley Luft had a key assist in the outfield as he cut down a runner at the plate in the seventh to preserve the win.

FAU commit TJ Gramesty was 2 for 4 with a run scored while fellow FAU commit Nik Koorse, pitched 5 1/3 innings, struck out four, and walked three.

North Broward Prep won their third state baseball championship in four years with a 5-4 win over Miami Westminster Christian in the Class 3A state title at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers. (North Broward Prep/Courtesy)

Tennessee attorney general looking into attempt to sell Graceland in foreclosure auction

South Florida Local News - Thu, 05/23/2024 - 14:58

By ADRIAN SAINZ (Associated Press)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee’s attorney general said Thursday that his office is looking into a company’s attempt to sell Elvis Presley’s home Graceland at a foreclosure auction, a move that was stopped by a judge after the king of rock n’ roll’s granddaughter filed a lawsuit claiming fraud.

Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti said in a news release that the beloved Memphis tourist attraction “became the target” of Nausanny Investments and Private Lending when it tried to sell the home-turned-museum based on claims that Presley’s daughter, Lisa Marie Presley, had failed to pay back a loan where Graceland was used as collateral.

Shelby County Chancellor JoeDae Jenkins issued an injunction Wednesday against the proposed auction, which had been scheduled for Thursday. Jenkins’ injunction essentially kept in place a previous restraining order issued at the request of Presley’s granddaughter Riley Keough.

Tennessee’s appointed attorney general can investigate and bring civil lawsuits, including in instances of alleged consumer fraud. But his authority in criminal court is significantly more limited, usually reserved for representing the state during appeals. Local district attorneys, who are elected, bring criminal cases.

“My office has fought fraud against homeowners for decades, and there is no home in Tennessee more beloved than Graceland,” Skrmetti, a Republican, said in the release. “I have asked my lawyers to look into this matter, determine the full extent of any misconduct that may have occurred, and identify what we can do to protect both Elvis Presley’s heirs and anyone else who may be similarly threatened.”

After the judge’s decision Wednesday, a statement from someone who appeared to be a representative of the company said it would drop its claim, which the Presley estate has argued was based on fake documents. Online court records did not immediately show any legal filings suggesting the claim had been dropped.

A public notice for a foreclosure sale of the 13-acre (5-hectare) estate posted earlier in May said Promenade Trust, which controls the Graceland museum, owes $3.8 million after failing to repay a 2018 loan. Keough, an actor, inherited the trust and ownership of the home after the death of her mother, Lisa Marie Presley, last year.

Naussany Investments and Private Lending said Lisa Marie Presley had used Graceland as collateral for the loan, according to the foreclosure sale notice. A lawsuit filed last week by Keough alleged that Naussany presented fraudulent documents regarding the loan in September 2023.

“Lisa Maria Presley never borrowed money from Naussany Investments and never gave a deed of trust to Naussany Investments,” Keough’s lawyer wrote in a lawsuit.

Naussany did file an unsuccessful motion denying the lawsuit’s allegations and opposing the estate’s request for an injunction. Nausanny did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment Thursday.

A statement emailed to The Associated Press after Wednesday’s ruling said Naussany would not proceed because a key document in the case and the loan were recorded and obtained in a different state, meaning that “legal action would have to be filed in multiple states.” The statement, which was sent from an email address listed in court documents, did not specify the other state.

“The company will be withdrawing all claims with prejudice,” the statement said.

The court documents included addresses for the company in Jacksonville, Florida, and Hollister, Missouri. Both were for post offices, and a Kimberling City, Missouri, reference was for a post office box. The business also is not listed in state databases of registered corporations in Missouri or Florida.

Kimberly Philbrick, the notary whose name is listed on Naussany’s documents, indicated that she never met Lisa Marie Presley nor notarized any documents for her, according to the estate’s lawsuit. The judge said the notary’s affidavit included in the lawsuit brings into question “the authenticity of the signature.”

Graceland opened as a museum and tourist attraction in 1982 as a tribute to Elvis Presley, the singer and actor who died in August 1977 at age 42. It draws hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. A large Presley-themed entertainment complex across the street from the museum is owned by Elvis Presley Enterprises.

“Graceland will continue to operate as it has for the past 42 years, ensuring that Elvis fans from around the world can continue to have the best in class experience when visiting his iconic home,” Elvis Presley Enterprises said in a statement.

___

Associated Press reporter Jonathan Mattise in Nashville, Tennessee, contributed.

Daily Horoscope for May 23, 2024

South Florida Local News - Wed, 05/22/2024 - 21:00
General Daily Insight for May 23, 2024

Passion will likely take precedence over structure today. Luscious Venus meets extravagant Jupiter at the very end of Taurus for a last burst of sensual pleasure, and then the unrestrained Full Moon in Sagittarius encourages emotional release. Venus goes on to enter gregarious Gemini at 4:30 pm EDT, inspiring us to renew our connections with one another. Finally, Jupiter sextiles spiritual Neptune, potentially creating an atmosphere where everything feels more meaningful than usual. We might as well seize any opportunities that arise!

Aries

March 21 – April 19

Talking to someone who can help you is both valuable and vulnerable. This person won’t necessarily keep you comfortable at every moment. Perhaps they’re a representative of a culture or belief system that’s very different from your own, and they’re not willing to simply smooth over substantial disagreements. Even so, this interaction could give you a useful opportunity to question your assumptions. Keep the viewpoints that are truly in line with your values, but shed any prejudices that are holding you back.

Taurus

April 20 – May 20

Finding your place in the collective could be an important priority at present. As money planet Venus moves into your 2nd House of Resources, you may feel more financially abundant than usual. You might become interested in sharing with people who are less fortunate. That being said, deciding how to do so isn’t always a simple process. Taking the necessary time to learn about the needs of your larger community can show you where your efforts will be the most useful.

Gemini

May 21 – June 20

Presenting yourself confidently is possible now. With attractive Venus sashaying into your sign, you aren’t likely to melt into the background. This could, at least temporarily, shake up the dynamic in one of your close relationships. Maybe it’ll be a relief to have the tension out in the open where you can see it instead of simmering constantly in the background. You don’t have to make yourself small, but you can try to discover the other person’s anxieties in order to avoid setting them off.

Cancer

June 21 – July 22

Your fantasy life could be a fun place at the moment. However, as the surprising Full Moon strikes in your practical 6th house, there are a few realistic possibilities lurking there. If there’s a specific subject that seems worth pursuing further, consider joining a group to study it together. Although you might not know where to start researching on your own, having more experienced people around should allow you to stay on track. Watching your dreams take shape should be excellent motivation too!

Leo

July 23 – August 22

Drifting into a situation with weak boundaries is presently possible. As amiable Venus enters your 11th House of Community, you can find opportunities to connect with others. The resulting group likely won’t have a rigid dynamic, and that’s not necessarily a good thing. In the absence of clear direction, it’s painfully easy for people to step on each other’s toes. No matter how close your emotions are to the surface, rein them in enough that you can stay aware of everyone else’s comfort level.

Virgo

August 23 – September 22

Support from an authority figure or powerful person might be right around the corner. Still, you don’t need to make yourself look totally helpless to gain their sympathy. With the intense Full Moon landing in your vulnerable 4th house, you may be tempted to pursue that strategy, but it has the potential to get you stuck in an unpleasant dynamic. Even if you’re not yet as successful as you’d like to be, focus on where you’re going rather than where you’ve been.

Libra

September 23 – October 22

You may currently be excited to pursue a pleasure trip or fun course of study. Unfortunately, telling everyone around you all the details of this plan might invite unwelcome opinions regarding your work and spending habits. People often make critical comments for reasons that are more about them than you. If you’re comfortable with your choices, you shouldn’t require their approval! Focus on thoroughly enjoying your individual path, and whoever truly needs to know what you’re doing will find out sooner or later.

Scorpio

October 23 – November 21

Help is potentially on the way. As fortunate Venus powers into your 8th House of Big Money, someone else might be willing to provide the resources you need to reach a major goal. You probably don’t want to drift into an arrangement that makes you dependent on them indefinitely, though. That’s not good for you financially or psychologically. Having a defined sense of what you hope to accomplish should keep things from dragging on too long, so set boundaries before you dive in.

Sagittarius

November 22 – December 21

Connecting with a companion is now likely to be extra exciting. With social Venus slipping into your partnership sector, you’re able to have fun one-on-one with another person. The relationship you build might also be helpful to you in some larger way. That said, being too vulnerable too soon could ruin the vibe. Although you may have a lot going on in your personal life, you’re probably strong enough to take care of it yourself. Avoid making it a group project at this point.

Capricorn

December 22 – January 19

You may be able to get away with taking it easy at the moment. Thanks to relaxed Venus sliding into your 6th House of Responsibilities, you have room to rest — you don’t have to be doing something productive every single second! You might be surprised by the thoughts that surface within you, given the opportunity. They won’t necessarily be totally logical, but they’re potentially brimming with creative delight. Allow your fantasies the time they need to reveal their meaning to you.

Aquarius

January 20 – February 18

Pleasure and recreation could be high priorities for you now. As leisure-loving Venus enters your 5th House of Play, you’re allowed to focus on what makes you feel good. Of course, this doesn’t have to be an entirely selfish impulse. Planning to do something fun with friends can help you move toward balance. You’ll have to take their preferences into consideration, which should nudge you to get out of your own head. Still, your enthusiasm is probably necessary to get the ball rolling!

Pisces

February 19 – March 20

Cleaning up at home can cheer you at this time. As aesthetic Venus shifts into your domestic 4th house, any clutter in your surroundings will possibly be especially grating. You might start to worry that someone else is judging your mess, but that’s not necessarily the case — it could just upset you! Your comfort is definitely a worthy priority, so there’s no need to project that longing for order onto other people. Claim your authority to do something about it.

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