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Around & About / News and notes

CWS final starts tonight

Florida and South Carolina don't immediately come to mind when you're talking about Southeastern Conference rivalries -- unless it's baseball.

The Gators (53-17) and defending national champion Gamecocks (53-14) play their biggest series to date when they meet in the College World Series finals beginning tonight in Omaha, Neb. (8 p.m., ESPN)

Last year, the Gators traveled to Columbia, S.C., the final weekend of the regular season and won two of three to edge out the Gamecocks for the SEC title.

"But they got the last laugh," said Florida catcher and SEC player of the year Mike Zunino. "They got to hold the national championship trophy up."

Three months ago, South Carolina went to Florida and won two of three, and the teams ended up in a three-way tie with Vanderbilt for the best record in the league.

Florida will start sophomore Hudson Randall (11-3) against freshman Forrest Koumas (6-1) in Game One.


Dix is the star of the show

One by one, a generation of American track and field's best athletes slowed at the finish, pulled up lame and failed to find their fastest gear. By the time the week was over, Walter Dix was among the few who looked ready to take on the world.

Dix completed the 100-200 double at U.S. track championships in Eugene, Ore., Sunday, meaning he'll be the headliner on the American world team that will be missing Tyson Gay, Lolo Jones, Wallace Spearmon and a handful of other regulars.

Dix completed his sprint double by running the 200 in a wind-aided 19.95 seconds for a .03 margin over Darvis Patton. He'll head to worlds in South Korea later this summer as America's best sprinter, which puts him squarely on Jamaican world-record holder Usain Bolt's radar with the Olympics coming up in a year.

"I can't see myself losing," Dix said in a typical burst of optimism.


Michigan recruit is in coma

An Indiana high school basketball standout who survived a plane crash that killed his father and stepmother is in a drug-induced coma as doctors monitor the badly injured 16-year-old's brain swelling, his father's business partner said Sunday.

Austin Hatch suffered brain bruising and swelling and deep facial cuts in Friday's crash that killed his father, Stephen Hatch, and stepmother, Kim, but has shown some hopeful signs at a Michigan hospital, said Dr. G. David Bojrab.

Austin, a high school junior from Fort Wayne, Ind., recently accepted a scholarship to attend and play basketball for the University of Michigan after graduation.

From News Staff and wire service reports