Sports briefs | Ace Sanders works out for NFL scouts; SCF baseball back on track

March 28, 2013 

College football: Lattimore, Sanders wow scouts

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Marcus Lattimore stood silently in front of the mesh, ladder-style workout mat in South Carolina's weight room, ready to show the NFL how far he's come since his horrific knee injury five months ago.

"I was a little nervous," the ex-Gamecocks running back said. "But excited, too, that I could do this."

Lattimore did a series of exercises designed to demonstrate the progress of his surgically repaired knee. He dislocated the knee and tore several ligaments against Tennessee at Williams-Brice Stadium last October.

Lattimore received a loud cheer from former teammates and coaches, and evaluators from the 31 NFL teams attending the workouts.

Lattimore was among 18 former Gamecocks working out for NFL teams.

Early entry receiver Ace Sanders, the Outback Bowl MVP from Manatee High who gave up his senior season, thought he improved on his NFL combine 40-yard dash time of 4.53 seconds and wowed scouts by field a punt while holding three footballs.

"I'd never done that before," Sanders said.

ELSEWHERE -- Georgia Southern and Appalachian State announced their athletic programs are leaving the Southern Conference to join the Sun Belt Conference in 2014. Idaho also announced that it has accepted an invitation to join the Sun Belt in football only next year. ... East Carolina will join the soon-to-be-renamed Big East as an all-sports member, instead of just for football as originally planned.

NFL: Diehl, Giants agree to new deal

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants put a little more money in the Victor Cruz contract fund this week by cutting the salary of right tackle David Diehl by nearly $3.5 million. The paycut was revealed when a look at Diehl's salary for this season was listed at $1 million on the NFLPA website. The 11-year veteran had been scheduled to make $4.37 million in the final year of his contract.

ELSEWHERE -- The Houston Texans continued their rally in free agency, signing fullback Greg Jones. ... The agent for Chase Blackburn said the former New York Giants linebacker has agreed on a two-year contract with the Carolina Panthers. ... Offensive lineman Lance Louis, still rehabilitating from a season-ending knee injury, signed with the Miami Dolphins. ... The Oakland Raiders released defensive tackle Tommy Kelly, cutting ties with their longest-tenured position player on the roster.

Juco baseball: SCF spanks South Florida

AVON PARK -- The State College of Florida baseball team made up for lost time Wednesday in its first game out of a two-game suspension by clubbing South Florida State College 14-3 in Suncoast Conference play.

The Manatees (27-10, 10-3) forfeited two games after players left the bench Friday night to join an on-field altercation against Hillsborough Community College.

On Wednesday, though, Sean Trent and Lakewood Ranch product Andrew McNett each went 3-for-4 with three runs scored and two RBIs as SCF rolled. Manatee graduate Bryan Voelkl drove in two runs. Ben Ancheff got the win on the mound, allowing one earned run and six hits while striking out six in six innings.

Prep softball: Palmetto cruises to victory

PALMETTO -- A day after Braden River's Courtney Mirabella threw a perfect game at them, the Palmetto Tigers jumped on Germantown (Pa.) in a 13-2 softball victory in five innings.

Keeley Ecker led the offense by going 3-for-4 with two RBIs. Sarah McClintic, Auria Mounts, Kendall Vedder, Jordan Whitaker, Briana Fox and Sabria Bruton each had two hits. Fox got the win on the mound.

Motorsports: Penske done with Logano-Hamlin feud

HUMBLE, Texas -- Roger Penske said that Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin have exchanged text messages since their final-lap crash at Fontana last weekend that left Hamlin hospitalized with a fractured vertebra.

Penske said he's also sent text messages to Hamlin, who is expected to miss at least six weeks. Penske and Logano, one of his drivers, were playing in the pro-am leading up to the PGA Tour's Houston Open. Logano twice turned down interview requests.

Tennis: Sharapova moves to Sony semis

KEY BISCAYNE -- The grunts were long and loud in the final game, as if Maria Sharapova was pushing a couch across nearby Crandon Beach.

Trying to win the Sony Open must feel that way to Sharapova, a four-time runner-up. She returned to the semifinals despite a patchy performance, beating Sara Errani 7-5, 7-5.

Sharapova had 57 unforced errors, including 13 double-faults, and overcame three set points in the second set.

"I made things much more difficult than they should have been," she said.

The men's quarterfinals featured eight Europeans for the first time, and in the opening match, No. 3 David Ferrer of Spain rallied past unseeded Jurgen Melzer of Austria, 4-6, 6-3, 6-0.

Soccer: U.S.-Mexico game draws big ratings

BRISTOL, Conn. -- The scoreless tie between the United States and Mexico more than doubled the previous high viewership for a World Cup qualifier on an ESPN network.

The game Tuesday night was watched by 2.385 million people on ESPN. The company said the previous high was 1.191 million viewers for a 2009 U.S.-Mexico match on ESPN2. The Americans earned only their second point in a World Cup qualifier at Azteca Stadium. The tie moved the U.S. (1-1-1) into third place in World Cup qualifying for the North and Central American and Caribbean region after three of 10 matches.

-- Associated Press

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