I always enjoy getting the chance to drive over to Jack Turner Stadium and watch the girls practice, but oftentimes in the Winter it is simply too cold or either the girls are having indoor practice. Luckily for me, when I arrived today the ladies were taking front toss and I got the chance to really look at some of the rookies and break down their swings. In soft toss, Niaja Griffin really impressed me a lot in that she has flat-out improved her game and her strength! I am willing to guess that out of the 30-35 pitches I saw Niaja take, she probably hit 10-12 of them out of the park. Glasco and Iosefa were hitting almost all of their soft toss way over the trees in dead center, and Katie Browne hit a few towering shots also.
After finishing soft toss and picking up the field, the girls split up into different groups and prepared to scrimmage. Georgia ran their scrimmage in a really unique way today, rotating fielders and batters every 6 outs, but leaving the same pitcher in for 12 outs until taking them out. It was interesting to watch for sure! Montemayor is back home in Arizona for a family function but will return to campus and practice on Monday–I kind of enjoyed this because I got to really focus on the newbies–Glasco and Wilkinson–and watch Sito pitch too. In one of the groups, Lu had Swafford playing third base, and in the other group Cricket got the nod at third. Overall, I think Swafford is the better fielder and has better range, but I think Cricket would prove to be the better offensive choice.
And now, my prediction for the line-up in 2013…
The four pitchers will all split time, although I think the staff is hoping that Montemayor assumes the ace role and provides some much needed improvements, as well as leadership for the rookie pitchers! When Geri Ann is not pitching, she will play 1st base, and I think when she is pitching, Iosefa will get the opporunity to play first–other than that situation, I think Iosefa will serve as the DH. Sito played a dang good 2nd base today at practice and I would expect to see her there for the remainder of the season barring injury. Paige had a couple of botched plays at SS today, but looked more out of sync than anything. I expect her to be fine for the regular season. After watching Cricket and Swafford compete at 3B today, I can honestly say I have no clue as to who they will go with. Browne will be the primary catcher–perhaps every game of her 4 years at UGA! The outfield, from left to right, will look like this: Niaja Griffin, Sam LaZear, & Kaylee Puailoa. Whoever is slumping for the week or if a different DH is needed will be taken over in the line-up by Olney I would imagine…her swings looked good today although she didn’t come up with any big hits in the scrimmage. Sowers and Branch each had a few at-bats today and boy was I impressed with the speed on Sowers! She can fly around the bases! Branch put down a couple of bunts in the scrimmage, but still needs some swing work, although I would presume her and Reed will be primarily used as runners this season.
As far as pitching goes, Geri Ann was throwing pretty hard today, although not her hardest. While watching Geri warm up, I saw her throw the rise a lot and it looked phenomenal. Wilkinson had the rise and off speed pitches working quite well today (I believe she had the most Ks), and Sito’s drop ball was dang near unhittable today. Sito did a good job at pitching to LaZear too–luring her in with a couple of knee high drop balls before almost fanning her with a tight screw ball that the umpire called a ball just off the corner. I was impressed with all three hurlers today, but cannot wait to have Mo back in town in the circle for the dawgs!
Statistics at practice are not the most revealing because you never know who was out late the night before, who was studying for that 8am exam, and who was just having a bad/weird day; that being said, many of the players performed well in the scrimmage today. Iosefa was experiencing major beast mode and was hitting everything that was fired her way! Geri Ann also put the bat hard on the ball several times too. Below, I have listed the H/AB statistics and some other notes for today’s scrimmage. Enjoy!
Sito: (1-3) HBP, infield single, ground out, ground out; Tess also pitched for 6 outs and was getting pretty much all groundouts on her drop ball and offspeed pitches! Looked good!
Puailoa: (0-4) K, pop out, ground out, ground out, HBP; Kaylee looked great while doing front toss, but her swing sort of fell apart against Geri’s pitching.
Cricket: (2-4; 1RBI) squeeze bunt single, double, K, K;
Branch: (0-2) pop-out, K;
LaZear: (2-4) groundout, groundout, infield single, reached on FC, single;
Olney: (0-3) BB, ground out, ground out, ground out; Olney hit all of her balls on the ground extremely hard, but right at the fielder–tough luck today for Olney!
Iosefa: (3-5; 4RBI) HR 2RBI, single, double 2RBI, fly out, fly out; Tina tore it up out there today, end of story!
Swafford: (1-3; 1RBI) K, bunt single 1RBI, K;
Wilson: (0-2) ground out, ground out, BB; Wilson was making great contact today, but seemed a little out of the loop overall today–not too worried about Paige, she will be fine!
Griffin: (1-2) double, SAC, ground out;
Browne: (0-2) ground out, ground out;
Sowers: (0-2) ground out, ground out; Saw great speed out of Sowers today; easily one of the Top 5 fastest kids on the team this season!
PS: The new UGA Softball billboard was up today when I arrived at the stadium to watch practice. I have included a picture of it below! Also below is a link to a video I recorded from this week’s practice. It’s just a short snippet but it gives you guys a look at the newbies playing on the field. In the video,Glasco is pitching and LaZear slaps to Cricket at 3B who fires home to Browne who gets the force out. Enjoy! In the future, I will be able to integrate videos directly into the blog, but still have to pay the $100.00 video upgrade! Haha! Enjoy and Go Dawgs!