Sixth-Annual Red & Black Classic Preview

For the sixth year in a row, the University of Georgia softball program will be hosting the Red & Black Classic. The tournament will feature the Ohio State Buckeyes, Elon Phoenix, and the Winthrop Eagles. This will mark the sixth consecutive year that I have gone to this particular tournament and it is always a good one! The tournament will open up on Friday as Elon and Ohio State square off at 12:30pm, followed by Georgia’s two games against Elon and Ohio State at 3:00PM and 5:30PM respectively. Day two of the tournament will feature Georgia taking on Elon and Ohio State again (12:30PM & 3:00PM), while the Sunday match-up will be Georgia taking on Winthrop at 12:30PM.

Georgia has not squared off against the Ohio State Buckeyes since knocking them out of the 2009 Athens Super Regional–in turn advancing Georgia to their first ever trip to the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. That was probably the most fun season of softball I can remember in a very long time, especially the Ohio State games! I can remember painting up and going to the 2009 Super Regional–I screamed so much that I had a migraine and sore throat for two days! Haha!

Paige Wilson preparing to connect on a hard hit in a game in the 2012 Red & Black Classic.

Paige Wilson preparing to connect on a hard hit in a game in the 2012 Red & Black Classic. (Courtesy Georgiadogs.com)

Ohio State is not the powerhouse program that they were in recent history, but still cannot be over looked! The top pitcher of last year’s Buckeye staff was Mikayla Endicott–she  struck out 189 batters in 197 innings pitched and sported a 2.56 era for the season. It appears that a lot of the Buckeye’s offensive production will have to come from the sophomore and junior class–especially after graduating senior slugger, Alicia Herron. I think this will be a very good test for the young dawgs early on in the season! Ohio State finished the 2012 season with a 31-23 record and ended their season with a 4-1 win over Penn State in regular season play.

The Phoenix of Elon are no strangers to Jack Turner Stadium, and after not visiting Georgia in 2012, have made their return to Athens for the fourth time in five years! Many of the ladies from Elon are no strangers to Georgia either, after all, they have 5 Georgia natives on their roster in 2013! One of those Georgia natives is senior, Southern Conference Preseason 1st Team OF, Tomeka Watson. Tomeka and I were good friends and always saw each other at the fields growing up because we went to high school at Jackson High School together–she was a few years younger than I. Shout out to the Red Devils of Jackson! 😀 She was one of the toughest hitters to strikeout in terms of Ks/Ab in 2011 and 2012 too I believe! Watson, who played travel ball with the Georgia Elite Gold,  is a stellar outfielder with a lot of power from the right side; it seems she always has multi-hit games against us! On the other end of the experience scale, Phoenix newcomer pitcher, Kayla Caruso, is a freshman from Harrison High School where she was a stellar pitcher! She pitched for the East Cobb Bullets if I am not mistaken. Cannot wait to watch this game! Elon finished the 2012 season with a 24-27 tally and ended their year with a 2-4 loss to College of Charleston in the SoCon Conference Tournament.

Elon’s Tomeka Watson will be one of the top players to watch at the 6th Annual Red & Black Classic! (Courtesy Flickr.com)

Last, but certainly not least, are the Winthrop Eagles out of the Big South Conference. In 2012, the Eagles proved that they are more than capable of upsetting an SEC powerhouse program by knocking off the Tennessee Volunteers by a score of 2-1 in the NFCA Leadoff Classic. Winthrop finished their 2012 season with a 16-39 record and exited 2012 with a loss to conference foe, Campbell University. If they were able to knock off the Vols last year, I am certainly not going to let that 16-39 record convince me of anything! Should also be a good game!

I sure hope that these freshmen are ready to play and I hope that the veterans are prepared to step it up this year! Gotta get back to the WCWS this year after a two-season drought! The road starts here in Athens a week from now! Come out and bring your friends and let’s support our Georgia Bulldogs! Admission is FREE and the players will be signing autographs and posters after the games! As always, Go Dawgs!

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