Bulldog Invitational Preview!

After a long trip to the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic, the Bulldogs will be hosting the Bulldog Invitational this weekend. Besides the Bulldogs, Radford, Indiana State, and North Dakota State will also be participating in the annual tournament. Georgia was originally slated to play five games, but since the weather two weeks ago forced the girls to miss two games, Georgia will play an extra game on Sunday against Radford. Georgia will get to know Radford very well this weekend as the two teams square off three times! Georgia will face Indiana State and North Dakota State once apiece. I am extremely eager to see how well the girls respond to what has been a relatively slow start on the season thus far. I have a lot of faith in this team, and if they can pick up six wins this weekend and bring their record to 13-6, I like their chances of turning the season around!

The North Dakota State Lady Bison enter the season with a 4-6 record after dropping two games last weekend to North Carolina and George Washington. Despite the average record, this team has possessed a lot of talent in the past–facing teams such as Arizona and Oklahoma in both the Regionals and Super Regionals in years past. Senior pitcher, Whitney Johnson, leads the Bison in the circle with an impressive 1.60 ERA, while Presley Glaser leads them at the plate with a .333 clip. I would expect this game to be anything but a walk in the park, especially if Johnson is in the circle for the Bison. I have always enjoyed watching the fight that many NDSU teams in the past have had, and I am sure the game between the Bison and the Bulldogs will be an exciting one!

Whitney Johnson is the standout ace of the North Dakota State pitching rotation. (Courtesy NDSU Athletics)

The Radford Highlander’s softball team makes their way into the Bulldog Invitational with little game experience under their belt. Radford has played only four games so far this season, amassing a 1-3 record along the way. The Highlanders lost two games to North Carolina, lost a game to SEC neighbor, South Carolina, and beat Wagner. In the past, Radford was quite the familiar face in Athens, as it seemed they would play in an Athens tournament each and every year. I was always impressed with the hitting that the Highlanders had, but I have to admit I cannot remember much about their pitching rotations. Georgia has played a whopping nine games more than Radford, and you have to think that will affect the outcome of the game, but you never know. Radford gets three shots at the Bulldogs, and if we are not on our A-game the entire three games, it wouldn’t surprise me to see this young Radford team give us a surprise! Radford is led at the plate by Jessie Hutchens, who is batting a modest .333 clip with one RBI and six total bases collected. In the circle, the ERAs are a bit high for the two main Radford pitchers, partially due to only playing 4 games thus far.

I would like to preface my preview of the Indiana State softball program by asking one question: What the heck is a Sycamore? I realize that a Sycamore is a type of tree, but on the Indiana State website it appears that their mascot is some type of fox-looking critter. Help, anyone? Just wondering. Either way, the Lady Sycamores enter Athens with a 7-7 record. Although the Sycamores have played 14 games, the only true test they have faced thus far is one of Georgia’s many SEC rivals, the Auburn Tigers. Auburn defeated Indiana State by a final score of 7-1 in an Auburn-hosted tournament two weekends ago. Indiana State is led at the plate by a trio of talented hitters in Shelby Wilson (.419, 2HR), Morgan Allee (.381), and Megan Stone (.375, 3HR). In the circle, the Sycamores are led by sophomore Ashli Scott, who has tallied a 3-1 record and a 3.08 ERA. By the looks of the ISU stat sheet, the Sycamores can hit! If I remember correctly, ISU played Auburn very closely until the very end of the game. This should be another great game! Now, if only I knew what a Sycamore was?

Georgia fans: Come out and support the Dawgs this weekend! The admission is ALWAYS free and you get to see some great softball being played! The Dawgs need our support as they fight their way back to glory after a rather slow first three weeks of play. I truly believe that the season will be turned around before we know it, although I hope we get to see the girls develop one game at a time and still learn some valuable lessons when needed. SEC play begins in a little over two weeks, and in less than two weeks the girls will make the haul to Atlanta where they will face a very good Georgia Tech squad.

As always, Go Dawgs! (Info from GeorgiaDogs.com is listed below for game times, etc.)

Tournament Schedule

Friday, March 1
• Indiana State vs. North Dakota State – 10 a.m.
• Indiana State vs. Radford – 12:30 p.m.
• No. 23/24 Georgia vs. North Dakota State – 3 p.m.
• No. 23/24 Georgia vs. Radford – 5:30 p.m.

Saturday, March 2
• North Dakota State vs. Radford – 10 a.m.
• No. 23/24 Georgia vs. Indiana State- 12:30 p.m.
• No. 23/24 Georgia vs. North Dakota State – 3 p.m.
• Radford vs. Indiana State – 5:30 p.m.

Sunday, March 3
• Indiana State vs. North Dakota State – 10 a.m.
• No. 23/24 Georgia vs. Radford- 12:30 p.m.
• No. 23/24 Georgia vs. Radford – 3 p.m.

Other Information
• Live stats will be available at http://www.georgiadogs.com
• Free audio broadcast will be available through GTV
• Saturday’s and the first game on Sunday will be broadcast locally on 90.5fm WUOG

Rookie catcher, Katie Browne, is pumped up after hitting a double to the wall in an early 2013 game.

Rookie catcher, Katie Browne, is pumped up after hitting a double to the wall in an early 2013 game. (Courtesy GeorgiaDogs.com)

Dawg Treats: “WWLD” (What Will Lu Do?)

“Every day is a new opportunity. You can build on yesterday’s success or put its failures behind and start over again. That’s the way life is, with a new game every day, and that’s the way baseball is.”
                              (Bob Feller, Cleveland Indians Pitcher and Hall of Fame Member)

The memorable words of Bob Feller posted above could never hold more true for Lu Harris-Champer and our Georgia Bulldogs softball program. After getting off to a sluggish 7-6 start, the Georgia softball team now returns to the friendly confines of Jack Turner Stadium to host the Bulldog Invitational. No doubt about it, these early season tournaments, perhaps with the exception of the Marry Nutter Collegiate Classic, are tournaments that us Bulldog fans are used to seeing shortened, run-rule results in favor of the Bulldogs. Last year, the girls got off to a 13-2 start after the first three weeks of the season, and now the girls find themselves with six losses early in the season. I think many would agree with me on the fact that it is better for these losses to come in February than in May. In defense of the Bulldogs, the losses to Stanford, Washington, and Oklahoma were all against ranked opponents, and the losses to Cal-Poly and Ohio State were to teams who have beaten a few ranked teams also. The only loss that looks pretty bad on the resumé is the season-opening loss to the Elon Phoenix. This is a team that starts 5-7 freshmen in the rotation on a daily basis, and it is expected that they will take their lumps here and there. But, what isn’t fun to watch is losing to teams while using a different configuration of personnel time and time again. Three weeks into the season, the roles should be fairly defined at this point, and the staff now probably knows who they can rely on against the toughest of opponents, and who needs a little more work and experience. Now that Sito is healthy enough to pitch, this could be a “Make Us” or “Break Us” moment. Deep down, I feel as if this is going to be a defining turnaround moment in the season! The offense is going to be fine, and with a little defense work and experience, the errors are going to dramatically decrease. However, a key part of the success of UGA is going to depend on the actions of Head Coach, Lu Harris-Champer. Whether it was Nicholls State, Southern Mississippi, coaching in the Pros, or now here in Athens, Lu has shown that she can win lots of ballgames no matter where she is employed. But, with a young team full of girls who are at a critical age in terms of “next-level” development, the actions of LHC are going to momentously influence the molding of these young Bulldogs. 

And so, I must ask: What Will Lu Do?

Roll over and die is not in the vocabulary of the tenured coach, but you have to wonder how she will respond to the early losses and discombobulation. I have seen around 7-8 different line-up configurations, and I feel as if I have seen even more defensive configurations, particularly in left field. Now, it should be obvious who the “Rough-n-Tough” girls are, and they should get the day-to-day starting responsibilities. It is not my duty in any way, shape, or form to even possess a real input regarding the personnel configuration, but I think you have to pick someone and stick with them. The same thing goes for the offensive line-up–have to choose something and stick with it. Sam LaZear is really coming into her own, and I think she will fit the leadoff role the best for this young team. Sito, Glasco, and Wilson would make an ideal trio of two, three, and four-hole batters, in my opinion. I know I have said it already, but now that Tess is able to pitch more than once a week at practice, I would expect and hope to see her and Geri rotating back and forth from now on. This does not mean that the role of Morgan Montemayor will be diminished, as I believe she will be an integral part of UGA’s success in 2013. It is no secret that Montemayor throws high heat, but her spin is not optimal for pitching a full seven innings against tough opponents on a weekly basis. I think she could pitch every game of  the season, but with 1-3 innings in each game. She would be an excellent reliever as it often takes opponents half of a game to get a feel for her pitching style and to detect that there isn’t much movement. I really Hope that Lu explains the importance that Montemayor is going to play to not just Morgan, but to the entire team. MoMo is so talented, and if she can spend a few weeks working some more on the off-speed stuff, she is going to be an effective reliever. Wilkinson showed that she can be effective also, and I think she will get a good slate (7-10) starts on the season also.

With regards to offense, I think the girls did fine in Palm Springs, but went cold in the middle part of the schedule–unfortunately this was against the toughest opponents. Sito is heating up at the plate, and it is no secret that she hits much better when she is getting regular starts in the circle. Geri Ann was hit-or-miss in Palm Springs, but I am not too worried about Geri, Paige, Sito, or LaZear. Kaylee Puailoa and Tina Iosefa are slowly starting to come into their own, while Griffin and Olney are starting to get things going on offense also. This young offense can hang them in a game with some of the best talent in the country, but it is going to take the pitching staff stepping up for a deep run in the post-season to be possible!

There is no doubt about it, Lu is stuck between a rock and a hard place. It is going to take being extremely patient, while also pushing the girls extremely hard in order for the team to bounce back and flex their talent before SEC play begins. I have no doubt in my mind surrounding Lu’s coaching ability, it just seems this year it’s taking things a little longer to get going than in the past. As stated before, she needs to stick with one line-up and win or lose, develop that particular configuration on the field. Obviously there will be some adjustments throughout the year depending on the opponent at hand, but for the most part, there needs to be some day-to-day uniformity for chemistry and confidence-building measures. Each day and every game is indeed a new day. It is going to be up to this young group of girls to step up and respond to adversity and they have no time to delay! I would expect to see the girls come out fighting hard, attempting to win every inning of every game, no matter the opponent.

As always, Go Dawgs!

Bulldogs Suffer Four Losses, Win One in Palm Springs

It wasn’t the best weekend in the history books for the Georgia softball program, but it was a good weekend for note-taking and analysis of the team’s progress thus far in the early going of the season. Georgia won the first game of the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic against Colorado State before losing four games in a row to Cal-Poly, Oklahoma, Stanford, and Washington. The bats went cold in the middle three games of the tournament, and that is ultimately what made the two games against Stanford and Oklahoma uncompetitive. I still have a lot of hope and expectations for this team and think the team chemistry will grow a lot from this trip out West! It is all about how you respond and fight back, and I think these Bulldogs have an entire season and postseason worth of fight left in them!

Georgia defeated Colorado State by a final score of 5-4 in dramatic fashion. Glasco picked up the win in the circle, allowing a season-high nine hits, striking out five, and walking none. Glasco would also hit what proved to be the game winning home run in the top of the 5th inning against the CSU Rams. Tina Iosefa was 2/4 in the game and Sito was 2/3.

In the second game of the weekend, Georgia squared off against Keilani Ricketts and the Oklahoma Sooners–currently ranked #1/2 in the nation. Morgan Montemayor got the start against the Sooners and gave up four earned runs in the opening two frames of play. After being down 4-0, Chelsea Wilkinson was brought in to pitch and looked stellar. She struck out Chamberlain and Ricketts, en route to three innings pitched and only one earned run against the top offense in the nation. I thought Chelsea was the bright spot in this game, showing that we do have a pitcher on our staff who can spin the ball to all quadrants of the plate and get by big hitters when needed. Samantha LaZear was the only kid from Georgia’s team to register a hit against Ricketts, who fanned ten Georgia batters in her complete-game effort. For LaZear to get a hit off of a USA national team pitcher and arguably the best pitcher in the country is an astounding feat and surely something she will remember for a long time to come!

Georgia began the second day of play by facing off against the Cal-Poly Mustangs–a team whose record was deceiving as they had beaten a ranked team already in the season (Washington) and had lost most of their games by only a single run. The pitcher for Cal-Poly, Wurst, had nothing flashy but was efficient against the Bulldogs. She scattered just four hits and pitched the complete-game shutout. Georgia had a plethora of opportunities to score in this game, but fell short against a very gritty Cal-Poly program. This was a tough loss for Geri Ann Glasco, as she struck out nine batters, gave up only six hits, and the only run scored in the game came on a bases-loaded walk to Whitley Gerhart. This was a tough loss!

Against Stanford, the bats were cold yet again. Stanford took an early 1-0 lead off two Georgia errors, and that is all they would need as Georgia would be held scoreless by rookie pitcher, Kelsey Stevens. Georgia had even more opportunities to plate runners in this game as well, but Stanford turned an eye-popping three double plays against the Dawgs, eventually leading to a 6-0 demise. Montemayor pitched pretty well, only giving up one earned run in four innings pitched, but when Wilkinson was brought in, a Sarah Hassman long ball that scored three would prove to be the melting point for the Bulldogs. Wilkinson got a few strikeouts on the Cardinal batters, but seemed to be a lot more tense in this game than she was against the Sooners. I would like to see these two teams cross paths again in the post-season because I think Georgia can take it to them if they were to play again.

The final game of the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic proved to be, perhaps, the most dissapointing game. But, in terms of lessons learned, this game was a big one. Montemayor was left in for the duration of the game and she was lit up in the first inning, but not again until the end of the game. Washington went on top 4-0 in the first inning off of an error and a string of Husky hits. Georgia would cut the deficit in half thanks to RBIs from Tess Sito and Sam LaZear, but ultimately it would not be enough. Despite not giving up a hit since the second inning of the game, Montemayor had it taken to her in the last two frames of the game, giving up five runs in both the 6th and 7th innings. I like the move to leave her in that game because it would have done no good (confidence-wise) to have brought in one of the rookies. Morgan will learn, and should have already, that it takes more than locating your fastball to be competitive at this level. From what I was told, the change-up was not working well at all this weekend, and when that pitch is not working for her, things tend to get nasty at times. Needless to say, Washington went on to tame the Bulldogs by a 14-2 score.

I think this weekend will let the coaches truly know what they need to work on the most at practice. Good things are on the horizon for this young team and I think they will right the ship here very soon! Tess is completely recovered now from her hand injury and will be able to pitch in this upcoming weekend’s Bulldog Invitational in Athens. Tess could be the missing link that helps bring this team together and makes them stronger. I like the idea of Geri Ann and Tess rotating pitching, with Mo assuming the relief role. Wilkinson will get her share of starts this year too, similarly to the role Sito played last year. Next year will be her year to really shine seeing as how we only have this year to use Sito because of it being her final year. I cannot wait to see these girls grow and learn some important lessons along the way.

I am going to be pretty dedicated these next few weeks! I am going up to Rock Hill to watch the girls play in the ADIDAS Invitational, before heading down to Auburn the following weekend to watch them open up SEC plays at the Tiger home base. I cannot wait to travel on the road and watch these girls get better!

As always, Go Dawgs!

PS: Since I did not go, I was unable to get any pictures of the event. I will try to find a link to some photo albums from the tournament.

Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic Preview

We are less than a full day away from first-pitch against Colorado State in Palm Springs (Cathedral City), California to begin Georgia’s play in the newly named Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic. For over a decade, the tournament was called the Cathedral City Classic, or the CCC, as many collectively would refer to the annual gathering of some of the best talent in Division 1 Softball. The name may be new, but the competition are still the same, hard-nosed, athletic girls this year, same as always. Georgia takes on quite a lofty schedule at the tournament, squaring off against (#2/2)Oklahoma, (#17/20) Stanford, (#22/22)Washington, Cal-Poly, and Colorado State. Oklahoma is the only undefeated team Georgia will face coming into play at the tournament.

But first, for those of you who are wondering who the heck Mary Nutter is:

(From the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic Official Website) “Mary Nutter, who started the National Sports Clinics (NSC) more than 25 years ago to provide softball coaches at all levels access to the highest quality instruction, died from a heart attack in the early morning hours of Tuesday, July 24, (2012) while vacationing in Colorado. Nutter, who had a successful eight-year career as head coach at Pittsburg State (Kan.) prior to founding NSC, found her true calling in 1980 when she ran her first softball clinic in Kansas City while still coaching at Pittsburg State. In 1984, she moved her clinic to Chicago, and then expanded to three clinics in 1985. In 1987, National Sports Clinics was incorporated, and thousands of coaches have benefitted from her work. Growing up in Michigan, Nutter was an outstanding player for the Lansing Laurels, an ASA Women’s Major fastpitch team, and she spent one year (1976) as a player/coach for the Michigan Travelers of the Women’s Professional Softball League. Nutter was twice named Women’s Major first team All-American (1974 and 1975). “Mary was the nicest, sweetest human being that I’ve ever been around and was a proud Spartan,” Michigan State Head Coach Jacquie Joseph said about Nutter who attended Michigan State. “She gave a lot to the game but gave even more to the human race. It’s a profound loss.” After going to school at Michigan State, Nutter began teaching in 1970 in Elsie, Michigan. She taught there until 1977 when she began her collegiate coaching career as a graduate assistant at Michigan State. She spent three seasons there before moving to Pittsburg State. In 1981, she claimed her first of three NAIA District 10 championships and District 10 Coach of the Year awards. She was named District 10 Coach of the Year in 1981, 1982 and 1985. Her 1981 Pittsburg team finished fourth at the NAIA national championship, and overall, Nutter had a 204-125 record at the institution. She also served as an assistant coach for the 1983 Pan American Tri-Nations team and as a member of the 1984 U.S. Pan American selection committee. She was honored in 1988 as an inductee of the NAIA Hall of Fame, and inducted into the NFCA Hall of Fame in 1997. Besides running the National Sports Clinics, Nutter loved to cook and started a catering business with a friend about five years ago.”

Mary Nutter will be missed, as will her impacting influence and advocacy for fastpitch. (Courtesy Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic Official Website)

Georgia begins play in the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic this Thursday against Colorado State at 1:30PM EST and this will be their first away game since playing against Florida State in Fall Ball. Georgia comes into the annual tournament with a 6-2 record after going 3-0 in last weekend’s Georgia Softball Classic. In the 2012 version of this very tournament (was still the Cathedral City Classic), a very under-the-radar Georgia softball team came in and posted a 4-1 record, defeating Oklahoma (W, 3-2), Cal Fullerton (W, 12-5), Arizona (W, 3-0), and UCLA (W, 13-4). Georgia’s lone loss last year in this tournament was to the Washington Huskies (L, 5-7). Georgia led that game 5-4 going into the final inning of play and Erin Arevalo gave up three runs, en route to the Huskies securing a win. After their great play at the tournament in 2012, Georgia jumped 5+ spots in both polls last year–going to show how heavily people weigh this tournament against you! I am super excited to see how the girls do playing in a little warmer weather and playing at a neutral site!

Georgia faces Colorado State for the first time in as long as I can remember this weekend in the tournament. Colorado State is coming into the event with a 6-4 record, including some impressive wins against Texas Tech and BYU. So far this season, the CSU Rams are led at the plate by junior infielder, Alysa Greckel, who is batting a .393 clip with 5 RBI and 13 total bases. In the circle, the Rams are led by senior Pitcher, Kacie McCarthy, who comes in with a 4-2 record and a 2.85 ERA. McCarthy has recorded 27 strikeouts in 34.1 innings pitched so far this season. I honestly do not know much about this particular program, but anytime you can beat two quality teams in back-to-back weeks as the underdog, you deserve more than your share of credit! Excited to have this as the opening match-up despite having to watch it from the office on GameTracker…shoot me now!

In the second game of the first day of the Marry Nutter Collegiate Classic, Georgia will face a more-than-formiddable opponent in the form of the (#2/2)Oklahoma Sooners at 4:00PM EST. Oklahoma comes in to Cathedral City with a perfect 10-0 record, defeating an insane variety of opponents along the way; Stanford, Oregon, Oregon State, Northwestern, New Mexico, Kentucky, Washington, UC Riversde, San Diego State, and Notre Dame have all been toppled by the daunting Sooners so far this early in 2013. My eyes are literally bulging out of my head right now as I let all of that soak in…wow! In their most recent outing, the Sooners faced Notre Dame and it took them 9 innings to finally defeat them by a final score of 7-5. I want to know what the Irish put in their coffee and/or what they had for breakfast before that game, haha! The Sooners have an entire arsenal of offensive Juggernauts, but are led at the plate by Lauren Chamberlain. The sophomore infielder is batting a.556 clip with 6 home runs and 17 RBI. Surprising as it may be, the Sooners are led in the circle by Senior pitcher, Michelle Gascoigne, who is carrying a 0.68 ERA with only 31 innings pitched and a whopping 59 strikeouts! Don’t let these statistics fool you because Michelle is an incredible talent in the circle and would be the #1 on almost any other NCAA D1 team, but we all know that the spotlight is completely on Keilani Ricketts. Ricketts was the 2012 National Softball Player of the Year–the nation’s most prestigious award for D1 softball–last season and is looking to perform even better this year. Ricketts spent some of 2012 playing for the USA Women’s National Team and had a fantastic year in her first stint of international pitching experience. Oh yeah, and did I mention Ricketts can hit? She is batting an eye-popping .462 with 9RBI, two of those runs batted in coming from the long ball. Oklahoma is the most intimidating team (in my opinion) in the entire country and are extremely strong on offense all the way through the order. It should be a very lesson-learning kind of game, win or lose, and I cannot wait to square off against the Sooners! I think we will get Ricketts and Arizona, who plays the Sooners after us, will get Gascoigne. I want to get it over with! Can they just move it to tonight? 😉

Keilani Ricketts & Lauren Chamberlain high-fiving at a game in 2012. (Courtesy SoonerSports.com)

On the second day of play, Georgia begins play against a gritty Cal-Poly squad at 1:30PM EST. Just last week, the Mustangs defeated the Washington Huskies by a final of 2-0. The Mustangs enter play with a 2-8 record overall, but have lost six of their eight games by only one run, including one-run losses to Stanford, Notre Dame, and Kentucky. The Mustangs are led at the plate by junior infielder Kim Westlund. Westlund has tallied a .379 average on the season with 3 RBI and 6 runs scored. In the circle, the Cal-Poly team is led by Chloe Wurst. The sophomore lefty has a 3.56 ERA and carries a 1-2 record to her stat line. Those single-run losses were to some very talented teams, and similarly to Colorado State, this is a mid-major program that could make some noise at the tournament!

Georgia closes the second day of play with a match-up against the Stanford Cardinal at 4PM EST. The Cardinal enter the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic with an impressive 10-2 record, and have recorded wins against some very good teams. Stanford, year in and year out, is considered to be one of the Top 20-25 teams in the country and will be very challenging to contend with. This young group is paced offensively by the bat of Tegan Schmidt, although Schmidt only has 15 at-bats on the season. Hanna Winter, the team’s leader in number of plate appearances, is batting a .326 clip with 2 RBI. Stanford has two very talented pitchers in the circle for them in 2013, starting with the freshman from Volcano Vista High School, Kelsey Stevens. Stevens is carrying a 5-1 record and a 1.50 ERA; she has fanned 49 batters in only 37.1 innings pitched. On the other hand, the Cardinal also have Senior pitcher, Teagan Gerhart. On the season, Gerhart is also 5-1 and has a 1.82 ERA. It is interesting to note that the rookie pitcher, Stevens, held the Sooners to only one run in her outing against them. She relieved Gerhart early in the game, after Teagan had given up five earned runs–four of them coming from the long ball. Kentucky is the only other team in the nation to have beaten the Cardinal this early in the season. But, without a doubt, Stanford is going to be another early test for the Georgia Bulldogs!

In 2013, Stanford will turn to freshman pitcher Kelsey Stevens (pictured above) to help Gerhart with the load. (Courtesy Stanford Athletics)

On Saturday Georgia will close out the tournament with a game against the Washington Huskies. This gets my RED and BLACK blood to pumping just thinking about this match-up as it has been one of the better PAC-SEC rivalries of the past 4 years. Georgia played Washington five times in the 2009 season, once in 2010, did not play them in 2011, and played them last year. The 2009 meetings came at the Easton BIG TEN vs. SEC Challenge in Tuscaloosa (was hosted by Alabama). The teams split 1-1 with each other, each beating the other by identical 2-o scores. Little did the Huskies and Bulldogs know that this dogfight would play out a few more times in the near future. That same year, the two teams squared off three times in the Women’s College World Series–Georgia’s first appearance in the prestigious tournament. Georgia suffered a loss in the first game of the tournament against the Huskies by a 6-4 score, before beating them 9-8 to force the IF-game. I will never forget that game, although now I find myself questioning the score, haha! Brianna Hesson drew a bases-loaded walk from National POY, Danielle Lawrie, to win the game in walk-off fashion for the Dawgs. Washington would then turn around and knock the Dawgs out of their first ever WCWS run. The very next year, Georgia beat the then-#1 ranked Huskies in the opening round of the Women’s College World Series by a 7-4 score on a game-winning home run to center field by Megan Wiggins. Arizona would go on to beat the Huskies next and knock them out of the tournament. Ah, sweet justice! That is probably my number one Georgia softball moment, right next to the 2010 game versus the NPF All-Stars! While the two teams did not square off in 2011, last year they faced off in this very same tournament. Georgia was winning heading into the seventh inning but allowed three runs and took the heartbreaking loss. There have been some absolutely great games between these teams and it truly is a dogfight each and every time. Washington is currently led at the plate by junior 1B, Hooch Fagaly, who is batting a whopping .467 clip with 2 long balls and 8 RBI. The Huskies are led in the circle by Bryana Walker, who has a 1.72 ERA with 45 strikeouts in 36.2 innings pitched. I am stoked for this game!

The team is young and still getting in their groove, but the freshmen are performing incredibly. Each and every one of their averages, slugging %’s, and other stats are incredible for rookies–heck, they’re impressive no matter who you are! Looking back last year’s statistics after the first two weeks compared to the first two weeks of this year, the freshmen are batting 0.87 higher than last year’s rookies–pretty dang impressive! A lot of people have said that we do not match up well with Oklahoma because of our lefty hitters and because of how young the team is. I say to you doubters, Kool-Aide drinkers, and haters: Any team can be beaten on any day and I sure as day hope that my Georgia Bulldogs can blow some people’s mind and dominate this tournament! It is going to be an amazing weekend of softball, and if it weren’t for my demanding work schedule, I would be there.

(Sigh)

Oh well…I will be there in spirit. 😦

Cannot wait until first pitch! As always, Go Dawgs!!!

2013 Georgia Softball team cheering on the on-deck batter at the beginning of a game.

2013 Georgia Softball team cheering on the on-deck batter at the beginning of a game. (Courtesy GeorgiaDogs.com)

Geri Ann Glasco Garners Sec Freshman of the Week

I would first like to apologize for how utterly slow I have been this past week on updating the various sections of the blog. I have started a new job that runs M-F from 8-5 and it is depleting the amount of time I have for updating. I promise I will not always be this busy/lazy! 😛

It brings me great pleasure to announce that Geri Ann Glasco was announced by the SEC this week as being the Freshman of the Week for her performance in the Georgia Softball Classic. Geri Ann batted a .636 clip, going 7-11 with a long ball in each of the three games Georgia played this weekend. In the unofficial game that doesn’t count against Northwestern (see the previous blog post), Geri went 1-1 with two walks and yet another long ball–too bad it does not count officially. I can only imagine what these already eye-popping weekly statistics would have looked like had Georgia finished the game officially with Northwestern and Middle Tennessee.

Geri Ann leads the team thus far with average (.520), HR (4), and several other categories, inluding walks and RBIs. It is going to be neat to see what she can do against the likes of Oklahoma, Washington, and Stanford pitching this weekend in Cathedral City at the Mary Nutter Classic, formerly the Cathedral City Classic. Look out for  a preview of this amazing tournament later on tonight.

As always, Go Dawgs!

Geri Ann Glasco watching a ball sail deep over the fence in a game against Campbell in 2013.

Geri Ann Glasco watching a ball sail deep over the fence in a game against Campbell in 2013. (Courtesy GeorgiaDogs.com)

The Game that “Never” Happened: Georgia vs. Northwestern (2/17/13)

In the third and final day of the Georgia Softball Classic, after numerous schedule changes that already forced Georgia to cancel a second game with Middle Tennessee, Georgia lost the opportunity to get the fourth win of the weekend after the game against the Wildcats did not last at least 5 innings in drop-dead play. Thus, the game will not count against or for Georgia’s record, nor will any statistics from the game be official and count towards the overall cumulative statistics. For the pitchers, maybe that isn’t such a bad thing, but for players like LaZear (2-2; 1B, 2B), Puailoa (2-3 ;2B, 1B) and Glasco (1-1; HR) who tallied big days at the plate, it kind of is a bummer! The coaches proposed trying to finish the remainder of the game at next week’s Mary Nutter Classic in Cathedral City, CA, but the request was denied from officials who run the annual tournament. The game was halted in the top of the fifth inning with Northwestern taking a fresh 7-5 lead after a bases-loaded walk and a bases-loaded HBP. To some, it may seem as if the Georgia girls caught a big break, but in my opinion, I think we looked good on offense and would have been able to make some noise and possibly win the game had it continued. Northwestern would have had to face the 8,9,1,2,3, & 4 spots at least in order to polish off an upset of our (#13/14) Dawgs! For those interested in the highlights of the game, click here for the video highlights and official GeorgiaDogs.com article.

Sam LaZear (2-2 on the day) makes a play against Northwestern in the Georgia Softball Classic. (Courtesy the Red&Black)

Georgia got the game started with Geri Ann Glasco in the circle, and she got three quick outs in the top of the 1st inning. In the bottom of the inning, Cricket Blanco got an RBI the easy way with a bases loaded walk. By the way, for those of you who weren’t brave enough to sit out in the 30 degree cold and wind, walks would be the story for both sides in this shortened game. After scoring a single run off of a Letourneau double to the RF gap, Northwestern tied the game up at one apiece in the top of the second. Georgia would score yet another run off a bases-loaded walk, this time to another freshman–Tina Iosefa. Georgia would score two more runs off a Katie Browne ball with a ton of english on it that the short-stop could not make a good throw on. This play brought the Georgia lead to 4-1, but the Wildcats would not go away it seemed. The pesky Wildcats strung together a series of hits in the third and fourth innings after a few walks issued by Glasco, and they tied the game up at four runs apiece, only for them to take the lead 5-4 when Morgan Montemayor was brought in to the bases loaded jam. In the bottom of the same inning, Glasco led off with a solo moonshot to right field that went a heck of a long way! That kid is clutch! But, in the top of the fifth inning, Northwestern took the lead on a bases loaded HBP and a bases loaded walk. Then, the game was called dead due to the preset drop-dead (2 hour limit) rule in order for Northwestern to make their flight back to Chicago. I think it would have been a great ending to the game the way both offenses were hot, but unfortunately the game does not count and all statistics are null and void. It officially, by word of the NCAA, counts as a scrimmage.

Tina Iosefa rips a ball foul against Northwestern relief pitcher, Megan Lamberth. (Courtesy Red&Black)

Georgia claimed the Tenth-Annual Georgia Softball Classic with a perfect 3-0 record, defeating Campbell, Northwestern, and MTSU. Georgia resumes play this Thursday in Cathedral City, California at the Mary Nutter Classic. I sure wish I was able to go this year, and up until a few weeks ago, thought that I was going to be able to. But, because of work constraints, I am unable to make it this year! I will still provide updates, highlights, and stats though, so don’t think I won’t be updating! Georgia will face off on Thursday against Colorado State and (#2/2) Oklahoma. In the tournament, Georgia will also face Cal-Poly, Washington, and Stanford. Look out tomorrow or Tuesday for a preview of the Mary Nutter Classic!

This team is proving to be an offensive juggernaut this early in the season. The team has the third best batting average in the Southeastern Conference, and IMHO the most talented freshmen class out there! I thought it was hilarious today when Katie Browne fussed at the umpire over his ridiculous strike zone. Funny thing, because as soon as she hassled him, his strike zone magically widened. Cannot wait to see how they do against some top-notch teams this week/weekend! As always, Go Dawgs!

Georgia Races Past MTSU, 13-1 in 5 Innings!

Today’s game against Middle Tennessee State took place in grueling wind and temperatures in the high 30s and low 40s with a windchill of 30 degrees! I had to make frequent trips to my car between innings because it was do dang miserable! Good thing the ladies shortened the game because they knew there were a bunch of cold fans and family in the stands. Thanks, Dawgs! 😀

(Click here for video highlights!)

Georgia defeated Middle Tennessee by a final score of 13-1 in a shortened, 5-inning game that featured 10 Bulldog hits. Georgia scored four runs in the opening inning, four runs in the second inning, and five in the third inning. Needless to say, the thirteen runs scored in the first three innings would be enough to seal a victory over the Blue Raiders. Morgan Montemayor picked up the win in the circle tonight for Georgia, throwing four innings, surrendering just a single run on just one hit. Wilkinson came in to close the fifth and final frame, fanning two batters and inducing a groundout to end the contest. Wilkinson is getting slowly integrated into games, inning by inning, in order to strengthen her mental toughness in the circle. She is going to be a stellar pitcher and reminds me a lot of Fico and Arevalo!

In terms of today’s offensive output, the thirteen runs scored against MTSU are a new season high. Geri Ann ripped her fourth long ball of the year, this time an opposite field towering shot through the pines in right field…all of this with a strong wind blowing in the park. The long ball from Glasco plated two of Georgia’s thirteen runs. Katie Browne and Cricket Blanco each were 2 for 3, driving in two and four runs each, respectively. Tess Sito also went 2 for 3 with 2RBI on the day, while Niaja Griffin was credited with an RBI for her SAC fly. The bats were hot again today, and yes I realize that the MTSU pitching was not the highest of competition, but the girls were putting strong strings of hits together and that is all that matters. Keep those bats hot, Georgia softball!

A few weeks ago I posted an article on this blog about the battle that was going on at practice for the starting third base position. Well, I am not sure that the battle is 100% over yet, but I do not think Cricket is going anywhere anytime soon. She was absolutely amazing this weekend at the hot corner–racing, diving, and leaping to make a slew of great plays so far in the tournament. I feel like I have seen her throw out at least 7-8 lead runners at second this early in the season. It helps that her bat is hot right now too! For now, Swafford is spending time in RF.

The second game originally scheduled against Northwestern for tonight was rescheduled for tomorrow at noon. The game against MTSU is cancelled. I am so excited for the rematch against Northwestern! As always, Go Dawgs!

Cricket Blanco makes a throw to first base in a 2013 Georgia Softball Classic game. (Courtesy GeorgiaDogs.com)