On the second day of the Red & Black Classic, Georgia split for the second consecutive day, except this time in reverse fashion. After being upset by Elon in the first game of the season, Georgia really took it to the Lady Phoenix in the first game, run ruling them by a final score of 8-0. The girls fought hard, but came up short in heartbreaking fashion as they lost the afternoon game to Ohio State by a score of 5-4 in 8 innings. Georgia wraps up play on Sunday against the Winthrop Eagles at 12:30PM.
In the first game, Georgia got off to an extremely hot start as Katie Browne (2-2 in game one) drilled a double off the outfield fence to plate two runners. In the 4th inning, LaZear slapped a hard single into left field to plate a run. Then, Paige Wilson laid down a beautiful bunt after reading the Elon defense perfectly to plate two more runs for Georgia. Geri Ann Glasco put the game far out of reach, invoking the mercy rule, after hitting her first career homer as a Georgia Bulldog. Montemayor threw the complete-game, 3-hit shutout for the Dawgs.
Game two started off to the staff’s dismay as the Dawgs gave up four runs in opening frame. Wilkinson got the start in the circle and struck out the first batter she faced, but after a throwing error on the catcher and a string of hard hits by the Buckeyes, the girls found themselves in a big hole early. In a game where it is all about how you respond, the girls from Athens did just that! After Wilson got aboard with a clean hit, Glasco doubled to the wall (just shy of her second long ball), and drove in Wilson. Iosefa followed with a single to score Glasco. At this point, and ever since the first inning, Montemayor had been summoned to pitch, and she was brilliant for a full seven innings. Wilson homered in the 5th inning to cut the Buckeye lead to just a lone run, and when Georgia was down to their final out in the final frame, Glasco hit a clutch single to the outfield which tied the game at four runs apiece.
Promptly, the Buckeye 9-hole hitter drilled a double to the wall in left field to lead off the 8th inning, and MoMo was pulled for Glasco. Geri Ann got a groundout for the first out, then allowed an RBI single, only to record back-to-back outs to get out of the inning. Georgia tried to rally in the bottom of the 8th inning, but Niaja Griffin recorded the final out and the Dawgs were upset for the second time this early in the season.
If you want my honest opinion, the girls are still getting the nerves out, and understandably so, and the silly base running mistakes have cost us two games in as many days. I was shocked at how hard the freshmen were hitting the ball today, and also was equally as surprised at how hard Niaja was stroking the ball. As of today, three girls on the team are batting .467–Geri Ann, Katie Browne, and Niaja Griffin. If the freshmen continue hitting the ball like they did today, then this team is going to make it far this year. 13 hits were put on the board today on a solid Big Ten opponent and it is only February, folks! Take a minute to realize how good these girls are going to be in May/June!
I have said it a million times, and I will say it again. This is the most fun I have had watching a UGA softball club in a long time. Something about the new chemistry and all the young talent, win or lose, is really fun to watch. It’s funny because I only used to care about watching this team pummel opponents via the mercy rule for the past 4-5 years, and now something about watching this new team practice and learn the game has changed the kind of fan I am. There is something special brewing in Athens, and if you saw the girls play today, despite the second game loss, you know what I am talking about.
The girls will grow up faster than you all realize, and until they do, it will be a learning experience every step of the way. As always, Go Dawgs!