Tenth-Annual Georgia Softball Classic Preview

The 2013 edition of the Georgia Softball Classic preview will be held this weekend, February 15th to February 17th, at the Jack Turner Softball Stadium. Georgia softball welcomes Campbell, Middle Tennessee State, and Northwestern to Athens in this year’s tournament. Play in the tenth-annual contest begins at 10:00am on Friday as Campbell faces off against Middle Tennessee State. Georgia will play against Campbell at 3:00pm on Friday, followed by a big match-up against a feisty Northwestern squad at 5:30pm. On Saturday, Georgia will play against MTSU at 12:30 before having a rematch with the Wildcats of Northwestern at 3:00. Georgia concludes play as the host team on Sunday against MTSU at 12:30pm. Georgia is looking to hopefully pick up five wins this weekend against some very solid competition after getting an unusually slow start last week in the Red & Black Classic.

Cricket Blanco, Kaylee Puailoa, and Tina Iosefa enjoying the beginning to the 2013 season.

Cricket Blanco, Kaylee Puailoa, and Tina Iosefa enjoying the beginning to the 2013 season. (Courtesy GeorgiaDogs.com)

In the 2012 Georgia Softball Classic, Georgia went 4-0 in route to garnering first place in the tournament. Georgia defeated Western Illionois by a score of 2-0, Connecticut 8-1, Tennessee Tech 6-1, and Buffalo 8-0 in 5 innings. Georgia had scheduled five games, but the fourth game scheduled, against Winthrop, was cancelled at the time due to inclement weather. The competition in this year’s tournament is a little tougher and I expect the Dawgs to see some very talented opponents on the field.

I bet if I asked you to name one of several undefeated teams this early in the season you could probably guess a few: Alabama, Oklahoma, Texas, Florida, etc. But, would you ever think to name the Fighting Camels of Campbell University? I didn’t think so. These girls from Campbell have proven that they can surely get over the hump (I’m sorry, I had to…), as they are a perfect 4-0 on the season after routing their opponents in the first week of the season in the Hampton Inn Invitational. The Camels posted wins over Seton Hall (W, 7-6), Virginia (W, 8-0), George Washington (W, 11-1), and St. Bonaventure (W, 9-0). Two Lady Camels to watch out for are junior first baseman, Raven Lee, and sophomore pitcher, Julia Callicutt. Raven Lee was named the Big South Player of the Week after posting a .500 batting average to start the season. Not only did the junior slugger post an exquisite average at the plate, but she also belted four homers to get the season going with a bang. Julia Callicutt was named the Big South Pitcher of the Week after posting a 2-0 record and firing a no-hitter against the St. Bonaventure Bonnies. This team looks to be under the radar and it wouldn’t surprise me to see them come out with a ton of fight and win some games in impressive fashion. Campbell finished the 2012 season with a 30-29 record, just barely finishing above the .500 mark.

Junior first baseman, Raven Lee, and sophomore pitcher, Julia Calicutt, swept the Big South weekly conference honors after having stellar opening weekends. (Courtesy Campbell Athletics)

The Middle Tennessee State University Blue Raiders are opening their season this weekend in the Georgia Softball Classic after wrapping up the 2012 season with a 16-33 record and a 5-18 record in the Sunbelt Conference. Junior infielder Kayla Toney was named to the preseason 1st team selection after posting a .409 batting average with four long balls in the 2012 season. After a disappointing 2012 campaign, the Blue Raiders are looking to get off to a good start for the 2103 season in the Georgia Softball Classic.

The Wildcats of Northwestern are arguably the most talented and dangerous team with a losing record in the country. It would be extremely foolish and naive to let their 0-5 record deceive you as the Wildcats faced some top-notch competition in the first week of the season at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Arizona. The Wildcats lost to (#16)Arizona (L, 3-4), San Diego State (L, 5-7), Oregon State (3-7), Boise State (L, 3-11), and (#2)Oklahoma (L, 4-7). Northwestern has been the only team in the country thus far that has been able to even remotely come close to competing against the Oklahoma Sooners and Keilani Ricketts. In fact, Northwestern actually chased Ricketts from the game after she gave up her first hits of the year after she threw back-to-back no-hitters to start the 2013 campaign. The Wildcats led at one point, but only briefly before the Sooners came charging back to win by a final of 7-4. Northwestern’s ace pitcher, Amy Letourneau, began the year with an 0-3 record (3.89 ERA) with 18 innings pitched, but an impressive 26 strikeouts. She will be a very tough pitcher to face off against, but if Georgia can work her deep into the game, I like our chances. If we fall behind, things could get ugly really quick. Northwestern’s 2013 squad features two players named to the 2013 Softball POY WatchList: junior infielder Marisa Bast and senior utility player Emily Allard. Bast batted a team-best .411 in 2012 with 13 long balls and a whopping 68 runs batted in, while Allard posted a .383 batting average, 22 RBI’s, and only 18 strikeouts on the year. This team will be wanting to win after getting off to a slow start, and Georgia knows the feeling. This will be a true test of which team wants it most!

Marisa Bast connects for a hit in a 2012 game. (Courtesy Chicago Sun-Times)

Be sure to come out and support the Dawgs on Friday at 3:00PM as they begin play against the Campbell Fighting Camels as the host team in the 2013 Georgia Softball Classic. The ladies will take on Northwestern in the evening game at 5:30pm.

As always, Go Dawgs!!!

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