Georgia finished the final four games of the 2013 Bulldog Invitational with three wins and a loss. After sweeping the first day of the fifth-annual event, Georgia routed Indiana State by a score of 9-1 and slipped up to a very gritty North Dakota State program by a final of 3-1. On Sunday, the girls came out swinging and proved to be too much for the Radford Highlanders to handle–beating them 10-2 (5) and 12-0 (5). I was pleasantly pleased with the how the girls hit the ball, with the exception of the loss to Whitney Johnson (NDSU ace), but was even more pleasantly surprised with how well all of the pitchers did. It really looks as if the spark is starting to light up inside the eyes of the Bulldogs, and I cannot wait for them to begin SEC play. I have been watching Georgia softball for quite a long time now, and I can say that the way the girls played in 5/6 games in this tournament looks like the Bulldogs of old. This weekend will be the last cupcake scheduling the girls from Athens will face, so I hope they can get five wins and boost up the stats before heading into Atlanta on Wednesday against Georgia Tech. It was great to see Sam LaZear back playing again today, although she was pinch hit for twice–presumably to give her some rest and because Olney has been KILLING the ball lately! Speaking of killing the ball, Paige Wilson and Anna Swafford were on fire this weekend. Paige batted 9-18 (.500) with 2 Grand Salamis and a 2RBI walk-off HR, all while collecting 14 RBI’s. That is some crazy/scary run production that will be much needed throughout the year! Swafford batted 9-19 (.474) with two home runs and a pair of triples, all while racking up 5 RBI’s. In the five games we won this weekend, there was a LOT of offense, so I have done some abridged game recaps below!
On Saturday, Georgia faced off against the Indiana State Sycamores and won in a run-rule shortened game by a final score of 9-1. Georgia got the scoring going in the first inning with a Paige Wilson SAC fly, and the girls did not look back from there. A pair of doubles by Puailoa and Glasco, along with a SAC drag bunt by Wilson put the score in favor of Georgia 5-0. Swafford and Wilson hit back-t0-back triples to add on two more runs for the Dawgs, and Olney hit a walk-off double up the middle to end the game in the bottom of the sixth. The lone Indiana State run was an unearned run. Glasco did not allow a hit until the fifth inning of the game and she struck out five batters in five innings of work. Wilkinson closed the game, registering two of the final three outs via the strikeout.
The second game of the day on Saturday was one that got off to a shaky start, and didn’t get much better for the entirety of the game. Tess Sito got the start in the circle and surrendered a 2RBI long ball to center in the top of the first inning. That would eventually prove to be quite enough for the Bison, as Senior pitcher Whitney Johnson pitched a gem of a game against the Bulldogs, surrendering just one hit and two walks, all while pitching the shutout. The Bison would go on to win over the Dawgs by a final of 3-0. Morgan Montemayor came in to relieve Sito in just the second inning and she did a great job! She was hitting her spots and the off-speed was killer, however she surrendered a lone earned run on a lazy bloop single into shallow left field. I cannot give enough props to Whitney Johnson as she threw every pitch and threw them all well in the 1-hit effort! Paige Wilson collected Georgia’s lone hit–a single up the middle to lead off the bottom of the 7th inning. I really think this is one of the games where the experienced senior simply outsmarted the extremely young hitters in our order!
On Sunday, the Bulldogs faced off in a twin bill against the Radford Highlanders and would win both games via the run-rule. In the first game, Glasco was in the circle and fanned 8 batters in just 5 innings of work. Big home runs by Tina Iosefa (her 1st as a Bulldog) and Kaylee Puailoa opened up the scoring early in the game. After the pair of rookie long balls, the score was 5-0. Georgia would add on two more runs thanks to a Christne Olney double and later would tack on another in part to an Anna Swafford triple! Paige Wilson came up clutch in the bottom of the fifth inning and delivered the game-winning walk-off 2RBI HR to end the game. She is starting to hit the kind of home runs that we became accustomed to seeing from Wiggins and Goler–I have to admit she is such an exciting prospect and is really tearing the hide off of the ball! In the second game of the day against Radford, the bats would prove to be too much again as the girls would claim a run-rule 12-0 victory in 5 innings on the back of a no-hitter from Chelsea Wilkinson. Swafford, who was extremely impressive this weekend, led off the second game with a solo shot to left center–just one of the nine runs that Georgia would score in the opening frame. Wilson and Glasco hit back-to-back doubles to score the second run against the Highlanders, and thanks to an error and a few singles, the Bulldogs would make it a 5-0 game. Then, with the bases juiced, Paige Wilson hit her third home run and second grand slam of the weekend to bring the score to 9-0. Georgia would score their final three runs on two doubles by Katie Browne and a Niaja Griffin single to center field. Georgia win 12-0 in five innings over the Radford Highlanders.
Georgia finished the Fifth-Annual Bulldog Invitational with a 1st place record and won the tournament for the 5th consecutive year. North Dakota State finished in second place, Indiana State in third place, and the Radford Highlanders in fourth place. Geri Ann Glasco collected three wins in the circle, while Sito and Wilkinson each picked up a win of their own. I truly think Swafford has had a softball epiphany of sorts and is really starting to play the kind of softball she was recruited to play! She was hitting the crud out of the ball and was lights out on the bases as well, notching two triples and stealing a few bases also. Anna is showing that she belongs in the line-up and it looks as if she is really starting to come into her own. Lu and Gerry had her batting leadoff and in the 2-hole for the entirety of the tournament. She literally looked like Schlopy the way she lead off the last few games of the tournament! While the girls may fall out of the rankings due to the one setback against the Bison of North Dakota State, this is by no means a time to panic, Dawg Fans! The girls are showing that the offensive production is going to be there and the pieces of the pitching puzzle are slowly starting to come into plain view! In my honest opinion, Geri Ann has been pretty dominant, and without the high walk totals, her stats would be even more impressive! It may be up to the two rookie pitchers to step up and lead this team to the post season! Each and every game the pitching staff seems to be getting better and better, including Morgan Montemayor. I loved the way she looked in the relief role this weekend and I hope she comes to enjoy it because she looked dominant!
Next weekend, I will be making the trip up to Rock Hill, South Carolina–about a three and a half hour trek from Athens–to watch the Dawgs play in the Winthrop ADIDAS Invitational. After the trip to Rock Hill, the girls return to Georgia for a big city match-up in Atlanta against the Yellow Jackets of Georgia Tech. SEC play begins just three days after the big rivalry game in Athens as the girls will make their way to Auburn to take on a young Tigers squad. I am still excited as all get out to see the hypothetical Wilkinson vs. Davis game! Both girls were Gatorade Players of the Year in North Carolina, Wilk in her sophomore and junior seasons, and Lexi in her senior season. Lexi was also named the ESPN Softball High School POY!
I am so excited to be a supporter and proud fan of this team! All of the puzzle pieces are coming together and the team is starting to find their rhythm despite a few early setbacks. I cannot wait to make the trip this weekend and to follow this team across the Southeast and where ever else their talent may take them by the end of the season! Where the Bulldogs go, Garrett will go! 😀
In the Winthrop ADIDAS Invitational, Georgia will face Delaware State, Winthrop, North Carolina A&T, Western Illinois, and Kent State. Georgia heads into play with a modest 12-7 record, looking to hopefully improve to 17-7 before heading to Atlanta next Wednesday to square off in the big rivalry match-up with those danged little Bumblebees! 😀
As always, Go Dawgs! Sic’ EM!