Georgia has intense rivalries with several teams in the Southeastern Conference: Florida, Auburn, and Tennessee to name a few. But, none of them compare to their foe an hour away in Atlanta, ACC power, Georgia Tech. The Bulldogs and Yellow Jackets have played some extremely interesting games over the past four years, some of which I would like to remember and some (last year’s game) that I would like to burn out of my mind! 😀
The two softball programs have faced a grand total of 30 times with Georgia owning the all-time series by a margin of 20-10. When this game is in Athens, it seems the Bulldogs are relentless and determined, but in Atlanta things often are too close for comfort and the crowd always plays a huge factor in the game! I remember two years ago, when Schlopy and Wiggins were patrolling center field and left field, respectively, when the hecklers in the outfield were yelling and screaming at the two girls. It was pretty intense!
The two games that stick out in mind throughout the series over the past 4-5 years can be defined with some key phrases: “Razey’s late Long Ball” & “The Punch”–two incredibly feisty games!
Who doesn’t remember the 5-4 back and forth affair that ended with the Bulldogs on top thanks to an Ashley Razey 3-run bomb? It was in Atlanta and the Yellow Jackets were scoring left and right. In the top of the sixth inning, Ashley Razey busted things open and brought the Georgia girls back on top with an absolute mammoth home run to right center field off of Hope Rush. That game ended by a 5-4 score and I would not have my voice back for about 4-5 days after screaming so much in that game!
And alas, who can forget the “punch” that occurred in the game a couple of years back. Georgia Tech’s catcher put an agressive tag at the plate on Taylor Schlopy, who responded with a punch to the back of Kuzma’s helmet. We would later find out by watching the film from the game that Kuzma had stomped on Schlopy’s hand with her cleat, angering the 5’2 center fielder in the process. That was one of the most intense moments I have ever witnessed at a softball game! Georgia went on to win handily in that game, 6-3 I believe.
This year, both Georgia Tech and Georgia have gotten off to mediocre starts compared to their past 4-5 seasons, but that does not mean anything with regards to the intensity that this game is surely going to bring! The house is always packed when the Dawgs show up in Atlanta and there will be plenty of young hecklers yelling and screaming at the Dawgs. Not only this, but the game will be broadcasted live online courtesy to ESPN3. It will be interesting, to say the least, to see how this infant team does in their first big rivalry game of their career! This game does not mean much in the sense that it isn’t a conference match-up, but this one is played for pride and territorial bragging rights!
Georgia enters play ranked 25th in the nation with a 17-7 record. The ladies from Athens are second in the SEC in batting average (.351), third in home runs (34), first in slugging % (.602), and third in total bases and hits (365 TB, 213 H). In the most recent run-in with Georgia Tech in 2012, the Yellow Jackets shut-out the Bulldogs in 2-0 fashion. The loss came at a point in the season where the bats went cold as ice for around 3-4 games. I remember watching this game wondering to myself what the heck was going on. Now, in 2013, Georgia will get two shots to prove they are the best team in the state! I think Georgia is a better team altogether when you compare the two teams’ pitching, hitting, and defense, but in a game like this, the winner is the team that fights the hardest for a full 7 innings.
Georgia Tech enters the first meeting of the year with Georgia with a 13-12 record and are looking to strengthen their resumé with a win over the Bulldogs. Georgia Tech is led at the plate by lefty slapper Ashley Thomas (.429, .520 OB%, and 18RBI), but also get a lot of production from Alysha Rudnik (.394, 4HR, 24RBI), Katie Johnsky (.329, 3HR, 13RBI), Hayley Downs (.383, 6RBI), and Hope Rush (.321, 8HR, 32RBI)
The big question mark with the Yellow Jackets this year deals with who starts in the circle. Pitching has not been a strong point so far in the young season for Tech, as their most-used pitcher, Hope Rush, is sporting a 3.66 ERA and only a 6-7 record. The staff ERA for the Yellow Jackets is pretty high–currently sitting at 4.47. No pitcher for the Yellow Jackets has more strikeouts than innings pitched, and the pitchers in Atlanta have given up a whopping 25 long balls this early in the year! I think if Georgia can tack on a good amount of runs early in the game and not look back or give in to Tech, they will cruise to a win. But, then again, you never know! This will be the first major test for the Dawgs since returning from the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic in Palm Springs, California.
As always, Go Dawgs!