Georgia at Arkansas Preview:

The Georgia Softball team is on the road this weekend in Fayetteville, Arkansas as they will attempt to improve upon their polished 6-0  conference record, but more importantly to keep alive their current 16-game winning streak. The SEC series with Arkansas is always one that has been intriguing to say the least. There is always one or two match-ups between the two that are very close, such as last year’s first two games of the contest. Arkansas is not known for having stellar pitching, but Mike Larabee has always seemed to have it figured out how and what to throw to Georgia Bulldog hitters. With such a diverse offense this year, I hope we are able to smack the ball hard against the Arkansas rotation to help make the work for our pitchers that much easier.

Georgia leads the all-time series between the Dawgs and the Hogs by a 29-14 margin, despite only taking two of three from them last season. This year, these early conference wins for the Bulldogs are going to be what puts the most pressure on some of the more dominant teams in the conference: Tennessee, Florida, and Texas A&M to name a few. With a good enough lead in the Win-Loss department, Georgia could really make it tough for Missouri, Tennessee, and Florida to steal away the SEC East. I really like the way our pitching strategy worked last night against Georgia Southern, and combine that with the flaming hot bats, and I think we have this whole winning thing figured out for now…hopefully! 😀

Mike Larabee’s Razorbacks have amassed a 22-13 record on the season and are 0-6 in conference play after being swept by the likes of Texas A&M and Florida–two very strong SEC programs! Arkansas did not look like an 0-6 SEC team by any means against these two SEC foes either, playing three of the six games in incredibly close fashion. In their most recent SEC outing, Arkansas lost a heartbreaker to Florida 1-0 on a walk-off home run in the bottom of the seventh by Kelsey Horton. No doubt about it, after losing in such close fashion and after stealing a game from the Dawgs last year, Arkansas is going to enter the game with a cut-throat mentality! We are going to have to play great ball, not only because we are the only undefeated team in conference play, but because these wins are going to be what gives our girls confidence in the coming weeks!

At the dish, the Arkansas hitters are batting a .305 clip with 38 home runs, nine of which belong to sophomore slugger and 2012 SEC Rookie of the Year, Devon Wallace. Wallace plays first baseman for the Hogs, but is known predominantly for her power numbers and average at the plate. Last year, Wallace hit a pair of blasts off of us in Athens, she hit two long balls off of California’s Jolene Henderson in the NCAA tournament, and overall made pitchers look bad all season long. Despite being in a hitting slump of sorts (Wallace was 0-10 in the Florida series), we cannot take that for granted and assume that this talented hitter is going to do the same against us. But dang, it sure would be nice to look at film from the Florida series to see what to throw this girl, haha! Wallace is second on the team in average (.410) and has 19 RBI off 9 long balls. The leading hitter for Mike Larabee’s team is rookie slapper, Stephanie Canfield. Canfield is batting a .481 clip with one home run and 14 RBI. At the top of the order, if not held in check, Wallace and Canfield will wreck havoc on opposing defenses!

Devon Wallace connects for a home run in a game against Tennessee in 2012.

Devon Wallace connects for a home run in a game against Tennessee in 2012. (Courtesy Arkansas Athletics)

In the circle, Arkansas has relied on a variety of pitchers, although Chelsea Cohen and Kimmy Beasley have been the go-to hurlers as of late. Cohen enters the three-game series with Georgia with a 10-6 record, a modest 2.57 ERA, and has fanned 110 batters in only 92.2 innings pitched. On the other hand, Arkansas sophomore hurler Kimmy Beasley has amassed a 4-5 record to go along with a 2.77 ERA and 75 strikeouts in 53 innings pitched. I would expect to see more than these two pitchers though, as Hope McLemore has always had great success against the Dawgs with her killer change-up. Her change-up looks like it is thrown at about 30MPH and drops off the table pretty nicely at times. The last thing we need is to be neutralized by a steady diet of off-speed pitching this weekend, although I suspect whatever pitch is thrown close to the plate will be hit hard somewhere! 😀

With the team batting line-up being raised again after the mid-week contest against Georgia Southern, the Dawgs continue to lead the SEC and country in batting average with a .367 clip and also have blasted a whopping, nation-leading 60 home runs. Hard work, dedication, and taking time to really LEARN the game is proving to make all the difference in the world. The girls have committed to learning the method the coaches are teaching, and better yet, they have committed to the G! Beat the Hogs this weekend, girls! Sic’ EM!

As always, Go Dawgs!

#CommitToTheG          #BeatArkansas          #WhoSmellsBacon          #BombSquadPuppies

Friday, March 29
• No. 22/23 Georgia vs. Arkansas – 7 p.m. ET

Wednesday, March 27
• No. 22/23 Georgia vs. Arkansas – 2 p.m. ET
• No. 22/23 Georgia vs. Arkansas – 4 p.m. ET

 

Senior Christine Olney relays a ball to the infield in a game against Ole Miss.

Senior Christine Olney relays a ball to the infield in a game against Ole Miss. (Courtesy GeorgiaDogs.com, shot by Evan Stichler)

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