Georgia Edged by Georgia State, Takes One of Three from No.2 Florida

Apparently when you reach a certain limit of data using the WordPress blog site, you have to pay to upgrade your blog storage and capacity. I have been wanting to blog over the past few days, especially after the convincing win over Florida in Game 1 of the series, but tonight I just now got around to paying the $100.00 fee to upgrade the blog capacity. I apologize for you Dawg fans who have been waiting on a new article to surface. Nevertheless, here we go!

In last week’s Wednesday showdown with Georgia State, the Panthers from Atlanta would end up edging a very low-energy looking Georgia squad in 10-7 fashion. When the contest began, rain was falling very steadily and was giving the GSU defense/pitching a lot of issues. Georgia went on top first thanks to a two out solo home run off the bat off Katie Browne. The two teams would trade blows back and forth until the final frame when Georgia State pulled ahead by two runs. With two outs and runners on first and second, Geri Ann Glasco stepped into the circle with the weight of the world hanging on her shoulders. Without hesitation, Geri Ann promptly doubled to the gap in left center field and drove in the the two runners on base to tie the game. Unfortunately for Georgia, Georgia State would rally in the top of the 8th inning to score three runs, two which came from an Alford two-run bomb. Georgia went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the 8th and fell to their first in-state foe of the year. This was the first time since the year 2000 that Georgia fell to the Panthers of Georgia State.

The girls did not have much time to hang their heads down low, as they travelled to Gainesville for a three-game series with (2/3)Florida. Despite losing to Georgia State, I got over it fairly quickly because of the uncharacteristic way that the girls played. The rain seemed to cause us to over think some very easy plays on the infield, and it also seemed that we were throwing the ball WAY too fat to some of the GSU hitters. Hats off to the Georgia State Panthers on a very well played game in Athens!

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In Florida, I was a tad bit worried about how the girls were going to come out and respond after dropping the final Wednesday game of the year to Georgia State. I found myself constantly reassuring myself that we could win the series with Florida, or take a game at the very least, after losing to Upstate the week before and still managing to sweep the Texas A&M Aggies. Although the Dawgs managed to win only a lone game against the Florida Gators, I still felt very good about the way our pitching kept us in all three contests. If anything, we seemed to play the opposite of the way we usually do while in the Swamp. What I mean when I say that is that we played some All-Star web gem defense in game three, pitched well in all three games, but could not find the timely offense that we so often do. Either way, I could not be more proud of this young group of Bulldogs for taking a game and playing three very competitive games with one of the best teams in the nation.

In the first game of the series, the rookie pitcher-catcher duo of Chelsea Wilkinson and Katie Browne would provide all of the in-game heroics necessary to beat the nation’s second-ranked team. In the top of the fifth inning, Katie Browne doubled in Anna Swafford from first base with two outs. The Bulldogs added on two more runs in the top of the 7th inning thanks to another Katie Browne double and an infield slap single off the bat of Samantha LaZear. The Gators threatened in the bottom of the final frame, tacking on two runs after drawing a bases-loaded walk and after a Lauren Haeger SAC fly to left field. With two outs, Chelsea Wilkinson got Kelsey Horton to ground out to third base to seal the contest. Wilkinson threw a gem, surrendering only two earned runs, all while striking out a career-high 14 Florida batters. Chelsea truly showed how good she is going to be for the Bulldogs over the next few years, and to think this is all only the beginning of what she is going to be capable of.

Georgia lost Game 2 and Game 3 by 5-2 and 5-0 scores, respectively. Tess Sito got Georgia on the board first in Game 2 by hitting a 2-run double down the left field line, but this is all the offense the Bulldogs would get for the rest of the series as Lauren Haeger and Hannah Rogers were brilliant for the rest of the weekend. Lauren Haeger proved to be the Achilles heal for the Dawgs, as she hit two home runs combined in the last two contests, one a game-winning home run off Glasco in Game 2, and a solo shot off of Montemayor in Game 3 that helped pad the lead in the final outing. Despite losing the final two outings, I was very pleased with the way Geri Ann pitched up until the fourth inning in the second game, and I was equally as pleased with how Chelsea pitched in the final contest. If we would have got off to a better start on defense in the third contest, I think our momentum would have carried us to score at least 1-2 runs rather than being shut out.

Despite starting strong, the Bulldogs would lose the series 2-1. The defense made some spectacular plays in the series finale, especially the diving catch by Niaja Griffin in CF. Tess Sito made some beautiful over-the-shoulder catches in Game 3 as well, and Paige Wilson made a plethora of great stops and throws as well. I bet our defense saved 5-6 hits in the series finale, essentially preventing any notion of a run-rule victory for the Gators in Game 3.

Morgan Montemayor pitches in one of her two appearances against Florida in Gainesville. (Courtesy UGA’s Brother Photography)

We were in no way, shape, or form predicted to win even a single game against the Gators, and yet we managed to win the first game of the series and also pitch well and play three close contests. This all reminds me of 2009 when Georgia did not play their best in SEC play, in turn getting swept by Florida and losing the series with Alabama, but all while still managing to claw their way into the World Series. This year is no different, the talent is there, and the pitching is certainly emerging! Chelsea Wilkinson reminds me of a hybrid version of Erin Arevalo mixed with Brittany Mack from LSU. She is mixing up speeds, locations, and spins right now and finding a lot of success against a wide variety of SEC opponents. She seems to be reaching her Ace potential at an integral part of the season–leaving no doubt in my mind that she will be one of the key players in Georgia making a deep run in the post season.

I am very excited for this weekend’s series against LSU, especially for the Pink Jersey game on Sunday. It will be a sad weekend as the Bulldogs bid farewell to outgoing seniors Maya Branch, Tess Sito, and Christine Olney, but one cannot say enough for how happy and proud Georgia fans are of these three young ladies! Go Tess! Go Maya! Go Christine! I want to see these Seniors kick some butt in their last three games at home in the confines of Jack Turner Stadium.

As always, Go Dawgs!

#RoadToWCWS          #WeBelieve          #CommitToTheG

23rd-Ranked Bulldogs Host Georgia State in Midweek Showdown

The 23rd-ranked University of Georgia Softball team welcomes the Georgia State Panthers to Jack Turner Stadium for the final midweek contest of the year. Georgia leads the all-time series over the Panthers by a decisive 10-2 margin and has not lost to Georgia State since 2000. In last year’s meeting between the two in-state foes, Georgia claimed a 7-0 victory. In the meeting before that, the two teams faced off in the 2011 Athens NCAA Regional where Georgia claimed an 8-0 run-rule victory over the Panthers. Georgia State is a program on the rise and has had much success in 2013 under Head Coach Roger Kincaid. I am looking forward to the game tomorrow, as it should be a good one!

Georgia State enters Athens with a 32-16 record, including an impressive 10-5 CAA conference record. The Panthers are coming off of a three-game sweep of the Drexel Dragons, and have now won six games in a row dating back to a 1-0 victory over UNC Wilmington. Georgia State made a visit to Athens back during Fall Ball and was defeated twice in two very good contests. At that time, I was impressed with the offense of the Panthers, although they have a steady array of pitchers also. It is worth mentioning that Georgia State has recorded a 1-2 record against SEC teams in 2013. The Panthers lost to Mississippi State 9-1 in their season-opening tournament before defeating Auburn 4-1 and losing to Alabama 9-1. This team pulled off a major upset over Alabama last year just before they went on to win the National Championship, so it goes without saying that the Panthers are a very capable program.

On offense, Georgia State is led by Callie Alford. Alford is leading the team in average with a .363 clip and has driven in 41 runs on the season to go along with 9 home runs. After being injured for most of the season, Senior star Paige Nowacki has returned to the Panther line-up and is batting a .211 clip with 12 home runs. Despite her comparatively low batting average, Paige Nowacki is a difference maker for this program and has been for four years. She is great in the field and is even better at the plate. Needless to say, we cannot underestimate this player based on her uncharacteristic numbers in 2013.

Despite getting off to a relatively sluggish start, the Georgia State pitching staff has really picked up the slack as of late. In the circle, the Panthers are led by Kaitlyn Medlam who has amassed a 17-6 record in 2013 to go along with a 2.29 ERA, 159 innings pitched, and 97 strikeouts. Behind her, Katie Worley has earned a 12-9 record, 3.27 ERA, and has fanned 92 batters in 130.2 innings thrown.

Georgia State’s Kaitlyn Medlam delivers a pitch in a 2013 contest (Courtesy Georgia State Athletics)

Any time two in-state foes come together, crazy things can happen. Georgia State has played some close games in the past with our Bulldogs, and I would expect them to come out fighting hard tomorrow to pull off the upset. I have no idea who the coaches will turn to in the circle, although with Montemayor’s hot weekend, it couldn’t hurt to turn to her. If we are lucky, we may get to use multiple pitchers tomorrow in order to get some innings in before the big Florida series.

Georgia is back in the Top 25 after several weeks of being unranked. Georgia currently sits at #23 in the USA Softball Top 25 after a three-game sweep of the then-#13 Texas A&M Aggies. I think being back in the poll is often overrated, but in this case should give some of the younger Dawgs some much-needed confidence and swagger. The girls are playing very confidently right now and I really hope they can keep it up against some very good programs to close the regular season on a good note!

Don’t forget fans, tomorrow’s game against Georgia State is $1 Hot Dog Night at Jack Turner Stadium! Come out and have a great time with us!

As always, Go Dawgs!

#WeRunThisState          #CommitToTheG         #RoadToWCWS

Kaylee “Moose” Puailoa Named SEC Freshman of the Week

This one has been a long time coming as Kaylee “Moose” Puailoa earned her first ever SEC award, being named the SEC Freshman of the Week after her dominating performance at the plate against Upstate and 13th-ranked Texas A&M. Kaylee has such a beautiful swing and is making a ton of in-game adjustments as of late that are allowing her to hit the change-up and hit for more power.  This may be the first SEC award for Kaylee, but I would expect her to garner her fair share of accolades before her years as a Bulldog are over. Go Kaylee!

On the week, Kaylee went 5-11 (.455 average) at the plate and registered a base hit in each of Georgia’s four games. Moose began the week by stroking her 10th double of the 2013 campaign in the outing against USC-Upstate, and she continued her hot streak by tallying a hit in each of the games against Texas A&M, including a towering home run in Saturday’s game that tied the game at 5-5. In that contest, Kaylee reached base in all four plate appearances. Although this is the first SEC weekly award for Kaylee Puailoa, it is the fifth time this season that Georgia has had a rookie named Freshman of the Week. Geri Ann Glasco has earned the award three times, while Tina and Kaylee have now each garnered it once.

You may hear cheers coming from the Georgia dugout and from people in the stands, myself included, that resembles a chorus of booing. Do not be fooled by this, as you are really hearing the routine cheer for Kaylee Puailoa. When the powerful lefty hitter steps into the box, chants of “Mooooooose” fill Jack Turner Stadium. If you look even closer, you can find the girls in the dugout holding their hands above their heads to resemble moose antlers.

When I asked Kaylee about where the nickname came from, she said that it kind of happened out of nowhere.

“On the Lakewood ladies team for coach Jorge Aurajo, we would have long practices and being the young ladies we were, our attention span was limited. I was at first base with Breana West, who is now playing for Cal Poly, and we always had our little fun. One day we decided to make nicknames and she came up with Moose! She kept calling me Moose and sooner or later so was everyone else, along with the coaches.”

Despite Kaylee’s efforts to return the favor by giving her teammate an animal nickname, she found no success. It seemed that she was destined to go by “Moose” and it has stuck ever since.

“Everyone always asks me why Moose? It sounds like a big ugly animal, but for some reason I’ve always responded to it,” says the rookie slugger.

With the power numbers and clutch hitting that this young lady has been putting up, I think her nickname may be pretty dang accurate. She is strong, maybe as strong as the proverbial Moose that her teammates have compared her to…or maybe stronger! Kaylee is a great athlete and an even greater kid! I cannot wait to see how well she does in a Georgia uniform in 2013 and for years to come!

Kaylee Puailoa tallies a hit in a 2013 game at Jack Turner Stadium (Courtesy GeorgiaDogs.com, shot by Evan Stichler)

Bulldogs Sweep 13th-Ranked Texas A&M

(VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS HERE)
Georgia Softball earned their second Southeastern Conference series in as many weekends, this time thanks to a three-game sweep of the 13th-ranked Texas A&M Aggies. After winning 3-1 on Friday and 12-7 on Saturday, Georgia finished up the weekend strong with a hard-fought 6-3 victory over the Aggies. Morgan Montemayor picked up the win in the circle on Saturday and Sunday, improving her record to 11-6 on the 2013 campaign. On Sunday, MoMo pitched five innings, gave up one earned run, struck out two, and walked just one batter. This sport is all about timely leadership and getting “hot” at the right time of the season…if you ask me, I think the girls are all stepping up big time, especially the pitching staff! Today’s game, once again, gave us an opportunity to see how good we can really be when we play error-free ball and have smart base-running to go along with some STELLAR pitching!

Thoughts go out to Aggie senior pitcher, Mel Dumezich, on a speedy recovery if she is indeed in pain or injured. One must assume that she is hurt after not seeing her in the line-up whatsoever in the final two games. The Aggies are a superb team with her in the circle, but this weekend showed how vulnerable they can be when they do not score runs behind their second and third string pitchers. I wish all the best of luck to A&M for the remainder of the season!

On another note, I really hope this win can get us back into one or both of the Top 25 Polls. I think that would really boost the girls’ confidence even more and get them pumped up for the big series with Florida next weekend! Without a doubt, the RPI will get a big boost after beating the #12 RPI team back-to-back-to-back in convincing fashion. The motto for this year’s team should definitely focus on finishing strong, after all, it is all about how you respond and how you finish! It is an exciting time to be a Georgia Softball fan, as I think this team has endless potential and is really going to come on even stronger here in the closing two weeks of SEC play. We have to face the Gators in Gainesville before coming home to host the LSU Tigers in Athens. It is not going to be easy, but we all know that already! Hard work pays off, Dawgs! Keep it up!

Tina Iosefa hit a 2-run home run and was 3-4 at the plate on Sunday against Texas A&M

Tina Iosefa hit a 2-run home run and was 3-4 at the plate on Sunday against Texas A&M (Courtesy GeorgiaDogs.com, shot by Evan Stichler)

In today’s outing, the weather was beautiful and the crowd was even better! Georgia got the scoring going in the opening frame of the contest thanks in part to a leadoff slap single up the middle by Niaja Griffin. Man, Aja was a tough out to come by this weekend for the Aggies…seeing nothing but good from Niaja right now! Love it! After Niaja singled and stole second base, she would eventually be knocked in off a two-out RBI single from Kaylee Puailoa! It’s the Year of the Moooooose, ladies and gentlemen! The best part of this plate appearance by Moose was that she did not have to do anything fancy to score Aja from second. With two strikes on her, Kaylee simply hit a single into right field off the end of the bat on a pretty good change-up from A&M’s Ainsley. Could we finally be sitting back on the off-speed and driving it? This is a huge improvement and has caused us grief in the past, so it goes without saying that it is awesome to see us hit a plethora of good hits this weekend off of Ainsley’s change-up.

In the top of the 2nd inning, the Aggies loaded the bases and scored two runs off a slap single up the middle off the bat of Brittany Clopton. In the bottom of the frame, all while trailing 2-1, Tess Sito laid down a beautiful bunt single and then promptly stole second base. Anna Swafford followed by drawing a walk and advanced to second after Katie Browne sacrifice bunted both runners over. A fielder’s choice slap off the bat of Sam LaZear tied the contest at 2-2, and Niaja Griffin continued her hot streak with a slap RBI single to the pitcher. Georgia would hold off scoring any more runs until the sixth inning when Tina Iosefa belted a two-run home run off the foul pole in left field. The bomb by Tina was her 14th of the season and Georgia’s nation-leading 82nd of the 2013 season. Georgia would add one last insurance run off a pinch-hit single from Christine Olney that was stroked hard into right field.

Texas A&M tried to mount a rally after a leadoff home run in the 7th inning off the bat of Amber Garza. This was Garza’s second home run of the weekend after she crushed a pitch from Chelsea Wilkinson earlier in the series. This would be all of the scoring that Texas A&M would be able to manage as Morgan Montemayor made a web gem snag off a rocket up the middle from Nicole Morgan just before popping up Meagan May for the final out of the contest. With the win, Georgia improves to 34-15 on the year and 11-7 in SEC play. With the loss, the 13th-ranked Aggies fall to 35-12 overall and 6-11 in conference play.

Samantha LaZear relays a throw back to the infield in a game against Texas A&M

Samantha LaZear relays a throw back to the infield in a game against Texas A&M (Courtesy GeorgiaDogs.com, shot by Evan Stichler)

The defense looks much better, LaZear and Niaja are on fire, and pitching is absolutely dominating! It is worth noting that Niaja and Sam combined to go 12-23 (.523 average) this week. WOW! What a great weekend of Georgia Bulldog Softball, eh Dawg fans? Not only have our speedy lefties been absolute Hell on opposing defenses as of late, but our bats are becoming more and more clutch with each and every game. The thing that is so awesome about this year’s squad is that when one of the players are not producing in a certain game or situation, another kid steps up and makes a big play, throws a good pitch, or gets a clutch hit. There is no definitive superstar on this team, despite each and every girl putting up absolute STUD numbers this season. There is a positive energy surrounding this young club right now and I truly think the sky is the limit! The question marks that were surrounding this year’s squad were never a matter of “If” but rather a question concerning “When” they would settle in and start shaping up. I think that time is NOW and I am so excited to get to see the girls face off against two talented SEC squads in the form of the Florida Gators and LSU Tigers.

Before heading to the Swamp for a three-game series with Florida, Georgia will face Georgia State  on Wednesday at 6pm in the friendly confines of Jack Turner Stadium. Wednesday night’s contest with Georgia State is “$1 Hot Dog Night” fans so be sure to come pig out and see some great softball. 😀

As always, Go Dawgs!

#CommitToTheG          #BombSquadPuppies          #RoadToWCWS

Tess Sito slides into second base on a beautifully executed steal against Texas A&M

Tess Sito slides into second base on a beautifully executed steal against Texas A&M (Courtesy GeorgiaDogs.com, shot by Evan Stichler)

Georgia Homers Three Times, Secures Series Over Texas A&M

(VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS HERE)

On a night where the Georgia Bulldogs found themselves facing a 5-0 deficit in the bottom of the first inning, the girls from Athens managed to rally and make an outstanding comeback against the 13th-ranked Texas A&M Aggies. Despite taking the early blow on the back of two Aggie home runs, Georgia battled back with some bombs of their own to win the game a by a final score of 12-7. Morgan Montemayor picked up the series-securing victory to improve to 10-6 on the season. It was really nice to see the Dawgs be able to generate a lot of power and momentum while being down in such a huge hole. It is reassuring to know that our solid hitting can keep us in the game at any given point, no matter what inning it is and no matter the score. With the win, Georgia improves their overall record to 33-15 on the year, while improving to 10-7 in SEC play.

Morgan Montemayor was brilliant against Texas A&M Saturday evening, striking out 8 Aggie batters. (Courtesy The Red & Black)

Chelsea Wilkinson started off the game and got things going in similar fashion to the first game of the series. Although Wilkinson struck out the first two Aggie batters, Texas A&M would respond with a string of hits, including two home runs to put them in front by a 5-0 score in the opening frame. Morgan Montemayor was brought in to pitch with two outs in the first inning and she would end up giving Georgia an absolutely wonderful performance for 6.1 innings. In the bottom of the second inning, Kaylee Puailoa singled up the middle and Tina Iosefa drew a four-pitch walk to put runners on first and second base with nobody out. Then, Anna Swafford (3-4, 3 RBI) got her stellar night at the plate going with an RBI single to score Puailoa. Still trailing 4-1 and this time with the bases loaded, Christine Olney delivered a 2-run hit up the middle to bring the score to 5-3. Katie Browne singled and came around to score on a passed ball by Aggie pitcher, Lauren Ainsley. In the bottom of the third inning, Georgia managed to tie the game at 5-5 via a Kaylee Puailoa home run. A few batters later, Anna Swafford put the Dawgs on top with a single that was scorched through the left side.

The scoring pattern would continue for the Georgia Bulldogs in the bottom of the fourth inning. Niaja Griffin led off the frame by being plunked by a pitch, followed by a BEAUTIFUL drag bunt single by Paige Wilson. Geri Ann Glasco followed with an absolutely CRUSHED bomb to center field to put the Dawgs on top by a 9-5 margin. Tonight’s home run by Glasco was her 18th of the season and it helped increase her league-leading RBI total to 56 runs driven in. With two outs in the same inning, Tess Sito doubled and ended up scoring on a triple by Anna Swafford to bring the score to 10-5. The Bulldogs refused to lay down and settle for a five run lead as they added two more runs in the bottom of the fifth thanks to Paige Wilson’s 12th home run of the season. Texas A&M would manage to plate a run in both the 6th and 7th innings, but would fail to rally back against the Bulldogs as Georgia took Game 2 by a 12-7 final. How about the studly web gem snag in mid-air by Tess Sito to end the game?! Atta girl, Sito!

Morgan Montemayor pitched a great game tonight, going 6.1 innings, surrendering two earned runs, and striking out 8 Texas A&M batters. This is the Morgan Montemayor that I remember back in her debut in 2010 and this is the MoMo that will help Georgia deep into the postseason in 2013. Keep up the hard work, MoMo! Chelsea got roughed up a bit early, despite striking out the first two Aggie hitters, and I think we will continue to see her get plenty of innings in SEC play. I think the Aggies sat back and let the ball get a little deeper today than they did yesterday, and they simply seemed to have figured out CW’s game plan. I think if the coaches are going to rely a lot on the backdoor curve and slow curve in Chelsea’s first outing of a series, then they need to take a different approach in the second game she pitches. Perhaps a drop ball/rise ball combo to contrast the backdoor curve/slow curve/screw combo of the first day? Just some food for thought. Either way, CW was brilliant in Game 1 and Morgan was just as good in her outing tonight. I wonder if we will get to see Geri Ann in tomorrow’s contest or if the coaches will go back to Morgan or Chelsea? I am fine with whatever decisions the coaches make, especially since we have already won the series over the 13th-ranked team in the nation! Woo-hoo! 😀

Some of the errors and base-running mistakes reared their heads in today’s outing, although the girls continued building momentum and pounded out a whopping 18 hits off of three different Texas A&M pitchers. As I stated yesterday, it appears that Dumezich is injured or being rested because she did not hit or pitch in Game 2. I really wish we would get a chance to see her throw, as it would be great preparation for Florida, LSU, and the post season. Tonight’s game helped to highlight some of our keys to success, more specifically the need to get on base in front of our big hitters. Niaja Griffin and Sam LaZear went a combined 4-7 to really set the table for some monster hits. With both of these young ladies consistently getting on base, it not only increases our momentum and scoring opportunities, but it really has the ability to put lots of pressure on opposing defenses, in turn getting in their heads! I said it last night, and I will repeat myself again tonight: SPEED KILLS!!!

Kaylee Puailoa hit her 15th home run of the season against Texas A&M on Saturday evening. (Courtesy The Red & Black)

It brings me great joy to say this: Georgia finds themselves going for the series sweep over a very good Texas A&M squad tomorrow in Athens at 1PM. Be sure to come out and support the Bulldogs because, as always, admission is FREE and there will be plenty of fun opportunities for the younger fans!

Super proud of these Dawg softball players and coaches! Way to go!

As always, Go Dawgs!

#CommitToTheG          #SicEm          #RoadToWCWS

Wilkinson Dominates as Georgia Defeats 13th-Ranked Aggies

(VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS HERE)

Georgia made no errors. They did not make any mental mistakes on the bases either. But, what the Georgia Softball team did make on Friday evening at a rainy Jack Turner Stadium was a resounding statement. On the back of a brilliant performance in the circle from Chelsea Wilkinson, Georgia never trailed and defeated the 13th-ranked Texas A&M Aggies by a final score of 3-1. Wilkinson went the distance, allowing 3 hits (2 being weak infield singles), giving up one earned run, and fanning a career-high 12 batters. With the career-high dozen strikeouts, Chelsea Wilkinson also set a new season-high for the entire pitching staff. Some of us fans here in Dawg Land have been getting a lot of good vibes from Chelsea’s outings lately, and watching her absolutely dominate one of the nation’s best offenses tonight reassured a lot of what we have been thinking: this kid is going to be the real deal, folks!

Chelsea Wilkinson in action against Texas A&M on a wet Friday evening in Athens.

Chelsea Wilkinson in action against Texas A&M on a wet Friday evening in Athens. (Courtesy GeorgiaDogs.com, shot by John Kelly)

Georgia got on the board in the opening frame of the contest when Niaja Griffin singled and stole second base, all before reaching third base on a throw that sailed into center field from the arm of Megan May behind the plate. Paige Wilson followed with a shot that almost sailed over the wall, but instead bounced back in to play to be scored an RBI double. Geri Ann followed with a single through the left side, but would be left stranded despite the Dawgs scoring a run on yet another bad throw from Megan May. Kaylee Puailoa struck out, but the ball got away from May in the dirt and the the throw to first was errant, sailing into right field and scoring Paige from third base. Two runs would be the only scoring either team saw until the Aggies got on the board in the top of the third inning. With runners on first and second after a HBP and a walk, Megan May redeemed her errant throws with a soft RBI single up the middle. Wilkinson escaped the jam by fanning the following batter. Despite multiple scoring opportunities, Georgia waited until the sixth inning to add on an insurance run. With runners on second and third with two outs, Sam LaZear placed a perfect slap hit to the shortstop, allowing the runner from third to score and make it a 3-1 ball game. Chelsea Wilkinson (5-2) retired the final three batters of the game in order and picked up the win, going the distance while fanning an incredible 12 opposing batters.

Picking up the loss in the circle for the Aggies was their second string hurler, Lauren Ainsley (11-4). I am not sure what is going on with Mel Dumezich, but I noticed that I did not see her throwing in the bullpen at all throughout the entire night. Although she did not pitch, she was batting clean-up in the lineup, despite not reaching base a single time in the contest. I hope there is nothing wrong with Dumezich as far as her pitching is concerned because I want our Bulldogs to be able to get a glimpse of some good pitching before the trip down to Gainesville to play the Gators. Although she has not faced as much of the tough competition this year for the Aggies, Lauren Ainsley still did a pretty good job in the circle. Ainsley surrendered three runs, two earned, and struck out four batters. The Bulldogs left seven runners on base in the contest, and this was the only concerning thing I saw in the contest to be quite honest. But hey, I will take 7 runners LOB versus 11,12, 13+ any day of the week! 😀

So how about our slappers making big things happen as of late? Niaja Griffin led off the game with a hard hit single into center field and would eventually come around to score on Paige Wilson’s double off the top of the wall. In the sixth inning, hungry for some insurance runs, Sam LaZear provided just that with an RBI fielder’s choice that was perfectly executed. I am hoping that our slap hitters will keep finding ways to get on base when it matters in order to give us more and more chances to score both early and late in these games against tough SEC teams! Speed kills!!! Go Sam! Go Aja!

Rookie slapper and center fielder, Sam LaZear, batted 1-2 with an RBI for the Bulldogs on Friday evening.

Rookie slapper and center fielder, Sam LaZear, batted 1-2 with an RBI for the Bulldogs on Friday evening. (Courtesy GeorgiaDogs.com, shot by John Kelly)

Georgia will return to the field tomorrow (Saturday) at 4pm to face off against the Aggies in Game 2 of this Southeastern Conference series. It would make sense to go back to Wilkinson in the circle, but then again you never know what will happen. It will be harder for Chelsea to dominate tomorrow with the Aggies having already seen her for a full game, but if she can mix the game plan up and attack different zones then I think she will find another heap of success! Words cannot describe how awesome CW was in the circle this evening. Not only was pitching great, but our base-running was crisp and aggressive, and our defense did not make a single error. Anna Swafford played a beastly third base tonight, while Paige Wilson and Tess Sito made some great plays in the middle infield also. If we can keep playing error-free, then we have a shot to beat anyone in the country! I am so proud of this team! It is all about getting hot at the right time and could this be the time? Let’s hope so!!!

As always, Go Dawgs!!!

#BeatTAMU          #SicEm          #CommitToTheG

Paige Wilson cheering her team on in the rain after doubling in Niaja Griffin in the first inning against Texas A&M on Friday.

Paige Wilson cheering her team on in the rain after doubling in Niaja Griffin in the first inning against Texas A&M on Friday. (Courtesy GeorgiaDogs.com, shot by John Kelly)

Georgia Edged by Upstate, Prepares to Host Texas A&M This Weekend

In what may be one of the more unusual stat sheets of the season, the USC-Upstate Spartans managed to edge the Georgia Bulldogs by a final score of 8-5, despite only registering 4 hits through the entire seven inning contest. Georgia led the game 4-0 after two innings and Chelsea Wilkinson threw 4 innings of perfect ball. Nonetheless, costly errors and a wretched call at second base sealed Georgia’s fate as they were unable to mount a comeback against a very talented and well-coached Spartans team. While the loss was somewhat disheartening, there were a lot of positive things to be taken away from the contest. Chelsea Wilkinson was absolutely wonderful in the circle and is heating up at the perfect time for the Dawgs! Not only this, but the Bulldogs pounded out 11 hits off a very talented Upstate pitching staff, despite scoring only 5 runs in the outing.

No offense to the Spartans, but if Georgia is going to be more competitive and go far in the post season, we are going to have to fight in the face of adversity and beat any mid-major programs that we face, Upstate being no exception. The girls tried to rally in both the sixth and seventh innings, but alas could not get timely hitting from the power hitters to score the slappers that had reached base. The good thing that can be drawn from this outing is that both Niaja Griffin and Sam LaZear are on fire at the plate and are finding consistent ways to get on base for our big hitters. This loss to Upstate means nothing in the long run, as the girls should be focused on beating the teams we need to beat in conference. The best teams in the country have very short memories and learn to use the painful losses as game fuel to power their aggression. Here’s hoping for a great weekend against some very stiff competition in the form of the Texas A&M Aggies!

Sophomore slap-hitter Niaja Griffin went 3-4 on Wednesday against USC Upstate.

Sophomore slap-hitter Niaja Griffin went 3-4 on Wednesday against USC Upstate. (Courtesy GeorgiaDogs.com, shot by Evan Stichler)

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On Friday, Georgia welcomes the 11th-ranked Texas A&M Aggies to Jack Turner Stadium for the first game of what should prove to be a very exciting three-game SEC series. Not only is Texas A&M having a great year thus far, but it is noteworthy that 2013 marks the Aggies first year as members of the Southeastern Conference. I can think of no better way to welcome the Aggies to the SEC than with a Bulldog series win! 😀

Texas A&M enters Athens with an impressive 35-9 record, despite sporting a 6-8 conference record. If that does not attest to just how tough of a conference the SEC is, then I do not know what does. In their most recent SEC outing, the Aggies dropped two out of their three games against the LSU Tigers in College Park. TAMU has beaten their fair share of ranked foes this year…Alabama, Missouri, UCLA, Louisiana-Lafayette, and LSU to name just a few. The Aggies are one of the more powerful hitting teams in the SEC and can hit the long ball at just about any pitstop in the batting order. The Aggies have hit a whopping 76 bombs on the year, just three less than our nation-leading Bulldogs. No doubt about it, pitching is going to have to step up big time against this feared Aggies line-up in order to stand a chance against some of their offensive talent, but with the way Chelsea Wilkinson has been throwing, I would look to her to get one or two starts this weekend.

The Aggies are led at the plate by sophomore slugger, Nicole Morgan. Morgan is batting a .372 clip with 14 home runs and 48 RBI, while stellar rookie Cali Lanphear is batting .359 with 15 home runs and 43 runs driven in. These two young ladies supply a large portion of the power on this Aggies squad, although TAMU has three other batters who have all belted ten home runs on the season (May, Dumezich, and Tycarczyk). The scary thing about this batting order is that they can take you deep at any stop along the way 1-9, and they also have speedy lefties placed in the order also. No doubt about it, this team knows how to score runs against any pitching they see, hence why we are really going to have to buckle down on defense and make it easier on our pitchers than we have been as of late. LSU was able to dominate the TAMU hitters for the most part, and I think if we can come out firing on all cylinders in this series that we have a good chance of scoring more runs than the Aggies in at least two of the contests.

It would be extremely naive to think that the Aggies have defeated the top-notch teams that they have on the back of a solid offense alone. This is certainly not the case in 2013. Mel Dumezich has proved to be the workhorse so far this year, as she has pitched 174 out of the 275 innings this season for the Aggies. Dumezich has amassed a 2.13 ERA to go along with a 23-6 record and has fanned 188 batters in 174 innings pitched. There is no denying that the TAMU squad relies heavily on good pitching performances from Dumezich, although they have often went to their #2 pitcher, Lauren Ainsley (11-3, 2.21 ERA), when needed. After watching Dumezich perform against LSU and against Tennessee, she has shown that while she is very talented, she can get rattled at times and give up the dreaded long ball. It helps that we tend to hit fast pitching well, and that we tend to hit a lot of long balls as well. If our slappers can stay hot and keep getting on base in front of our power hitters, expect the Dawgs to score their fair share of runs.

Texas A&M star pitcher, Mel Dumezich, in action during a 2013 game. (Courtesy ESPN.com)

Texas A&M is chock-full of talent in every position on the field, as well as in every spot in the batting order. Georgia is going to have to play the best they have the entire season and for a full seven innings in each contest. We have been a little inconsistent at times, but I know without a doubt that we can take 2/3 teams from these TAMU Aggies. What should help fuel the girls at this time of the year is the fact that there are so many people out there who are doubting what they can do. Outside noise, heartbreaking losses, and an aggressive attitude are surely serving as fuel to push this team to want to come out and dominate the Aggies. The fun thing is that this team has not yet fully reached its true potential, although the home stretch of the season is now and the finish line is barely in our sights. I have complete confidence and faith that this team is going to come out this weekend and play their hearts out for every out on the field. The key to winning is playing good ole’ fashioned Georgia Softball and making it a nightmare for the opponent to have to come in to Athens and play us.

When all is said and done, only one team will win the last game of the season, and the possibilities are endless as there is a lot of great talent playing between the chalk lines here in 2013. But, my point is that every team has their shot and their set of chances, and now is our time to grasp the opportunities and push hard to win! The goal is to win the last game of the season while picking up some very good, competitive wins along the way. I have said it once, and I will say it again: there is nothing scarier than a group of stud softballers that have all the confidence in the world. I believe in this team and know that great things are headed their way, although they are going to have to push themselves and play inspiring ball for a full 21 innings this weekend. I believe!!!

As always, Go Dawgs!!!

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