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.
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!
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