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

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