No. 21 Georgia Heads to Tempe, Arizona for NCAA Regionals

Our 21st-ranked Georgia Bulldogs have their work cut out for them as they head to the 2013 NCAA Tempe Regional in Tempe, Arizona. The NCAA Regional is the first step to the 2013 Women’s College World Series, as teams must win their respective Regionals, followed by winning a best 2 of 3 format in the Super Regional Round before making it to the big dance in Oklahoma City. Georgia is certainly no stranger to the Regionals, and in fact have made it to the Regional round in the past 12 seasons consecutively. Georgia is also very familiar with the Super Regionals, having made it there in the past 6 consecutive years. This year’s Regional Round sends Georgia across the country, approximately 1,900 miles, to Tempe, Arizona where the round will be hosted by the 5th-seeded Arizona State Sun Devils. Our Bulldogs will not be the only visitors to Tempe this weekend, as San Diego State and San Jose State are both also participating and vying for a spot into the Super Regionals.

Georgia is 1-2 overall against the teams featured in the Tempe Regional, including an 0-2 mark all time against the Sun Devils, and a 1-0 tally over the San Diego State Aztecs. Georgia has never faced off against the Spartans of San Jose State, although it is a possibility that the two teams may get the chance to play for the first time ever in Tempe this weekend. It is noteworthy that the Dawgs are 44-22 in program history while playing in the NCAA Tournament.

Georgia will face the first obstacle standing in their way of an NCAA Super Regional in the form of the San Diego State Aztecs. The Bulldogs and the Aztecs will square off on Friday at 3:30 ET on ESPNU before the host Sun Devils will play San Jose State (also on ESPNU). With a win, Georgia will face the winner of the Sun Devils and the Spartans, but with a loss the Bulldogs will play the loser of the aforementioned teams. In order to win the Regional Round, Georgia will either have to win three consecutive contests or battle their way through the lower bracket and defeat the team with the undefeated record twice.

A huge good luck is in order for the Dawgs, but it goes without saying that they are going to do us proud and fight down to their very last out! The girls have been playing extremely good ball as of late and I believe in this team’s ability to make it back to Oklahoma City for the first time in three years! The Bulldog nation will be watching, as the Tempe Regional is one of the select few Regional Rounds to be broadcast live on national television via the ESPNU and WatchEspn networks. Gooooo Dawgs, Sic’ Em!

Seniors Tess Sito and Christine Olney are looking to go out in style in their final NCAA Tournament.

Seniors Tess Sito and Christine Olney are looking to go out in style in their final NCAA Tournament. (Courtesy Twitter, shot by Evan Stichler)

If the Bulldogs can escape victoriously out of Tempe, which will not be an easy feat, I really like our chances in a Super Regional. If our Dawgs were to hypothetically win their Regional, they would face the winner of the Lexington Regional. The Lexington Regional features the host Kentucky Wildcats, the Irish of Notre Dame, as well as the Hokies of Virginia Tech and the Thundering Herd of Marshall. I would personally rather face any of those four teams over the Arizona State Sun Devils! What makes our Regional so much more difficult than the other Regionals is that the average RPI of teams in Tempe average out to be the highest RPI overall when compared to the four-team combos in other Regionals.

The host-team and national #5-seeded Arizona State Sun Devils enter the Tempe Regional with an impressive 45-10 record, with a minimal three losses coming at home. What makes the Sun Devils so dangerous is their ability to score lots of runs via their speed and power, all while possessing two dynamic and outstanding pitchers in the circle. You rarely find a team that can hit the ball as well and as hard as Arizona State does, but it is even more rare to find a team that has two pitchers like Dallas Escobedo and Mackenzie Popescue. Combine the deadly offensive numbers with their stellar pitching and you have one tough group in the form of the Sun Devils. While they have shown that they waiver at times, more particularly with some recent series losses to struggling Arizona and Pac-12 bottom feeders, Utah, the Sun Devils are a team that can regroup and reload from one outing to the next. It goes without saying that they will be a tough test, but I think our Dawgs have enough diversity in the circle and certainly enough offense to really do some damage while in Tempe.

In the circle, Arizona State is led by an excellent duo of junior hurlers in the form of Dallas Escobedo and Mackenzie Popescue. Not only is Dallas Escobedo a formidable opponent in the circle, but she has shown just how good she can be when she won the National Championship as a rookie in 2011 in the WCWS Finals against the Florida Gators. Dallas Escobedo enters post season play sporting a modest 2.31 ERA to go along with a fantastic 25-4 record. Dallas is the epitome of a pitcher that relies on the strikeout as she has fanned a whopping 289 batters in only 209 innings thrown. Although her numbers are slightly elevated this season, do not let them fool you because Escobedo has the experience and is the real deal. Escobedo is a phenomenal athlete, although when teams have been able to find a chink in her armor, she has often fell apart mid-game or been tagged for a plethora of runs. Escobedo relies predominantly on the rise ball and she has the ability to throw both a low rise ball and a rise ball out of the zone. What makes Dallas so good is her ability to make opposing batters guess as to whether she is coming with a low rise or high rise, although when teams have laid off of the high rise and waited on her to come into the zone, they have been very successful. It helps that Arizona State has the option to go to their solid co-Ace behind Escobedo in the form of Mackenzie Popescue. Popescue enters the Regional Round with a 19-6 record, a 2.03 earned run average, all while striking out 100 batters in 134.1 innings pitched. Popescue brings a totally different look from Escobedo in that she throws much slower, has a great off-speed and good precision. I feel confident about our plate discipline against Escobedo and I really do not think that Popescue would pose much of a challenge if we indeed get the opportunity to face her.

Arizona State’s Dallas Escobedo delivers a pitch in a 2013 contest. (Courtesy

Where Arizona State wreaks the most havoc, or at least in 2013, is at the plate. The Sun Devils are only one home run behind the Georgia Bulldogs with 89 bombs on the season. Not only can these girls from Tempe strike with power, but they also all hit for average. While the Sun Devils possess a lot of power at the plate, they also have an array of lefty slappers that set the table for the big hits. If Georgia can limit the power as well as the free passes, I think we will have a lot of success against the Sun Devils. Arizona State is led at the plate by Amber Freeman (.385, 16 HR, 58 RBI) and Bethany Kemp (.374, 9 HR, 23 RBI). It would be naive to think that these are the only two players who supply power and runs driven in for the Sun Devils as Sam Parlich (.360, 10 HR, 41 RBI) and Cheyenne Coyle (.364, 19 HR, 60 RBI) both are excellent at the dish also. Also worth noting, lefty slapper Bailey Wigness (.365) is third on the team in average and is a constant table setter for the Sun Devils. Clint Meyer’s Sun Devils are a formidable offense and one of the best in the country without a doubt. If Georgia can mix speeds and movement enough in the circle in order to keep ASU guessing, I think we can outscore them in some very close games.

ASU middle infielder and Florida-transfer, Cheyenne Coyle, fields a ball in a home game at Farrington Stadium.

ASU middle infielder and Florida-transfer, Cheyenne Coyle, fields a ball in a home game at Farrington Stadium. (Courtesy Arizona State Athletics)

Although the Sun Devils of Arizona State are certainly the favorite and top-seeded team in the Regional, it would be unwise to overlook our first match-up with a very dynamic San Diego State team. San Diego State comes into Tempe with a similar record to the Bulldogs at 35-18. The Aztecs are a very well-balanced team with respect to pitching, defense, and offensive performance. Although their power numbers and team average are much lower than the Dawgs, this San Diego State team has gotten some clutch power hitting from Lorena Bauer and Patrice Jackson. Lorena Bauer (.421, 13 HR, 49 RBI) and Patrice Jackson (.368, 14 HR, 41 RBI) are the team’s leading hitters for average, home runs, and RBIs. Georgia pitching has often fell susceptible to the long ball, and it will be imperative to keep these two Aztec hitters in the park in order to pull out a victory. Not to be overlooked, the Aztecs have found much of their success in 2013 on the back of their two main pitchers, rookie Danielle O’Toole and senior Rebecca Arbino. O’Toole enters the Regional with a 14-6 record to accompany her 1.71 ERA, all while having fanned 111 batters in 143 innings pitched. With more overall experience and innings in the circle, Arbino heads the pitching staff with a 20-12 record, 1.96 earned run average, and all while striking out 196 batters in 207.1 innings pitched.

Assuming we put bat to ball, get some good pitching performances in the circle, and play well on defense, we should be able to power our way through this very talented and experienced Aztecs squad. The last thing we want to do is come out flat and play bad defense, in turn giving away free passes and free runs that will only hamper our overall performance. Friday cannot get here soon enough as I really think this will be a great match-up to open up the Tempe Regional.

Finally, rounding out the four teams in the Tempe Regional are the WAC Champions, the San Jose State Spartans. The Spartans are headed by Head Coach Peter Turner, who it is worth mentioning is also the Head Coach of the USA Men’s National Fastpitch Team. San Jose State has played some very talented teams this year and have given some big time schools some very stiff competition. The Spartans of SJSU have played the likes of Hawaii, UCLA, California, Oregon, and Oregon State just to name a few. Playing this caliber of competition will surely have SJSU prepared for any team they may meet in the postseason, Arizona State included. Entering the Tempe Regional with an impressive 40-15 overall record, the Spartans are looking to get thing going with an upset as they take on the Sun Devils. The Spartans are led at the plate by Michelle Cox (.373, 1 HR, 22 RBI), Markesha Collins (.356, 9 HR, 36 RBI), and Jessie Hufstetler (.321, 3 HR, 27 RBI). Although they are an overall decent hitting squad, the SJSU Spartans have garnered much of their success in 2013 thanks to some absolutely brilliant pitching performances by Amanda Pridmore. Pridmore has tallied a 29-9 record, 1.51 ERA, and has also picked up a ton of strikeouts as she has fanned 250 batters in 249.2 innings. When San Jose State is the #4 seed in your Regional, you know the competition is stiff and that truly anyone could advance to the Super Regionals. With Pridmore in the circle and the Spartan offense clicking, it would not surprise me to see San Jose State succeed in the post season.

San Jose State’s pitching staff is led by Amanda Pridmore (pictured above). (Courtesy San Jose State Athletics)

While the future of Georgia Softball’s 2013 season hangs in the balance, only one thing can be for sure: we are in for a treat as we will get to see and play against some terrific competition in Tempe this weekend. Despite what does or does not happen in Tempe, words cannot describe how much fun I have had following and chronicling this Georgia squad so far this season. From the early season struggles, to slowly finding their identity over the ensuing months, to tallying a winning record against ranked opponents in the home stretch of the season, it has been an enthralling season to be a part of and watch. I think Georgia’s dividends have been paid as the team has put their complete trust in what Lu, Gerry, and Tara have been teaching them. This year’s group has truly believed in the process and committed to the G with an amazing effort and sense of dedication. It just goes to show how softball, like in many sports, is not always about how you start the season, but instead how you finish. When this team plays their “A” game, there is not a team in the nation that they cannot succeed against. I wish that my work and lesson schedule permitted me to make the almost-2000 mile cross-crountry trip to Tempe, but alas I will be watching from here in Athens. If we make it to Super Regionals, bet your butts that I will be there screaming, cheering, and chanting for the Bulldogs in Lexington or wherever it may be. Never give up Dawgs and represent Bulldog Nation with a complete effort in every inning of every contest. We believe! I believe!

As always, Go Dawgs!

#RoadToWCWS          #DominateTempe          #CommitToTheG


Bulldogs Dominate LSU, Fall Short to Gators in SEC Semifinals

Although the 2013 SEC Tournament did not end up going exactly how the 23rd-ranked Georgia Bulldogs would have liked, the girls from Athens showed a heck of a lot of fight en route to a tie for third place overall out of ten very talented programs. Chelsea Wilkinson pitched an absolute gem in the Quarterfinals against 9th-ranked LSU, blanking the Tigers in her complete-game effort. After knocking LSU out of the tournament via a 7-0 score, Georgia fell to the eventual champions and 3rd-ranked Florida Gators by a 9-5 final margin. Trailing 9-0 heading into the 5th inning of play, it looked as if the Bulldogs were ready to pack their bags and head home in their first mercy rule loss of the year, but the Bulldogs refused to roll over. Georgia mounted an aggressive comeback in the final three innings of the contest with Florida and managed to pull within four runs. But alas, the rally fell just short and the Bulldogs fell to the Gators for the third time in 2013.

Congratulations to Chelsea Wilkinson and Paige Wilson for garnering All SEC Tournament honors and congratulations to the rest of the team on some well-played ball while in Lexington. It brings me a lot of excitement to see that we were able to tack on five runs off of Hannah Rogers in the second half of the SEC Semifinals. We ended the game by playing aggressive softball at the dish and in the field, and this is what leads me to believe that we will carry tons of positive momentum into the NCAA Regional Round that begins on either Thursday or Friday of this week.

Chelsea Wilkinson earned SEC All-Tournament Honors to go along with her All-Freshman Honors from earlier in the week.

Chelsea Wilkinson earned SEC All-Tournament Honors to go along with her All-Freshman Honors from earlier in the week. (Courtesy The Red & Black)


In Thursday’s match-up with the Bayou Bengals, Georgia jumped on the board in the top of the third inning thanks to a Katie Browne solo home run off the first pitch she saw from Rachele Fico. The Bulldogs would continue to put runs on the scoreboard in the top of the 5th inning thanks to a two-run single through the left side off the bat of Kaylee Puailoa. With the score situated at 3-0, Tess Sito drew a lead-off walk, was sacrificed to second on a perfect bunt from Christine Olney, and eventually came around to score after Niaja Griffin singled and forced an LSU fielding error to make the score 4-0. Georgia continued to pad their lead in the final frame of play by plating three final runs. With the bases loaded, Tina Iosefa was hit by a pitch and another run scored afterwards on a a fielder’s choice off the bat of Tess Sito. Georgia scored their final run of the contest by executing a perfect double steal by Tess Sito and Kaylee “Moose” Puailoa.

Chelsea did not throw a good game, but instead threw an absolutely genius game against the LSU Tigers. In the complete game effort, Wilkinson scattered just five hits and allowed no runs to cross the plate. With the victory, Chelsea Wilkinson picked up her fourth win over a Top 25 program (Texas A&M, Florida, LSU twice…) in the past month! Go Chelsea!

In the Saturday Semifinal match-up against the 3rd-ranked Florida Gators, Geri Ann Glasco got the start in the circle and appeared to be in an early groove before getting tagged for four earned runs off of two Gator home runs. After striking out Kelsey Stewart and popping up Kirsti Merritt, Glasco followed by surrendering two, two-run blasts off the bats of Lauren Haeger and Taylor Schwartz. Morgan Montemayor replaced Glasco in the circle and would end up surrendering five runs, only two of which were earned, in the final 5.1 innings of work. After the Gators padded their lead on the back of another Schwartz home run and RBI hits from Stewart and Tofft, things were not looking too good for our Bulldogs. With the score standing at 9-0 entering the top of the 5th inning of play, it appeared that Georgia was in line to suffer their first mercy rule loss of the season. But alas, the Bulldogs showed the fight that they are well known for and managed to tag Hannah Rogers for five runs late in the contest.

With the bases loaded in the fifth inning, Niaja Griffin grounded out to the left side for an RBI and made the score 9-1 in favor of the Gators. Paige Wilson then followed with a hot-shot double down the right field line to plate a pair of Georgia runs to bring the score to a 9-3 margin. After a quiet sixth inning, Georgia mounted yet another rally in the top of the 7th and final frame of play. After back-to-back singles off the bats of Browne and LaZear got the inning started, Paige Wilson picked up her third and fourth RBIs of the game on a single through the right side to bring the score to a managebale 9-5 tally. The late Bulldog rally fell just short as the final two outs of the contest were recorded and the Gators moved on to face Missouri in the finals.

Paige Wilson finished the SEC Tournament with a .500 average and 4 RBIs en route to All-Tournament Honors.

Paige Wilson finished the SEC Tournament with a .500 average and 4 RBIs en route to All-Tournament Honors. (Courtesy, shot by Evan Stichler)

Florida defeated Missouri in the nightcap by a 10-4 final score, which made me feel much better about our performance. It felt good to know that we gave up less runs and also scored more runs against Florida than did the second place Missouri Tigers. With the win against Missouri, the 3rd-ranked Florida Gators won both the Regular Season SEC Title and the SEC Tournament Title. Congratulations to the Gators and a very stellar regular season and here’s hoping that we may get another shot at them in the post season! Stinkin’ Gators! 😉

Georgia will find out their post season fate on Sunday night at 10pm when the NCAA D1 Softball Selection Show will be aired live on ESPNU. Be sure not to miss it! This postseason is sure to be one of the better ones in the last 5-6 years because with the exception of Oklahoma, the field is wide open for anyone to take! I would like to think that with the right draw, our Georgia Bulldogs have a great chance of making it far and doing us fans even more proud than they already have!

As always, Go Dawgs!

#RoadToWCWS          #CommitToTheG          #BombSquadPuppies

Four Bulldogs Earn All-SEC Honors!

I am at work and just now saw the news of the four Bulldogs who racked up the SEC accolades! WOW! This is truly an exciting time to be a Georgia Softball fan as every girl that earned an award for the SEC is either a freshman or a sophomore! We are going to get several more seasons of seeing this group of young girls develop into some absolutely killer players!

I will add more to this posting when I have more time towards the end  of the day, but a huge congratulations is in order for Paige Wilson, Kaylee Puailoa, Geri Ann Glasco, and Chelsea Wilkinson! Some players go their entire careers without garnering one of these prestigious SEC awards! Go Red! Go Moose! Go G! Go Chelsea!

Below is the link from the official Georgia website on all of the good news!

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May 7, 2013

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Four Georgia softball players garnered Southeastern Conference honors, it was announced today. Highlighting the accolades was Geri Ann Glasco, who was named the Co-SEC Freshman of the Year. It is the first time in program history that a Georgia player has received Freshman of the Year honors.

Paige Wilson and Kaylee Puailoa were each named to the All-SEC First Team, while Glasco, Puailoa and Chelsea Wilkinson earned a spot on the All-Freshman team.

Glasco earned Co-Freshman of the Year, as well as a spot on the All-Freshman team, was named the SEC Freshman of the Week three times this season and became the first player in Georgia history to earn National Player of the Week Honors twice in the same season. Against league foes, Glasco led the SEC in home runs with 11 and led all SEC freshmen with 22 RBI. She also set a Georgia record for most home runs by a freshman with 19, which also ties for second all-time among SEC freshmen. In SEC games, she slugged .776, which was second among all players and first among all freshmen. Glasco also holds the Georgia freshman RBI record with 59. The Watkinsville, Ga., native leads the team in home runs, RBI and slugging percentage. Against South Carolina this year, she tied an SEC record and set a Georgia record with three home runs in a single game. Her defensive play has been just as stellar, committing just two errors in 233 chances. Glasco also owns a 17-7 record in the circle and leads the team with 123 strikeouts.

Wilson, who earned all-freshman honors last season, leads the team with a .400 average in SEC play, helping her to First Team All-SEC honors. An everyday starter for the Bulldogs, Wilson has recorded 19 RBI in SEC play and ranks third in the SEC with a .747 slugging percentage. A native of Chicago, Ill., Wilson has belted 15 home runs for the Bulldogs this season. In the final regular-season series for Georgia, Wilson hit three home runs, including two in a single game against No. 8/7 LSU, marking the first time in her career that she has hit two home runs in a single game.  For her efforts that weekend, she became the first Georgia player since 2011 to earn SEC Player of the Week honors. Wilson’s .400 average in SEC play ranks fourth among all conference players. Against SEC teams, Wilson ranks among the SEC leaders in on base percentage (.458), runs scored (19), hits (30), RBI (19), total bases (56) and at bats (75). Wilson has also hit two grand slams this season, both coming at Radford in non-conference play.

Puailoa earned dual recognition this season, earning a place on both the All-SEC First Team and All-Freshman Team and is the only freshman to be named to the All-SEC First Team. Against SEC competition, she is ranked in the near the top in batting average (.368), slugging percentage (.721), on base percentage (.456), hits (25), home runs (7), total bases (49) and hit by pitches (7). Puailoa picked up SEC Freshman of the Week honors once this season and also broke the UGA freshman home run record with 15 round-trippers, tied for second on the team. Puailoa is also tied for second on the team in doubles with 11 and is slugging .763 on the season. On two occasions, once against an SEC team, she has hit two home runs in game.

Wilkinson, a member of the SEC All-Freshman Team, helped the Bulldogs to three wins over ranked opponents in the final stretch of the regular season. The Taylorsville, N.C., native is 5-2 in league play and has an ERA of 3.79. In her final three Friday night starts for Georgia, each of which came against a Top-15 opponent, Wilkinson is 3-0 with a 2.90 ERA and 28 strikeouts. She struck out 12 batters against then-No. 13 Texas A&M before following with a 14-strikeout performance against No. 2 Florida. In those two starts, she threw two complete games and allowed just three runs and struck out 26. Wilkinson leads the Georgia pitching staff with 55 strikeouts against SEC competition and is the only Georgia pitcher to have two double-digit strikeout performances this season and the only Bulldogs with double-digit strikeouts against an SEC team. For the season, Wilkinson has thrown four complete-games, one no hitter and has 103 strikeouts on the year. Opponents are hitting just .215 against her this season.

2013 SEC Softball Awards
Player of the Year
Lauren Gibson, Tennessee

Pitcher of the Year
Chelsea Thomas, Missouri

Coach of the Year
Tim Walton, Florida

Freshman of the Year
Geri Ann Glasco, Georgia
Bianka Bell, LSU

Scholar-Athlete of the Year
Jenna Marston, Missouri

First Team All-SEC
P – Chelsea Thomas, Missouri
P – Hannah Rogers, Florida
IF – Lauren Gibson, Tennessee
IF – Raven Chavanne, Tennessee
IF – Madison Shipman, Tennessee
IF – Paige Wilson, Georgia
OF – Kayla Braud, Alabama
OF – Kat Dotson, Tennessee
OF – Kaylee Puailoa, Georgia
OF – A.J. Andrews, LSU
C – Jenna Marston, Missouri
DP/U – Lauren Haeger, Florida

Second Team All-SEC
P – Rachele Fico, LSU
P – Kimmy Beasley, Arkansas
IF – Samie Garcia, South Carolina
IF – Kelsey Stewart, Florida
IF – Bianka Bell, LSU
IF – Kaila Hunt, Alabama
OF – Haylie McCleney, Alabama
OF – Kelsey Horton, Florida
OF – Branndi Melero, Auburn
OF – Jacee Blades, LSU
C – Griffin Joiner, Kentucky
DP/U – Mel Dumezich, Texas A&M

Freshman All-SEC
P – Kelsey Nunley, Kentucky
P – Chelsea Wilkinson, Georgia
IF – Kelsey Stewart, Florida
IF – Bianka Bell, LSU
IF – Geri Ann Glasco, Georgia
IF – Emily Carosone, Auburn
OF – Haylie McCleney, Alabama
OF – Kaylee Puailoa, Georgia
OF – Kristi Merritt, Florida
OF – Andrea Hawkins, Alabama; Tiffany Howard, Auburn
C – Kellsi Kloss, LSU
DP/U – Cali Lanphear, Texas A&M

SEC All-Defensive
P – Chelsea Thomas, Missouri
C – Griffin Joiner, Kentucky
1B – Morgan Estell, Auburn
2B – Lauren Gibson, Tennessee
SS – Madison Shipman, Tennessee
3B – Raven Chavanne, Tennessee
LF – Kayla Braud, Alabama
CF – Haylie McCleney, Alabama
RF – Kat Dotson, Tennessee

Paige Wilson Garners SEC Player of the Week

It brings me great satisfaction to announce that Paige Wilson has been awarded the coveted SEC Player of the Week award for her outstanding performance against 7th-ranked LSU this past weekend. Paige absolutely dominated LSU pitching in both games played, hitting a home run off of each LSU pitcher (Fico, Czechner, and Patterson) before it was all said and done. After having a tough weekend against 2nd-ranked Florida, it was very neat to see Paige make the necessary adjustments coming into the LSU series. None of her three home runs against LSU were baby bombs either; in fact, I do not think she hit one less than 240 feet out of all three long balls she hit!

Georgia is getting hot at the right time and Paige has been an integral part of the team’s success. Not only has her bat been hot, but she has been making some absolute web-gem plays as of late against both Florida and LSU. Congratulations, Paige! You earned it! GO DAWGS!


(Story Courtesy

“Sophomore Paige Wilson  has been named the Southeastern Conference Softball Player of the Week for April 29-May 5, it was announced today. It is the first weekly honor for Wilson this season and the first time that a Georgia player has garnered Player of the Week Honors since Megan Wiggins and Brianna Hesson each did so in 2011. The Bulldogs have had three players earned five SEC Freshman of the Week honors this season. It is the fifth weekly honor for Wilson in her career, as she was named the SEC Freshman of the Week four times in 2012.

Wilson played a leading role in Georgia’s two-game sweep of No. 8/7 LSU last weekend. The Chicago, Ill., native batted .750 over the two games, going 6-for-8 at the plate. Highlighting her at bats was a trio of home runs that helped the Bulldogs to its fifth and sixth wins over a ranked opponent in the last eight SEC games.

Her three home runs and a double resulted in six RBI for Wilson. In Georgia’s 10-7 win over the Tigers, she hit two home runs, marking the first time in her career that she has hit two homers in a single game.

Wilson drove in four runs in Georgia’s come-from-behind win over LSU on Sunday, including three on a three-run bomb. For the weekend, Wilson slugged 2.000 and had an OPS of 2.750.

Wilson and the Bulldogs will travel as the No. 5 seed to the SEC Softball Tournament this week. Georgia will take on LSU at 1:30 p.m., on Thursday, May 9 in Lexington, Kentucky.”

Paige Wilson slides into second base on Sunday against LSU at Jack Turner Stadium.

Paige Wilson slides into second base on Sunday against LSU at Jack Turner Stadium. (Courtesy, shot by Evan Stichler)

Maya Branch Named to 2013 SEC Community Service Team

As announced by the Southeastern Conference on Monday morning, Senior outfielder Maya Branch has been named to the 2013 SEC Community Service Team for her hard work and vounteering in the Athens-Clarke County community over the past several years. Maya is a great player with a lot of positive energy and leadership skills! Maya’s presence on the field will truly be missed next year! In the end, softball is just a game, and Maya has taken her hard work and committment off the field to better the quality of her community and fellow Bulldogs. Congratulations to Maya on a much-deserved award!

Maya Branch watches intently as her team battles LSU in Athens.

Maya Branch watches intently as her team battles LSU in Athens. (Courtesy, shot by Evan Stichler)

I have been watching Maya play since she first arrived in Athens as a freshman. It seems like yesterday that she belted a home run in her rookie season, and alas, it is now close to time for her and the two other seniors to part ways with Athens. I had the opportunity to ask Maya what her favorite part of being a Georgia Bulldog has been over the past four years and she gave me a prompt response:

“Some of the greatest moments to me were playing with a competitive group of girls who helped to define what friendship really meant in every aspect of the word,” says the Senior outfielder from Lithonia.

Maya told me that while she enjoyed her entire carrer as a Bulldog, that the big time games and rivalry games were tons of fun to experience!

“It was great to play big games at a standing-room only stadium, all while not being nervous due to being surrounded by so much love and support. It helped knowing that I was never alone in any situation because we [the team] are not only teammates, but family as well.”

Congratulations to Maya Branch on a succesful career in the classroom, on the field, and also in the community! It has been a pleasure watching this young lady and the other two Georgia Seniors, Tess Sito and Christine Olney, play in the Red & Black for the past few years. Go Dawgs!

(Story portion below from

Branch served as a mentor for Timothy Road Elementary School for the past two years, volunteering every week in the fall and at least twice a month during the spring. She spent every Saturday last fall volunteering at the East Friendship Baptist Church soup kitchen feeding the homeless and has participated in S.O.A.R (Special Olympics Annual Run at Hilsman Middle School for the past three years. Branch worked with the Boys and Girls Club of Athens, served as an Usher at Morton’s Theatre and participated in Reading Day at Gaines Elementary School. She volunteered at the Athens Animal Shelter, helped in the beatification of the Athens-area with the Barber Street Clean Up Project and spent time working with Kits for Kids in Haiti. Branch worked with outreach projects and learning services at different schools and academies with the Entomology department at Georgia from 2010-2013.

Georgia Wins Series, Throttles 7th-Ranked LSU 10-5

On a day where it seemed that rain was going to ruin any chance of Georgia playing their Strike Out Cancer game against No. 7 LSU, the weather cleared up perfectly and Georgia rallied to defeat the Tigers by a 10-5 final score. Morgan Montemayor (12-6) picked up the win in the circle after relieving Geri Ann Glasco, while LSU’s Ashley Czechner (10-1) suffered her first loss of the year. Despite trailing 5-2 in the fifth inning, Georgia mounted a huge comeback to erase the deficit and pull ahead by a comfortable margin.

Words cannot express how proud I am for what this team has been able to accomplish over the past 3 weeks. After playing back-to-back-to-back series against Texas A&M, Florida, and LSU, the girls are now 6-2 against Top 15 competition and 3-2 over Top 10 foes in the  past three weeks! It is insane to think about some of the quality wins that our Dawgs are piling up, especially when you consider the youth and inexperience that many thought would be the death of us this season. It seems that the offense has caught fire and that pitching is confident in the circle with the way our bats have been. Although the SEC season was tough at times and proved to be quite stressful on some of us fans, our Bulldogs have rounded the corner and are looking strong heading into the SEC Tournament in Lexington.

Geri Ann Glasco started Sunday's game in the circle against 7th-ranked LSU

Geri Ann Glasco started Sunday’s game in the circle against 7th-ranked LSU. (Courtesy, shot by Evan Stichler)

In Lexington, Georgia will be the #5 seed and will face off against none other than the #4 seeded LSU Tigers. It looks as if we will end up getting three games in, after all! In some ways, I am confident that we can handle the Tigers again, although it is hard to beat any team in the SEC three times in a season. When you throw in Fico and Bianka Bell, the Bayou Bengals are a tough squad! Here’s hoping for a stellar SEC Tournament and an even better post season!

In today’s game, Georgia jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second with two outs. With Anna Swafford and Niaja Griffin on first and third base, respectively, they executed a perfect double steal to give Georgia the 1-0 lead. Paige Wilson promptly followed by tattooing a rise ball from Ashley Czechner over the head of Simone Heyward in right field to make the score 2-0. The LSU bats would come alive to tie the game in the fourth inning 2-2 and eventually pull ahead 5-2 in the fifth inning after a bases loaded HBP and a two-run double.

LSU led the Georgia Bulldogs by a 5-2 tally heading into the bottom of the fifth inning, but it would now be Georgia’s turn to put on a hitting clinic off of Czechner. Anna Swafford led off the fifth inning with a monster home run over the trees and scoreboard in left field. When I watched the replay of her bomb on WatchEspn, I got a kick out of how Michelle commented on how hard it was hit! Georgia would settle for only one run in the fifth, but would go on to score seven runs in the bottom of the sixth. Katie Browne started the Georgia scoring off with a clutch two-run double to the gap in left center to score LaZear and Olney. With the game tied, Anna Swafford hit a hot shot to Tammy Wray at third and reached via the error, in turn scoring Tiesha Reed from third base. Paige Wilson followed with yet another moonshot home run, her 15th of the season, to dead center field. It got even sweeter as Geri Ann Glasco followed by taking the first pitch she saw from Czechner to dead center for back-t0-back long balls for the Bulldogs. Georgia would carry a convincing 10-5 lead into the bottom of the final frame of the game.

Senior Christine Olney connects for a base hit to left field on Sunday against LSU.

Senior Christine Olney connects for a base hit to left field on Sunday against LSU. (Courtesy, shot by Evan Stichler)

In the bottom of the 7th inning, the seventh ranked team in the country threatened to cut into Georgia’s lead, but Morgan Montemayor had other plans. With the bases loaded and two outs, MoMo induced a weak groundout back to the circle that she fielded for the final out of the contest. Morgan is showing every day that she is such a huge threat as a closer and that she is going to be one of the key pieces to getting deep into the post season! Go MoMo! Keep up the awesome work!

Although we may hear a chorus of people try to convince us that we beat LSU’s number two pitcher, I would like to point out that our 24th-ranked Georgia Bulldogs handed Czechner her first loss of the year. I was very impressed with Czechner in the beginning, but she slowly came unraveled as the batters started making better contact. I hope for Beth Torina and Czechner’s sake that she is able to improve because I do not know who else LSU has to pitch next year! Overall, I think LSU is a very good squad and we are not out of the water with them just yet. In fact, we play them in less than a week in the Quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament in Lexington on ESPNU. The game will be broadcast LIVE on ESPNU and WatchEspn at approximately 1:30 PM Eastern Time on Thursday.

Once again, we are getting the job done with some timely defense and some even better hitting. We are going to need to continue the hot streak at the plate in order to get wins over the big teams, but what will be even more key is constantly mixing up the pitching versatility/rotation. Geri Ann has shown that she can be very effective against teams for anywhere from 2-4 innings. After that, all the opposing hitters do are get down their timing because she lacks that killer off-speed pitch that many successful SEC pitchers have. Once she adds in the off-speed to go in with the change/screw/rise/drop she will be excellent. Chelsea had limited innings in this series and I am glad we did not have to show her off too much because I would guess that she gets the start against them on Thursday in the SEC Tournament. You cannot say enough about how good Wilkinson has been the past few Fridays against the likes of A&M and Florida, and I truly think she will continue this hot streak against some big teams here down the home stretch.

One thing is for sure, Georgia is on a surge and I have the feeling that they aren’t gonna be looking back anytime soon. It will be a tough task to beat LSU for a third consecutive time, and this time we will have to do it at a neutral site. At neutral sites in 2013, our Georgia Bulldogs are 6-4 overall. I really think that we can get an awesome performance from both our pitchers and offense against Fico and LSU in Lexington!

Excited to hear that the program raised almost $6,000 for breast cancer awareness, and it was so cool to see the breast cancer survivor throw out the first pitch. The crowd was awesome considering the way the weather was all morning, but who would have known that the sun would have came out? With the way the team played today, maybe the girls should wear the pink jerseys until we lose a game. Maybe they’re good luck! Haha! 😀

As always, Go Dawgs!

PS: Here’s hoping Paige Wilson gets POW! 5-7 with 3 HR and 6 RBI. Nice!

Niaja Griffin went 2-3 on Sunday, collected 2 slap hits off of Ashley Czechner of LSU

Niaja Griffin went 2-3 on Sunday, collecting 2 slap hits off of Ashley Czechner of LSU. (Courtesy, shot by Evan Stichler)

Wilson, No. 24 Georgia Slug Past No. 7 LSU in Series Opener

On an evening that began with storms moving through the area, Mother Nature took a back seat and let Georgia supply all the necessary thunder as the Bulldogs defeated 7th-ranked LSU by a final score of 10-7. For the Bulldogs, Chelsea Wilkinson picked up the win in the circle and Morgan Montemayor pitched lights out to earn the save. Georgia is now 5-2 against Top 15 competition in the past few weeks and will look to claim the series over LSU on Saturday as long as the weather cooperates.

Paige Wilson connects for a solo home run off of LSU's Rachele Fico.

Paige Wilson connects for a solo home run off of LSU’s Rachele Fico. (Courtesy, shot by Evan Stichler)

Despite trailing heading into the bottom of the opening frame after a Bianka Bell two-run home run that barely fell over the left field wall, Georgia responded with a run in the bottom of the inning. After Anna Swafford popped out for the first out of the contest, Paige Wilson pressed play on a bomb that sailed over the trees in dead center field. Paige absolutely CRUSHED that ball and I think it is yet to come down! With the score situated at 2-1 in the bottom of the third inning, Georgia exploded for eight runs to pull ahead by a 9-2 margin. The scoring began after Tina Iosefa was beamed with a pitch on the helmet with the bases loaded. With the game now tied at 2-2, Kaylee “Moose” Puailoa promptly followed with a hard single up the middle to put the Dawgs ahead 3-2. Tess Sito flew out for the first out of the inning and Christine Olney followed with a bases-clearing double to the gap in right center field. What a great way for Olney to get her Senior Weekend going! Despite taking a comfortable lead at 6-2, Georgia would continue the scoring outbreak when Niaja Griffin hit a laser-beam triple to left field that alluded the LSU left fielder to score two more runs. After an Anna Swafford ground ball brought the score to 9-2, LSU finally escaped the inning, but not before the damage had been done.

Similarly to the Bulldogs, the Bayou Bengals refused to lay down and surrender such an important game to our 24th-ranked squad. The Tigers tacked on a run in the top of the 4th inning after Jacee Blades slapped an RBI infield single to score Lauren Houston from third base. Georgia pitching dealt the Tigers a 1-2-3 inning in the fifth frame, but LSU started a big rally in the sixth inning. Believe it or not, but LSU’s speedy slapper, A.J. Andrews, jacked a three-run shot over the wall to score three runs and bring the score to a 9-6 margin. The Tigers managed to score another run on a controversial call off the bat of Sandra Simmons, but Georgia followed with a ground out to Tess Sito to end the LSU rally. Sandra Simmons launched a ball off of Morgan Montemayor that bounced off the top of the wall and fell back into play. The umpires never signaled home run and called it a “live ball,” despite numerous members of the LSU coaching staff racing onto the field and arguing the call. It was so funny to see former UGA catcher Krystin Sandberg wearing purple and arguing against the Bulldogs on what she and other LSU fans believed to have been a home run.

In the bottom of the 6th inning with the score situated at 9-7, Paige Wilson hit her second monster home run of the day, this time an absolute moonshot over the scoreboard. Paige appeared to be much more patient at the plate in yesterday’s game and she waited on the LSU pitchers to come right at her before lashing out. It is awesome that Wilson was able to sandwich a drag bunt single to Tammy Wray at third base in between her two bombs! Morgan Montemayor ended the game by retiring the LSU batters in order in the top of the 7th and final inning. Georgia defeated LSU by a final score of 10-7.

Although we ended up surrendering two home runs and seven runs (six earned), I think our pitching did well against a very tough 7th-ranked LSU team. Chelsea Wilkinson struggled a little bit against the speedy lefty batters from LSU, and I think this is due in part to the fact that slappers only have to get to contact rather than putting a “great” swing on a ball. Chelsea has a lot of movement and spin on the ball, but all LSU had to do was make contact when their slappers were at the plate. Morgan Montemayor entered in relief for Wilkinson and pitched an incredible game, surrendering just a lone run. MoMo’s off-speed was killer and she looked to be in beast mode in the circle! Go MoMo! Go Chelsea!

Tess Sito covers the second base bag in Friday's contest against LSU.

Tess Sito covers the second base bag in Friday’s contest against LSU. (Courtesy, shot by Evan Stichler)

I cannot say enough about the way our bats performed against one of the top pitchers in the country in the form of Rachele Fico. I am not sure on this, but I would be willing to say that we are the only team in the country to tally eight earned runs off of Fico in one contest. Building upon that statement, I am 100% confident that we are the only team this season and perhaps ever to score eight earned runs off of Fico in a single inning! Although the Tigers have a good number two behind Fico in the form of Czechner, I would bet a lot of money that the Bulldogs will go up against Fico again in Game 2.

How about the Bulldog defense as of late? Tess Sito made a diving grab on the infield early in the game and helped Georgia escape a dangerous LSU rally by gloving a hot shot on the infield in the sixth inning. Niaja Griffin once again made a web gem catch in center field, this time off the bat of Sandra Simmons as she extended her arm over her shoulder to make the catch before crashing into the wall. After this brilliant catch, the crowd roared and stood to their feet while Georgia’s players mobbed Griffin in the outfield to congratulate her on the incredible snag!

Game 2 was originally set to start at 1pm but has already been delayed twice due to inclement weather. Here’s hoping that the Dawgs and the Tigers get a chance to battle it out for the series in Games 2 & 3. Keep it up, ladies! We believe!

As always, Go Dawgs!

#BeatLSU           #CommitToTheG         #RoadToWCWS         #HereKittyKitty

Niaja Giriffin is congratulated by teammates in Friday's contest after making a web gem catch against the wall in center field.

Niaja Giriffin is congratulated by her teammates in Friday’s contest after making a web gem catch against the wall in center field. (Courtesy, shot by Evan Stichler)