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)

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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 GeorgiaDogs.com, 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

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 at Arkansas Preview:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As always, Go Dawgs!

#CommitToTheG          #BeatArkansas          #WhoSmellsBacon          #BombSquadPuppies

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

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

 

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

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

Kaylee Puailoa, Bulldogs Defeat Georgia Southern, 6-3

(VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS HERE)

It’s the year of the Moose, ladies and gentlemen!

“M-O-O-O-O-O-O-S-E!”

On a chilly Wednesday night in Jack Turner Stadium, Kaylee Puailoa (3-3, 2 HR, 4 RBI) and the Georgia Bulldogs defeated the Georgia Southern Eagles in a 6-3 contest that featured three total home runs and some very good pitching. Geri Ann Glasco got the start in the circle for the Bulldogs and had a great top of the first. In the bottom of the opening frame, Anna Swafford led off with a single through the left side and would eventually be tripled in on a ball to the wall from Tina Iosefa. Kaylee Puailoa got her first of three hits on the night, a scorched line drive up the middle promptly after the Iosefa triple. Kaylee’s hit put the score at 2-0 in favor of the Bulldogs. In the bottom of the fourth inning, Moose once again delivered for the Dawgs with an absolutely MAMMOTH home run to right center field. We have seen some big bombs this year so far, but that one by Kaylee tonight and the one HUGE one from Geri Ann last week against Ole Miss are the furthest two I have seen hit out since Goler, Wiggins, and Razey dropped bombs a couple of years back! Georgia would score again on a wild pitch from Allie Miles to make it 4-0–Miles had been brought in to relieve Purvis in the 4th inning.

In what was turning out to already be a spotlight night for Kaylee, she kept it going in the fifth inning with another long ball, this time a 2-run dinger to right field. All three of the hits this evening were absolutely smoked off the bat! After scoring their sixth run of the game on the home run from Moose, Georgia’s scoring threat diminished and it was the Eagles’ turns to show out! After a single and an error with two outs put runners on 1st and 2nd base, Tabby Douberley crushed a pitch from Chelsea Wilkinson deep out of the park in center field, in turn scoring three runs for the Eagles. The game would end with the score situated at 6-3 and Morgan Montemayor would have a perfect, 3 K top of the 7th inning to put the game away effortlessly. Go MoMo!!

Kaylee Puailoa (3-3, 2HR, 4 RBI) collecting one of her three hits against Georgia Southern on Wednesday.

Kaylee Puailoa (3-3, 2HR, 4 RBI) collecting one of her three hits against Georgia Southern on Wednesday. (Courtesy UGA’s Brother Photography)

With the win, Georgia (26-7, 6-0 SEC) has now won 16 games in a row dating back to a mercy rule victory over Radford on March 3rd. Geri Ann Glasco improved to 16-1 in the circle, going four innings, giving up one hit, no walks, no runs, and all while fanning 7 Georgia Southern batters. Chelsea Wilkinson pitched two innings, struck out three batters, and gave up three earned runs. Chelsea was really spinning the ball well tonight, and the home run was the only truly hard hit ball of the night by GA Southern. The Eagles look good and I would expect them to win the Southern Conference this year. The third pitcher Georgia Southern brought in, Brooke Red, had an absolutely KILLER drop ball and would have success in the SEC if she added one or two more good breaking pitches. It seemed that the drop ball was her only real weapon–breaking a lot and coming in at around 65mph–but was the only real pitch she threw.

The girls are continuing the big offense and Purvis was a very good test tonight of where we are at this point in the season. I really hope that the weather holds up again this weekend in Fayetteville so the girls can get all three games of the series in! With her three hits tonight, Kaylee Puailoa raised her average to a .400 clip. This now puts four Georgia Bulldogs (Olney, Glasco, Puailoa, Wilson) all batting .400 or above. Anna Swafford cracked into the .400s tonight but would end the night a single away from .400 at .394. Pretty dang impressive, ladies!!!

Good luck in Arkansas this weekend, Dawgs!

As always, Go Dawgs!

#SicEm          #BombSquadPuppies          #BeatArkansas

Christine Olney (2-3) collected two hits against Georgia Southern to keep her hot streak alive!

Christine Olney (2-3) collected two hits against Georgia Southern to keep her hot streak alive! (Courtesy GeorgiaDogs.com, shot by Evan Stichler)