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

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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(STORY BELOW COURTESY GEORGIADOGS.COM)

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

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 GeorgiaDogs.com, 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 GeorgiaDogs.com, 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 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 Hosts USC-Upstate for Midweek Showdown

On Wednesday, the Georgia Bulldogs will play host to the team with the best record in all of the Carolinas. You may be thinking about North Carolina, NC State, South Carolina, or an array of other teams, but guess again! The USC-Upstate Spartans enter Athens with an impressive 35-5 record and sit exactly one spot above our Bulldogs in the RPI at 38th in the country. This fact alone (38 RPI vs 39 RPI) is what, perhaps, makes this one of the more interesting non-conference contests this year. Not only do the Spartans have a great record, but they have the third best team batting average in the nation (.349) and have the second best fielding percentage in the nation (.982). Personally, I think this is going to be a great midweek contest and should feature some hot offense and some great pitching. It is noteworthy that Upstate was ranked in last week’s NFCA Poll, claiming the #24 ranking before being defeated twice over the weekend by the Lipscomb Bison in Atlantic Sun conference play.

Niaja Griffin looks to build on her past success against the Spartans in tomorrow's contest in Athens.

Niaja Griffin looks to build on her past success against the Spartans in tomorrow’s contest in Athens. (Courtesy GeorgiaDogs.com, shot by Evan Stichler)

Georgia leads the all-time series between the two schools with a 2-0 record. Georgia defeated the Spartans last year by a 7-3 final score and also defeated Upstate in 2011 by a 9-1 score. It is also worth mentioning that these two programs played some very competitive games back during Fall Ball that were extremely fun to watch. Georgia claimed both victories in Fall Ball and Niaja Griffin hit one of the longest home runs I have seen in quite sometime off of Jamie Ujvari. I guess the Spartans will be delighted to see Niaja slapping from the left side this time around rather than slugging away from the right. But, who knows? I would not be surprised to see Niaja get an attempt from the right side in tomorrow’s outing based on her success hitting for power against the Spartans in the Fall.

In the circle, the Spartans have a talented duo of Ace hurlers in the form of Jamie Ujvari and Hannah Alexander. Both Ujvari and Alexander are very good rise ball pitchers with great movement and good speed also. Jamie Ujvari is sporting an impressive 16-1 record to go along with a 1.58 ERA and 115 strikeouts in 101.2 innings pitched. With similar numbers, experienced Upstate pitcher Hannah Alexander has compiled a 15-2 record, a 1.71 ERA, and has fanned 106 batters in 106.2 innings thrown. Without a doubt, this is the most dynamic and feared pitching duo in the entire A-SUN conference, and perhaps one of the best staffs on the East Coast. This team has been on the rise for a few years now, and I think their pitching has been the main reason for this rise in performance. Do not get me wrong, this team is now showing off how good they can whack the ball, but in the past it has been their dominating rise ball pitchers that have carried the program.

USC-Upstate freshman co-#1, Jamie Ujvari, pitches in a game in 2013. (Courtesy USC Upstate Athletics)

As mentioned above, the Upstate Spartans are third in the country for team batting average with an eye-popping .349 clip. Not only does this team hit for average, but they also strike with the home run ball more often than not. With respect to average, the Spartans are led at the plate by Maddison Kieffer. Kieffer is batting a whopping .430 tally with 5 home runs and 33 runs batted in. It is extremely hard to pinpoint which players on this team are the offensive juggernauts, simply because they all have incredible averages and power numbers! The team’s leader in RBIs, Shellie Robinson, is a name a lot of us softball fans have heard for a while now. The star offensive performer, Robinson, is batting a .345 average with 10 home runs and 41 runs driven in on the season. If our pitching is not aggressive and confident in the circle tomorrow, I would not be surprised to see us give up a few hard hits to this very deep offensive line-up. But, let’s hope that our pitching stays hot and can limit the damage and runs!

Upstate’s Shellie Robinson connects for a hit in a 2013 game. (Courtesy USC Upstate Athletics)

Chelsea Wilkinson showed just how dominant she can be in the circle when she tossed a 3-hit shutout with 6 strikeouts against South Carolina this past weekend in Columbia. I really hope that the coaches turn to her to start this contest in the circle tomorrow, and it would not shock me to see her get in a few hacks at the plate also. If everything goes in favor of the Dawgs, I am sure that they would like to use multiple pitchers in the circle, assuming the contest lasts a full seven innings. One would have to think that Morgan Montemayor would be brilliant in relief against a team that I’m sure never gets to see 70mph pitching, or at least not very often at all.

The week has gotten off to a great start thus far with Geri raking in the SEC Freshman of the Week award, as well as the USA National Softball Player of the Week. I do not want to put any pressure on Geri Ann, but boy would I love to see her hit a bomb or two tomorrow against the Spartans. With the offense running on all cylinders, we have the means to overwhelm this USC-Upstate team from the early goings of the contest!

As always, Go Dawgs!

#BeatUpstate          #CommitToTheG          #SicEm

Georgia Wins Series, Blanks South Carolina 2-0

In the Sunday rubber match between the Georgia Bulldogs and the South Carolina Gamecocks, Georgia prevailed by a final score of 2-0. Chelsea Wilkinson picked up the victory for Georgia on the back of a dominant 3-hit shutout. This was Chelsea Wilkinson’s first complete-game effort in the Southeastern Conference. No doubt, this is a day that will stay with Chelsea for many years to come. I could have sworn it was Erin Arevalo out there throwing with the way Chelsea was nailing the horizontal spin pitches on the corners of the plate. If you think about it, those two are a lot more similar than one might would originally presume. Erin Arevalo arrived on campus her freshman year and showed right away that she could move the ball well and mix up speeds, but she would not see much time until being thrown into the mix in the 2009 WCWS where she would shut down the eventual champions, the Washington Huskies. Chelsea is showing how masterful she can be in the circle, and I am so glad that she is stepping up her game at the right time. Heck, she even hit a line-drive double to the grass today in only her third at bat of the season. Go Chelsea!

Chelsea Wilkinson pitched the 3-hit shutout against South Carolina on Sunday to earn her first complete-game win in SEC play. (Courtesy The Red & Black)

South Carolina started their offense early in the final game of the series, putting runners in scoring position in both the first and second frame of the contest. Despite giving up a trio of hits through two innings, Chelsea Wilkinson managed to get out of both the first and second innings thanks to some great defense and timely strikeouts. Georgia got on the board with their lone two runs of the game in the fourth inning when Paige Wilson reached base on an error, and Geri Ann Glasco promptly followed with her fourth 2-run home run of the weekend, her SEC-leading 17th bomb on the season. If this young lady does not get Freshman of the Week honors this week, then that means someone must have really had a flat-out incredible week! Come to find out, a 2-0 lead would be all rookie hurler Chelsea Wilkinson would need. She finished the game by retiring the final 14 batters of the contest, including striking out the first two batters of the final inning before inducing a game-inning foul pop-up to Paige Wilson at third base. Wilkinson went the distance, striking out six South Carolina batters and gave up only three hits. If this is a sign of days to come, then sign me up! I really cannot say how vastly impressed I was with her performance today, especially after the way this team pounded Jackie Traina earlier in the year in their three game series with the Crimson Tide.

So, despite the weekend getting started with a sloppy loss to the Gamecocks, I truly think there are a lot of extremely positive things to take away from this series victory. It all starts with the way we looked in the circle, which if you ask me, we looked pretty good overall. Morgan was able to make it to the final inning of the game without surrendering a single earned run, and Chelsea was able to come in to slam the door in relief. Even in the first game of the weekend, I thought Geri had some bright spots. We all know that Geri will rebound and is going to continue to get better as the season progresses. It astounds me to think about how good this kid is going to be over the next 3-4 years. Wow! She definitely has to work harder at pitching than hitting, but I think that is what will eventually prime her to be one of the best out there. It is rare enough already to find a kid who can pitch in the SEC, much less a kid who can pitch in the SEC as a rookie and also lead the conference in home runs and RBI. This kid can flat-out RAKE! The last time I checked, Geri Ann is 3rd in the country in long balls, and trails only Lauren Chamberlain (21 HR, Oklahoma) and Megan Baltzell (18 HR, Longwood).

Although Chelsea gave us a great outing in the rubber match, and while Morgan and Geri had some great innings, it goes without saying that our pitching is going to have to get 1-2% better each game from here on out for us to be a force to reckoned with come May and hopefully June! I have complete faith that our staff is going to come on strong here in the final month of the SEC season, and if we can keep the base hits coming before the long ball, we will have a major chance at beating anyone out there!

Besides noticing some very positive things from our pitching in Columbia, I think the changes on defense are going to pay the biggest dividends come season’s end. The coaching staff has moved Paige Wilson to third base from short-stop, moved Tess Sito from second base to short-stop, and put Cricket Blanco on second. With this shift came the requirement of putting Anna Swafford in left field. I am beyond comfortable with this defensive realignment after the way the four girls played some STUD defense today against South Carolina. Paige has some of the quickest hands on the team, and by far has the strongest arm of all the Dawgs, so that is why I think the hot corner is where she will thrive. Sometimes, it came down to simply getting to the ball while at shortstop, and this is where Tess Sito is going to have a lot of success at the middle infield station. Tess really hustled to make some good plays, throwing across her body and also turning some key double plays to help get us out of trouble. While she only had a few attempts at second base, Cricket looked like a veteran out there yesterday and today. It wouldn’t be acceptable unless I also mention the speedy defense played by Swafford in left field these past two outings. I think defense was killing not only our opportunities to limit opposing runs, but also the morale of the girls. With a fresh configuration that appears to be working on defense, perhaps the girls are finally settling in to their niche. Keep up the groovy defense, ladies! 😀

Paige Wilson, recently shifted over to third base, played the hot corner with ease against the Gamecocks on Saturday and Sunday.

Paige Wilson, recently shifted over to third base, played the hot corner with ease against the Gamecocks on Saturday and Sunday. (Courtesy The Red & Black)

If you ask me what I perceived to be the most enjoyable moment of the weekend, I think it would be a toss-up between being informed of the way the second game ended and seeing Chelsea hit a double to the outfield. How about a quick re-cap on how those events went down:

1. Game One’s Ending: When I saw the girls running off of the field with grins on their faces in the second game of the series, I was taken aback because I initially had no idea what was going on. The announcers for South Carolina said that the runner was called out for being off the base, but they gave no clarification. When I read the recap on the South Carolina website, it said that the runner was called out on the “Look Back” rule, meaning that the runner was off the base even after the pitcher has looked at the runner to ensure that she is on the bag. Indeed, this would be the correct diagnosis of the situation that happened, although after speaking to one of the softball parents, I was informed a little more closely as to what happened. Although she had JUST been moved to third base, Paige Wilson overheard and saw signs that the baserunner on third base was trying to steal home plate and tie the game when Chelsea would turn around and walk out of the back of the circle with her back turned. This prompted Paige Wilson to jog over to the circle and inform Chelsea of what was happening and what happened on the very next pitch? VOILA! Chelsea turned her back and walked to the very back of the circle without stepping out and looked back the runner who was attempting to steal home. Thus, the runner was called out and Georgia cleverly avoided a South Carolina rally in the final inning. This is one of the best in-game stories I have heard in a while! When outs are becoming harder to come by, just go ahead and outsmart them, girls! LOL.

2. Chelsea’s Double: We have seen many offensive line-ups this year haven’t we? Well, we got the chance to see a drastically new batting order today as the coaches had Wilkinson batting in the 8-spot of the order. I watched Chelsea make her first trip to the plate over a month ago in Rock Hill, South Carolina against Delaware State. In that outing, Chelsea hit the ball hard and semi-deep to left field, but it was caught about 10-15 yards from the fence. When the announcers said that Wilkinson was batting in today’s rubber match, I surely thought this was another SID error with GameTracker or something. Nope and nope. Wilkinson got to get her hacks in at the plate today, and while she struck out in her first trip to the plate in SEC play, she made her second one count and drove a pitch hard to the gap in the outfield. Go Chelsea! Chelsea was a great hitter for average and power while in high school, and maybe she will give us some pop on occasion at the bottom of the line-up. No doubt, we will see Chelsea get a few more trips to the plate here in 2013.

Georgia welcomes the Texas A&M Aggies to Jack Turner Stadium this upcoming weekend after hosting the USC-Upstate Spartans to town for a mid-week contest that is sure to be a good one. Both the Aggies and the Spartans come in ranked in the Top 25 polls, so this will be another set of tough chances for Georgia to prove how good they really are! Confidence goes a long way. Talent goes a long way. Showing fight goes a long way. Put that trio of qualities together and you cannot lose! Here’s looking forward to continuing to find success in between the chalk lines, ladies.

As always, Go Dawgs!

#CommitToTheG