Looking Back & Looking Forward!

I really dropped the ball, no pun intended, with the blog as the end of the 2013 season approached. This post will give all of you Georgia Softball fans a quick recap of some of the awards and accomplishments Georgia garnered in 2013.

Georgia finished the 2013 season with an overall record of 40-21 to go along with making the  championship game of the Tempe Regional against the Arizona State Sun Devils. The keys to the pitching puzzle seemed to fit towards the end of the season as Montemayor and Wilkinson baffled opponents consistently for the last month of the season. Perhaps this will be a sign of things to come in the circle next year?! Last I heard, Geri Ann has been working very hard on her approach and spin in the off season and I super excited to see how she looks in the Fall.

For her outstanding performance at both the plate and in the circle in 2013, the NFCA tabbed Georgia rookie standout, Geri Ann Glasco, as a 3rd-Team All American. Paige Wilson was named an Easton 1st-Team All American, while Geri Ann Glasco and Kaylee Puailoa both garnered 2nd-Team honors.

Image

1st Team All-SEC and Easton 2nd Team All-American rookie slugger, Kaylee Puailoa, takes a healthy cut in a 2013 contest. (Courtesy GeorgiaDogs.com, shot by Evan Stichler)

Paige Wilson led the 2013 Georgia Bulldogs at the plate with a .403 average, 16 home runs, 66 RBI, and an impressive 1.169 OPS. Geri Ann Glasco (.363, 19 HR, 61 RBI, 1.204 OPS) and Kaylee Puailoa (.380, 16 HR, 54 RBI, 1.182 OPS) also put up monster numbers from the plate as rookies!

Georgia has two incoming freshmen that are poised to make an immediate impact in the form of Malia Rivers (Brentwood, CA) and Maeve McGuire (Downers Grove, IL). Over the Summer, Malia Rivers was tagged as the Player of the Year in the Bay Valley Athletic League and also earned 1st-Team All East Bay honors after batting .595 at the plate with a team-high 25 runs batted in. Over a thousand miles away from Malia, Maeve McGuire was racking up hits at the plate as well. In her senior season, the returning Chicago Sun-Times Player of the Year batted a .515 clip with nine home runs and 51 RBIs. McGuire finished her career at Benet Academy with a .472 career average and 25 home runs.

Malia Rivers takes a swing in a 2013 game for Western High School. (Courtesy, The Press Online)

It is no secret that Georgia’s offense was just as explosive as it has been in recent years in 2013. I cannot begin to imagine about how powerful our offense can be in 2014 if things gradually are progressing and hard work is being put in over the Summer! I truly believe that Malia Rivers is going to be as good as they come in the SEC once she settles in. Combine her speed and athleticism with the power and discipline of Maeve McGuire and you have two stud rookies on your roster!

Pencil in a last second surprise or two, a transfer, and some much-needed improvements in pitching strategy and I think Georgia is going to give everyone a run for their money for the next three years. We have some pretty big match-ups in 2014, including finally getting to face off against Owen from Mississippi State and an already-looming match-up against Alabama in Tuscaloosa this time around. There is no doubt in my mind that if pitching would have been as good as it was in the end for the entire season, that the 2013 squad could have made it much further in the post season, but hey, that’s what it is all about…Learning!

I believe we can expect to see a much-improved pitching staff in 2014 in the form of Morgan Montemayor, Chelsea Wilkinson, and Geri Ann Glasco. If the hitting gets even 1% better from 2013 to 2014, we will still be able to out-hit a majority of the opponents we face, including most of the SEC programs. No doubt about it, we are not the only young team that is looking for a trophy…Kentucky, LSU, and Florida just to name a few.

With the graduation of the likes of Ivy Renfroe, Chelsea Thomas, Rachele Fico, Raven Chavanne, and others, the SEC becomes a wide-open race for the top spot. With their strong, reloaded offense, and with some improved work from the circle, I have complete confidence that the Bulldogs are going to pose a huge threat in 2014.

Here’s looking forward to another great season in 2014! To think, only two months or so until Fall Practices and three months away from some Fall Ball games! Bring it on!

As always, Go Dawgs!

Advertisements

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)