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

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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

 

Georgia Sweeps Western Carolina, Splits to Open Series Against South Carolina

I recently purchased a new laptop after my old one finally died, hence the delay in updating the blog over the past few weeks. Do not worry loyal followers and fans, as long as there is such a thing as Georgia Bulldog Softball, I will be blogging and keeping everyone up to date. This post is a hybrid re-cap of the midweek double dip with Western Carolina and the opening two games of the South Carolina series. Georgia swept Western Carolina, 12-0 (5 innings) and 9-0 (5 innings), before splitting the opening two games in Columbia by final scores of 2-6 and 7-6.

In the midweek games against Western Carolina, the Bulldogs managed to score an eye-popping 21 runs combined. What makes those numbers even more intriguing is that the UGA offense scored all of their runs without hitting a single home run. We are going to need more line drive and doubles power if we want to make it deep into the postseason. We cannot always win on the long ball, as made evident by the series with Tennessee. Kaylee “Moose” Puailoa led the Bulldogs at the plate against Western Carolina by going 5-6 with a team-best 8 runs batted in. Morgan Montemayor picked up the win in the first contest, while Geri Ann Glasco got the win in the second game.

Chelsea Wilkinson in relief action against Western Carolina on Wednesday in Athens.

Chelsea Wilkinson in relief action against Western Carolina on Wednesday in Athens. (Courtesy GeorgiaDogs.com, shot by Evan Stichler)

In the first game of the SEC series with South Carolina, Georgia fell by a final score of 6-2 to the Gamecocks. Geri Ann Glasco fell to 17-5 on the year and the Bulldogs fell to 6-7 in SEC play following the loss. South Carolina wasted no time getting on the board, scoring two runs in the bottom of the second on an RBI hit and a throwing error. In the bottom of the third inning, Hawkins delivered a two-run hit to the grass to bring the South Carolina lead to 4-0. Georgia would finally get on the board in the top of the fourth inning on a solo shot over the fence from Tess Sito. Another two-run single, this time in the bottom of the fifth by Sami Garcia, scored two more runs for the Gamecocks to extend the lead to 6-1. Georgia would try to scrap back, putting two runners on with no outs in the seventh and final inning, but alas, the Bulldogs could only manage a lone run and fell 6-2 in regulation. South Carolina hit the ball hard off of Glasco all night long, but the lack of timely defense was truly what let this game get out of hand for our Bulldogs.

In the second contest against the Gamecocks, Geri Ann Glasco hit three moonshots off of two different South Carolina pitchers to extend her SEC-leading home run total to 16 long balls. With the three hits, Glasco also put herself in first place overall in the SEC for RBIs with 51 runs driven in on the season so far. Morgan Montemayor got the start for the Bulldogs and picked up the win, while Chelsea Wilkinson picked up the save for the Bulldogs in the final frame. This game was a thriller to the very end, but had a somewhat non-climactic ending (depending on who you ask) as the final out of the game was recorded when a South Carolina runner was off of the base in some way while the pitcher was in the circle.

Geri Ann Glasco hit a towering shot over the fence to get the Georgia scoring going in the top of the first inning after Paige Wilson hit a hard double to start the game. South Carolina forced the Dawgs to make some sloppy plays in the bottom frame of the opening inning and plated four unearned runs off of MoMo. This would be all the scoring the Gamecocks would get until the seventh and final frame when things REALLY got interesting. With two outs in the top of the second inning, Paige Wilson singled before Geri Ann Glasco hit her second towering shot of the day to tie the game at 4-4. The Bulldogs extended their lead to 5-4 in the fifth inning when Kaylee Puailoa (Moooooooooose!) hit a no-doubter over the right center field wall. In the seventh inning, despite having already hit two home runs on the day, Geri Ann Glasco just was not through yet as she hit her third two-run BOMB of the day, this time off of last night’s winning pitcher (Sarrat) to increase the lead to 7-4. But, just when you thought the game was over, think again! South Carolina rallied with one out to plate two earned runs off of MoMo, before she was pulled for rookie Chelsea Wilkinson. Chelsea walked the bases loaded with one out before retiring the following batter on a routine pop-up on the infield. Then, in somewhat odd fashion, one of Carolina’s runners was called out for being off the base…or something like that? Either way, our Dawgs and Dawg fans will take a win no matter what it looks like!

With her three home runs on the day, Geri Ann Glasco moved into first place for home runs in the SEC (16) and RBI (51). Congratulations, Geri! Keep it up!!

Geri Ann Glasco went 3-4 with three home runs and 6 runs batted in on Saturday against the Gamecocks.

Geri Ann Glasco went 3-4 with three home runs and 6 runs batted in on Saturday against the Gamecocks. (Courtesy GeorgiaDogs.com, shot by Evan Stichler)

I have to admit, this season has been a roller coaster ride so far, and yes there have been some major bumps along the way. The girls got off to a rough start and let their nerves get the best of them as they dropped their fair share of early-season contests. Then, they got extremely hot and ripped off 17 consecutive wins before being swept by a gritty Arkansas squad. At first glance, the three losses to Arkansas seemed like an extremely bad omen, but after the way the Hogs have been playing as of late, I really am not too bothered by them. Could we have played better against the Hogs and taken a win or two? Sure. Did we? No. The girls rebounded and won their mid-week game before being outplayed and swept in the series against Tennessee. Base-running mistakes, defensive errors, and lack of clutch hitting sealed the Dawg’s fate against the veteran Lady Vols club. You really cannot feel too horrible about losing to a Top-5 national program with a plethora of All-American players in the line-up. In fact, I actually did not feel too bad at all about the way we played against Tennessee considering how much closer and competitive the games would have been with a little better defense and base running.

With regards to the loss last night to the Gamecocks, the girls simply were baffled by the off-speed junk and failed to put the bat on the ball when it mattered most. You cannot win ball games when you leave 12 runners on base against a pitcher with a good change-up. The girls had a ton of opportunities to score a lot of runs in game one but just could not seem to catch a break. Not taking any credit away from this talented Gamecocks team, as they have played close games with just about everyone in the SEC. South Carolina played three incredibly close contests with Alabama and last week managed to take 1/3 games from LSU. The girls came out today and responded well with their backs against the wall for the third consecutive week. Following a logic that I touched upon earlier in the season, South Carolina beat LSU, who defeated Texas A&M today, which means we have a chance against both the Tigers and the Aggies…both series which are in Athens! As far as the series against Florida goes, I think it can go either way considering that both rosters are extremely young and inexperienced. Florida lost a game to Auburn, just before the Dawgs swept Auburn, so there lies that logic again! 😉

I have been very pleased with the way our slap hitters, LaZear and Griffin, have stepped up as of late. Both girls have been finesse slapping and power slapping for average over the past two weeks, and that is EXACTLY what we need to do to provide multiple runs for out team when we do hit the long ball or the hard line drives! I think the coaching staff must have had a good talk with the girls after the loss last night because the offense seemed to be fired up today! Morgan Montemayor showed that she can indeed go an extended outing after she pitched six innings without giving up an earned run. Sure, she got touched up right there at the end, but she had to have been getting tired and a little predictable at this point. Great job, MoMo! Keep it up because we need you! Despite only having to truly face two batters, you have to give a ton of credit to the rookie hurler, Chelsea Wilkinson, for coming in and ending the game in Georgia’s favor. Good job, Chels!!!

I have a really good feeling about this club, and if Lu will keep the defense with Sito at shortstop, Blanco at second base, and Paige at third base, I think we have a great shot of limiting opponents to 2-3 runs or less a game. We know we can score, but we have to have the confidence to know that we can hold opponents to low run totals. Sometimes, the game seems overly complicated and can create so many mental blocks that make playing frustrating and intimidating. In reality, to be successful you cannot over complicate the game.

All it takes is to give it your all on the field for a full seven innings, and to realize that the game is as simple as getting outs and scoring runs. I feel a good wave of energy coming our way and here’s to finishing the season strong and on the right foot!

As always, Go Dawgs!!!

#CommitToTheG

Tess Sito played a brilliant stint at SS against South Carolina on Saturday.

Tess Sito played a brilliant stint at SS against South Carolina on Saturday. Sito (pictured above) is shown in action on Wednesday against Western Carolina. (Courtesy GeorgiaDogs.com, shot by Evan Stichler)

Georgia Dominates Georgia Tech, 20-1

Video Highlights Here!

Well ladies and gentlemen, the Bulldogs once again made a big statement with regards to what school runs the state when it comes to softball! Georgia not only defeated the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets tonight, but they absolutely crushed them by a final score of 20-1. The Bulldogs combined to hit a whopping six home runs in front of a rowdy, capacity crowd. Tonight was by far the largest crowd of the season with standing room only available. Now that’s what I like to see! Go Dawgs! 😀

Georgia played in front of a capacity crowd on Wednesday night in Athens against Georgia Tech.

Georgia played in front of a capacity crowd on Wednesday night in Athens against Georgia Tech. (Courtesy GeorgiaDogs.com, shot by Evan Stichler)

Tonight’s game was one of those contests where if you are Georgia Tech, you hope you wake up in a cold sweat and it was all just one big nightmare. Unfortunately for the Yellow Jackets, they would have no such luck and headed back to Atlanta after taking their largest loss of the season. I expected this match-up to be much more competitive than the previous meeting this year between the two teams, but this was not the case. All of the girls hit the ball hard and the defense/pitching looked superb. Montemayor and Wilkinson were absolutely brilliant tonight!

Georgia got out to a monstrous lead in the first inning after scoring 12 runs. These first inning runs would prove to be more than enough as Georgia Tech would only manage to plate a single run off of Montemayor via a fielder’s choice. In the opening frame, the Georgia Tech starting pitcher, Karly Fullem, was a little wild to say the least. After a walked in run and a two-run single from Olney, Katie Browne blasted her third long ball of the year–this time a 3-run shot to the scoreboard. The inning would continue thanks to a string of hits and walks, and the scoring would be capped off after Kaylee Puailoa creamed a Fullem pitch over the wall for a Grand Slam. Despite using a lot of offensive firepower early, Georgia would not stop there. The Bulldogs continued their hot offense in the bottom of the second inning after Niaja Griffin reached on an error, followed by a smoked double to the left field corner by leadoff hitter, Anna Swafford. Tess Sito led off the third inning with a solo shot to center field off of the new Tech pitcher, Kleinschmidt, and her shot was hit a LONG way! Awesome hit, Sito! Georgia Tech scored their lone run in the game after Ashley Thomas hit a long single and eventually scored on a fielder’s choice. A pair of 2-run home runs by Tina Iosefa, her 13th, and Christine Olney, just her 3rd, would seal the already inevitable fate for Georgia Tech in the bottom half of the fourth inning. Morgan Montemayor picked up the win after giving up just one hit, while striking out 8 batters. Chelsea Wilkinson finished the game in the 5th inning with a perfect outing, striking out two and popping up the final batter of the game.

Morgan Montemayor delivers a pitch in Wednesday's outing against Georgia Tech.

Morgan Montemayor delivers a pitch in Wednesday’s outing against Georgia Tech.

I think the girls not only hit the ball well, but pitching was absolutely fantastic all night! If the girls can play the way they played tonight and put some good swings on the ball, I really think they have a chance to win against Tennessee. No doubt, Tennessee is an experienced and talented team, but with the way we have been swinging the bats combined with how pitching looked tonight, we are going to give them one heck of a run for their money!

It feels good to know that we are the best team in the state of Georgia because there are some really talented clubs in the Peach State. Until next year, see you later pesky little Bumblebees! 😉

As always, Go Dawgs!

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)

Georgia Stays Hot, Sweeps Ole Miss!

Forced to play two games today due to incoming Sunday storms, Georgia completed the SEC sweep over the Ole Miss Rebels with two run-rule victories. Georgia won the first game by a final score of 14-5 in a 5-inning victory. Things looked pretty similar in the second game of the day as the Dawgs once again dominated, this time in 12-4 fashion (6 innings). Geri Ann Glasco improved to 15-1 on the season by picking up the win in the first game, but it was Chelsea Wilkinson that moved to 3-1 after getting the win in the second contest. Morgan Montemayor came in to relieve Wilkinson in the bottom of the 4th inning and looked great–striking out the side on some 70-71 MPH heat!

In the first game of the day, things got off to a shaky start when Glasco gave up four earned runs to start the game. An RBI single followed by a long ball from Erin Jayjohn put the Rebels up 4-0 early in the game, but the Dawgs were certainly not going to roll over and play dead. Georgia exploded for 9 runs in the bottom of the first inning. Georgia initially scored thanks to a bases-loaded Moose single, followed by a walk, single, and HBP to bring things to a tie. The scoring did not stop here as Georgia plated 5 more runs on a wild pitch, a bases-clearing triple from Anna Swafford, and a single up the middle from Glasco.

Anna Swafford lets out a roar of excitement after hitting a 3-run triple on Saturday against Ole Miss.

Anna Swafford lets out a roar of excitement after hitting a 3-run triple on Saturday against Ole Miss. (Courtesy GeorgiaDogs.com, shot by Evan Stichler)

Geri Ann Glasco hit her first long ball of the day in the third inning to bring the Georgia lead to 10-4. Georgia would make the score 11-4 in the fourth inning when Tess Sito ripped a ball to the wall to score Sam LaZear. Ole Miss plated a run off of a fielder’s choice in the top of the 5th inning, although a pair of bombs by Glasco and Puailoa would end the game prematurely with the final score situated at 14-5 in 5 innings.

Georgia’s second contest of the day against the Rebels once again saw the Georgia offense explode in the opening frame of play. Geri Ann Glasco hit her third blast of the day deep over the wall, followed by a moonshot from Tina Iosefa to make the score 2-0 early in the contest. Both offenses would fall into a lull until the 4th inning when Erin Jayjohn hit her second home run of the day off of Georgia pitching. Georgia would see the lead turn into a tie in the fifth inning via a Culley slap-hit home run that barely fell fair over the right field wall. Refusing to go away, Georgia scored two runs in the bottom of the 5th inning thanks to an absolutely crushed shot over the scoreboard by Katie Browne and also on a passed ball. Ole Miss turned to Erin Jayjohn in relief of starter Carley Hummel in the 5th inning, but Jayjohn wouldn’t have much luck either as Tina Iosefa took a ball deep over the outfield wall to put the Bulldogs up by a 7-2 score.

Geri Ann Glasco hit three home runs on Saturday against Ole Miss.

Geri Ann Glasco hit three home runs on Saturday against Ole Miss. (Courtesy GeorgiaDogs.com, shot by Evan Stichler)

Just as things started to look put away, Ole Miss led off the sixth inning with back-to-back launches from Allison Brown and London Ladner. In the bottom of the sixth inning, ahead of the Rebels by a 7-4 tally, Georgia scored 5 runs to end the game via the mercy rule for the second consecutive contest. A bases loaded walk scored Georgia’s first run, before Kaylee Puailoa singled in Wilson and Glasco to bring the lead to 10-4. Tess Sito provided the heroics by busting a shot just off the top of the wall to score the final two runs of the game for the Bulldogs, essentially ending the game in walk-off run-rule fashion.

Georgia is now riding a 15-game winning streak and improves to 25-7 (6-0 SEC) overall. I am so proud of this team and looking back at the team that started the first month of the season, I cannot even begin to explain how much better the girls have gotten. Leading the nation in most offensive categories, our young Bulldog pups are showing that they are going to be a tough out for the next four seasons. But, it is so much more than the young Dawgs producing–Sito, Olney, Swafford, Wilson, and Griffin are all hitting the ball hard too! Tess Sito has really pummeled the ball the last two weeks, and I cannot wait to see her help lead this group throughout what is proving to be an incredibly exciting journey! Despite giving up four runs, all coming from solo home runs, Chelsea Wilkinson looked great in the circle and I expect her to see her get a fair share of innings as the months go on.

Georgia's dugout does the "Moose" cheer for Georgia rookie OF/U, Kaylee Puailoa, in a game against Ole Miss.

Georgia’s dugout does the “Moose” cheer for Georgia rookie OF/U, Kaylee Puailoa, in a game against Ole Miss. (Courtesy GeorgiaDogs.com, shot by Evan Stichler)

From 7-6 to 25-7 and an untouched SEC record, it does not get much more impressive than that, folks! There has never been a more exciting time to be a Georgia Bulldog Softball fan! Sic’ Em Dawgs!!! Georgia will return to action on Wednesday night when they take on in-state foe, Georgia Southern. After the mid-week contest with the Georgia Southern Eagles, Georgia will make the long journey to Fayetteville, Arkansas to face the Arkansas Razorbacks. Earlier today, the Razorbacks were swept by the Florida Gators, although the third game came down to the wire between the two. Florida won 1-0 on a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 7th inning. I have said it a thousand times, and I will probably say it a thousand more times, but there is nothing scarier than having to face a group of confident young kids!

As always, Go Dawgs!!!