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!




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, 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, 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!!!


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, shot by Evan Stichler)