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.

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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!

Georgia Wins Series, Throttles 7th-Ranked LSU 10-5

On a day where it seemed that rain was going to ruin any chance of Georgia playing their Strike Out Cancer game against No. 7 LSU, the weather cleared up perfectly and Georgia rallied to defeat the Tigers by a 10-5 final score. Morgan Montemayor (12-6) picked up the win in the circle after relieving Geri Ann Glasco, while LSU’s Ashley Czechner (10-1) suffered her first loss of the year. Despite trailing 5-2 in the fifth inning, Georgia mounted a huge comeback to erase the deficit and pull ahead by a comfortable margin.

Words cannot express how proud I am for what this team has been able to accomplish over the past 3 weeks. After playing back-to-back-to-back series against Texas A&M, Florida, and LSU, the girls are now 6-2 against Top 15 competition and 3-2 over Top 10 foes in the  past three weeks! It is insane to think about some of the quality wins that our Dawgs are piling up, especially when you consider the youth and inexperience that many thought would be the death of us this season. It seems that the offense has caught fire and that pitching is confident in the circle with the way our bats have been. Although the SEC season was tough at times and proved to be quite stressful on some of us fans, our Bulldogs have rounded the corner and are looking strong heading into the SEC Tournament in Lexington.

Geri Ann Glasco started Sunday's game in the circle against 7th-ranked LSU

Geri Ann Glasco started Sunday’s game in the circle against 7th-ranked LSU. (Courtesy GeorgiaDogs.com, shot by Evan Stichler)

In Lexington, Georgia will be the #5 seed and will face off against none other than the #4 seeded LSU Tigers. It looks as if we will end up getting three games in, after all! In some ways, I am confident that we can handle the Tigers again, although it is hard to beat any team in the SEC three times in a season. When you throw in Fico and Bianka Bell, the Bayou Bengals are a tough squad! Here’s hoping for a stellar SEC Tournament and an even better post season!

In today’s game, Georgia jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second with two outs. With Anna Swafford and Niaja Griffin on first and third base, respectively, they executed a perfect double steal to give Georgia the 1-0 lead. Paige Wilson promptly followed by tattooing a rise ball from Ashley Czechner over the head of Simone Heyward in right field to make the score 2-0. The LSU bats would come alive to tie the game in the fourth inning 2-2 and eventually pull ahead 5-2 in the fifth inning after a bases loaded HBP and a two-run double.

LSU led the Georgia Bulldogs by a 5-2 tally heading into the bottom of the fifth inning, but it would now be Georgia’s turn to put on a hitting clinic off of Czechner. Anna Swafford led off the fifth inning with a monster home run over the trees and scoreboard in left field. When I watched the replay of her bomb on WatchEspn, I got a kick out of how Michelle commented on how hard it was hit! Georgia would settle for only one run in the fifth, but would go on to score seven runs in the bottom of the sixth. Katie Browne started the Georgia scoring off with a clutch two-run double to the gap in left center to score LaZear and Olney. With the game tied, Anna Swafford hit a hot shot to Tammy Wray at third and reached via the error, in turn scoring Tiesha Reed from third base. Paige Wilson followed with yet another moonshot home run, her 15th of the season, to dead center field. It got even sweeter as Geri Ann Glasco followed by taking the first pitch she saw from Czechner to dead center for back-t0-back long balls for the Bulldogs. Georgia would carry a convincing 10-5 lead into the bottom of the final frame of the game.

Senior Christine Olney connects for a base hit to left field on Sunday against LSU.

Senior Christine Olney connects for a base hit to left field on Sunday against LSU. (Courtesy GeorgiaDogs.com, shot by Evan Stichler)

In the bottom of the 7th inning, the seventh ranked team in the country threatened to cut into Georgia’s lead, but Morgan Montemayor had other plans. With the bases loaded and two outs, MoMo induced a weak groundout back to the circle that she fielded for the final out of the contest. Morgan is showing every day that she is such a huge threat as a closer and that she is going to be one of the key pieces to getting deep into the post season! Go MoMo! Keep up the awesome work!

Although we may hear a chorus of people try to convince us that we beat LSU’s number two pitcher, I would like to point out that our 24th-ranked Georgia Bulldogs handed Czechner her first loss of the year. I was very impressed with Czechner in the beginning, but she slowly came unraveled as the batters started making better contact. I hope for Beth Torina and Czechner’s sake that she is able to improve because I do not know who else LSU has to pitch next year! Overall, I think LSU is a very good squad and we are not out of the water with them just yet. In fact, we play them in less than a week in the Quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament in Lexington on ESPNU. The game will be broadcast LIVE on ESPNU and WatchEspn at approximately 1:30 PM Eastern Time on Thursday.

Once again, we are getting the job done with some timely defense and some even better hitting. We are going to need to continue the hot streak at the plate in order to get wins over the big teams, but what will be even more key is constantly mixing up the pitching versatility/rotation. Geri Ann has shown that she can be very effective against teams for anywhere from 2-4 innings. After that, all the opposing hitters do are get down their timing because she lacks that killer off-speed pitch that many successful SEC pitchers have. Once she adds in the off-speed to go in with the change/screw/rise/drop she will be excellent. Chelsea had limited innings in this series and I am glad we did not have to show her off too much because I would guess that she gets the start against them on Thursday in the SEC Tournament. You cannot say enough about how good Wilkinson has been the past few Fridays against the likes of A&M and Florida, and I truly think she will continue this hot streak against some big teams here down the home stretch.

One thing is for sure, Georgia is on a surge and I have the feeling that they aren’t gonna be looking back anytime soon. It will be a tough task to beat LSU for a third consecutive time, and this time we will have to do it at a neutral site. At neutral sites in 2013, our Georgia Bulldogs are 6-4 overall. I really think that we can get an awesome performance from both our pitchers and offense against Fico and LSU in Lexington!

Excited to hear that the program raised almost $6,000 for breast cancer awareness, and it was so cool to see the breast cancer survivor throw out the first pitch. The crowd was awesome considering the way the weather was all morning, but who would have known that the sun would have came out? With the way the team played today, maybe the girls should wear the pink jerseys until we lose a game. Maybe they’re good luck! Haha! 😀

As always, Go Dawgs!

PS: Here’s hoping Paige Wilson gets POW! 5-7 with 3 HR and 6 RBI. Nice!

Niaja Griffin went 2-3 on Sunday, collected 2 slap hits off of Ashley Czechner of LSU

Niaja Griffin went 2-3 on Sunday, collecting 2 slap hits off of Ashley Czechner of LSU. (Courtesy GeorgiaDogs.com, shot by Evan Stichler)

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)

Bulldogs Sweep 13th-Ranked Texas A&M

(VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS HERE)
Georgia Softball earned their second Southeastern Conference series in as many weekends, this time thanks to a three-game sweep of the 13th-ranked Texas A&M Aggies. After winning 3-1 on Friday and 12-7 on Saturday, Georgia finished up the weekend strong with a hard-fought 6-3 victory over the Aggies. Morgan Montemayor picked up the win in the circle on Saturday and Sunday, improving her record to 11-6 on the 2013 campaign. On Sunday, MoMo pitched five innings, gave up one earned run, struck out two, and walked just one batter. This sport is all about timely leadership and getting “hot” at the right time of the season…if you ask me, I think the girls are all stepping up big time, especially the pitching staff! Today’s game, once again, gave us an opportunity to see how good we can really be when we play error-free ball and have smart base-running to go along with some STELLAR pitching!

Thoughts go out to Aggie senior pitcher, Mel Dumezich, on a speedy recovery if she is indeed in pain or injured. One must assume that she is hurt after not seeing her in the line-up whatsoever in the final two games. The Aggies are a superb team with her in the circle, but this weekend showed how vulnerable they can be when they do not score runs behind their second and third string pitchers. I wish all the best of luck to A&M for the remainder of the season!

On another note, I really hope this win can get us back into one or both of the Top 25 Polls. I think that would really boost the girls’ confidence even more and get them pumped up for the big series with Florida next weekend! Without a doubt, the RPI will get a big boost after beating the #12 RPI team back-to-back-to-back in convincing fashion. The motto for this year’s team should definitely focus on finishing strong, after all, it is all about how you respond and how you finish! It is an exciting time to be a Georgia Softball fan, as I think this team has endless potential and is really going to come on even stronger here in the closing two weeks of SEC play. We have to face the Gators in Gainesville before coming home to host the LSU Tigers in Athens. It is not going to be easy, but we all know that already! Hard work pays off, Dawgs! Keep it up!

Tina Iosefa hit a 2-run home run and was 3-4 at the plate on Sunday against Texas A&M

Tina Iosefa hit a 2-run home run and was 3-4 at the plate on Sunday against Texas A&M (Courtesy GeorgiaDogs.com, shot by Evan Stichler)

In today’s outing, the weather was beautiful and the crowd was even better! Georgia got the scoring going in the opening frame of the contest thanks in part to a leadoff slap single up the middle by Niaja Griffin. Man, Aja was a tough out to come by this weekend for the Aggies…seeing nothing but good from Niaja right now! Love it! After Niaja singled and stole second base, she would eventually be knocked in off a two-out RBI single from Kaylee Puailoa! It’s the Year of the Moooooose, ladies and gentlemen! The best part of this plate appearance by Moose was that she did not have to do anything fancy to score Aja from second. With two strikes on her, Kaylee simply hit a single into right field off the end of the bat on a pretty good change-up from A&M’s Ainsley. Could we finally be sitting back on the off-speed and driving it? This is a huge improvement and has caused us grief in the past, so it goes without saying that it is awesome to see us hit a plethora of good hits this weekend off of Ainsley’s change-up.

In the top of the 2nd inning, the Aggies loaded the bases and scored two runs off a slap single up the middle off the bat of Brittany Clopton. In the bottom of the frame, all while trailing 2-1, Tess Sito laid down a beautiful bunt single and then promptly stole second base. Anna Swafford followed by drawing a walk and advanced to second after Katie Browne sacrifice bunted both runners over. A fielder’s choice slap off the bat of Sam LaZear tied the contest at 2-2, and Niaja Griffin continued her hot streak with a slap RBI single to the pitcher. Georgia would hold off scoring any more runs until the sixth inning when Tina Iosefa belted a two-run home run off the foul pole in left field. The bomb by Tina was her 14th of the season and Georgia’s nation-leading 82nd of the 2013 season. Georgia would add one last insurance run off a pinch-hit single from Christine Olney that was stroked hard into right field.

Texas A&M tried to mount a rally after a leadoff home run in the 7th inning off the bat of Amber Garza. This was Garza’s second home run of the weekend after she crushed a pitch from Chelsea Wilkinson earlier in the series. This would be all of the scoring that Texas A&M would be able to manage as Morgan Montemayor made a web gem snag off a rocket up the middle from Nicole Morgan just before popping up Meagan May for the final out of the contest. With the win, Georgia improves to 34-15 on the year and 11-7 in SEC play. With the loss, the 13th-ranked Aggies fall to 35-12 overall and 6-11 in conference play.

Samantha LaZear relays a throw back to the infield in a game against Texas A&M

Samantha LaZear relays a throw back to the infield in a game against Texas A&M (Courtesy GeorgiaDogs.com, shot by Evan Stichler)

The defense looks much better, LaZear and Niaja are on fire, and pitching is absolutely dominating! It is worth noting that Niaja and Sam combined to go 12-23 (.523 average) this week. WOW! What a great weekend of Georgia Bulldog Softball, eh Dawg fans? Not only have our speedy lefties been absolute Hell on opposing defenses as of late, but our bats are becoming more and more clutch with each and every game. The thing that is so awesome about this year’s squad is that when one of the players are not producing in a certain game or situation, another kid steps up and makes a big play, throws a good pitch, or gets a clutch hit. There is no definitive superstar on this team, despite each and every girl putting up absolute STUD numbers this season. There is a positive energy surrounding this young club right now and I truly think the sky is the limit! The question marks that were surrounding this year’s squad were never a matter of “If” but rather a question concerning “When” they would settle in and start shaping up. I think that time is NOW and I am so excited to get to see the girls face off against two talented SEC squads in the form of the Florida Gators and LSU Tigers.

Before heading to the Swamp for a three-game series with Florida, Georgia will face Georgia State  on Wednesday at 6pm in the friendly confines of Jack Turner Stadium. Wednesday night’s contest with Georgia State is “$1 Hot Dog Night” fans so be sure to come pig out and see some great softball. 😀

As always, Go Dawgs!

#CommitToTheG          #BombSquadPuppies          #RoadToWCWS

Tess Sito slides into second base on a beautifully executed steal against Texas A&M

Tess Sito slides into second base on a beautifully executed steal against Texas A&M (Courtesy GeorgiaDogs.com, shot by Evan Stichler)

Georgia 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

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 Drops Three to Tennessee, Faces Western Carolina Wednesday

Despite hitting five home runs in three games against one of the top teams in the conference and in the nation, Georgia was swept by the Lady Volunteers in Athens this past weekend. Georgia had chances to make some noise and try to steal a win or two from Tennessee, but could not seem to get the big hit at the right time. In the end, Georgia was defeated 10-3, 9-2, and 6-1. Although it would seemingly be time for panic with the Dawgs having been swept in their last two SEC series, think otherwise. Not only is Tennessee one of the most experienced and decorated teams in the nation (pitching and offensively), but they also have been playing some tough competition all year long and have gotten to see some caliber of play that we have not.

The three losses to Tennessee remind me so much of the losses in 2009 to Florida in Gainesville when the Gators swept the Dawgs convincingly, but yet both the Bulldogs and the Gators were in Oklahoma City for the WCWS in June. With each loss and with each clash with a tough foe, our young Dawgs are getting better and better, especially on the pitching end. Despite giving up 33 hits in total to the Volunteers over the weekend, between 8-10 of those hits were flares to no-man’s land, bloop singles, and weak grounders through the left and right side. I feel confident that with a little defensive work (much-needed), that the girls will truly be able to hang in there with anybody. Just like in 2009, it takes a little while to get acclimated to tough SEC play, and I have faith that this team can still make it very far. Keep up the hard work, ladies!

Anna Swafford hit two home runs against Tennessee–one off of Ivy Renfroe and one off of Ellen Renfroe. (Courtesy The Red & Black)

In the losses, I was able to see some really good things and also noticed some particularly bothersome things. Here is a short list of things I took away from the games:

1. Base-running: We still look uncomfortable at times on the base pads, and base running cost us some key outs in the series against Tennessee. Granted, sometimes you simply get dealt some tough luck when running the bases, but this team must balance their aggressive base-pad tendencies with a more focused approach if we are going to steal bases and move runners into scoring position successfully.

2. Clutch hitting: Yes, we were able to knock five bombs out of the park off of the Renfroe Sisters, but look at the instances where the dingers were hit! All five home runs hit by our Dawgs in the series were solo shots–this hurt us a lot! If we were able to just get one or two people on in front of just half of those home runs, the scores would have looked much more competitive and we would have certainly stood a shot at taking a game or two! The same thing applies for some big hits over the weekend…it seems all the big hits and extra-base hits came with nobody on base. The one really positive thing that I took away in terms of our hitting is that we can hit the ball hard against good pitching, but can we learn to do it at the right time? In time, I think so.

3. In the Circle: No doubt about it, the Bulldogs have four very talented pitchers on their roster, but the big question this year has been who to throw when, and what pitch sequences to use for each pitcher against different types of opposing batters. I really saw a lot of positive things from Chelsea Wilkinson this past weekend, and I think if she can find confidence in her fast drop ball, then she is going to have a plethora of success this season and in the future. Geri Ann did a great job in game two against the Vols, but walks started piling up and Tennessee definitely took advantage of that. Our young pitchers tend to want to give up a walk to a batter, rather than giving up a hit, and so in doing this they simply pick around the batter and the zone. For our young hurlers to be successful in the SEC and in the post season, they are going to have to have a cut-throat mentality and go right at opposing hitters. It has to be their best pitch versus a hitter’s best swing. Simple as that. Morgan Montemayor struggled in the opening two innings of play in the Friday game against Tennessee, but was brilliant in the final innings of the Sunday match-up. I have said it once, and I will say it again: MoMo needs to be a Craig Kimbrel-esque closer and we will get timely, positive results out of her. She could easily be one of the best closers in the game, despite the “closer” role not being used very frequently in fastpitch.

Georgia continues play tonight (Wednesday) at 4pm and 6pm against Western Carolina here in Athens. The Western Carolina Catamounts have an overall record of 15-26 and have amassed a 5-10 SoCon record. Georgia will look to add two more wins to their resumé before heading to Columbia, South Carolina to take on the Gamecocks this weekend.

As always, Go Dawgs!

#CommitToTheG