Bulldogs Dominate LSU, Fall Short to Gators in SEC Semifinals

Although the 2013 SEC Tournament did not end up going exactly how the 23rd-ranked Georgia Bulldogs would have liked, the girls from Athens showed a heck of a lot of fight en route to a tie for third place overall out of ten very talented programs. Chelsea Wilkinson pitched an absolute gem in the Quarterfinals against 9th-ranked LSU, blanking the Tigers in her complete-game effort. After knocking LSU out of the tournament via a 7-0 score, Georgia fell to the eventual champions and 3rd-ranked Florida Gators by a 9-5 final margin. Trailing 9-0 heading into the 5th inning of play, it looked as if the Bulldogs were ready to pack their bags and head home in their first mercy rule loss of the year, but the Bulldogs refused to roll over. Georgia mounted an aggressive comeback in the final three innings of the contest with Florida and managed to pull within four runs. But alas, the rally fell just short and the Bulldogs fell to the Gators for the third time in 2013.

Congratulations to Chelsea Wilkinson and Paige Wilson for garnering All SEC Tournament honors and congratulations to the rest of the team on some well-played ball while in Lexington. It brings me a lot of excitement to see that we were able to tack on five runs off of Hannah Rogers in the second half of the SEC Semifinals. We ended the game by playing aggressive softball at the dish and in the field, and this is what leads me to believe that we will carry tons of positive momentum into the NCAA Regional Round that begins on either Thursday or Friday of this week.

Chelsea Wilkinson earned SEC All-Tournament Honors to go along with her All-Freshman Honors from earlier in the week.

Chelsea Wilkinson earned SEC All-Tournament Honors to go along with her All-Freshman Honors from earlier in the week. (Courtesy The Red & Black)

—————————————————————————————————————————-

In Thursday’s match-up with the Bayou Bengals, Georgia jumped on the board in the top of the third inning thanks to a Katie Browne solo home run off the first pitch she saw from Rachele Fico. The Bulldogs would continue to put runs on the scoreboard in the top of the 5th inning thanks to a two-run single through the left side off the bat of Kaylee Puailoa. With the score situated at 3-0, Tess Sito drew a lead-off walk, was sacrificed to second on a perfect bunt from Christine Olney, and eventually came around to score after Niaja Griffin singled and forced an LSU fielding error to make the score 4-0. Georgia continued to pad their lead in the final frame of play by plating three final runs. With the bases loaded, Tina Iosefa was hit by a pitch and another run scored afterwards on a a fielder’s choice off the bat of Tess Sito. Georgia scored their final run of the contest by executing a perfect double steal by Tess Sito and Kaylee “Moose” Puailoa.

Chelsea did not throw a good game, but instead threw an absolutely genius game against the LSU Tigers. In the complete game effort, Wilkinson scattered just five hits and allowed no runs to cross the plate. With the victory, Chelsea Wilkinson picked up her fourth win over a Top 25 program (Texas A&M, Florida, LSU twice…) in the past month! Go Chelsea!

In the Saturday Semifinal match-up against the 3rd-ranked Florida Gators, Geri Ann Glasco got the start in the circle and appeared to be in an early groove before getting tagged for four earned runs off of two Gator home runs. After striking out Kelsey Stewart and popping up Kirsti Merritt, Glasco followed by surrendering two, two-run blasts off the bats of Lauren Haeger and Taylor Schwartz. Morgan Montemayor replaced Glasco in the circle and would end up surrendering five runs, only two of which were earned, in the final 5.1 innings of work. After the Gators padded their lead on the back of another Schwartz home run and RBI hits from Stewart and Tofft, things were not looking too good for our Bulldogs. With the score standing at 9-0 entering the top of the 5th inning of play, it appeared that Georgia was in line to suffer their first mercy rule loss of the season. But alas, the Bulldogs showed the fight that they are well known for and managed to tag Hannah Rogers for five runs late in the contest.

With the bases loaded in the fifth inning, Niaja Griffin grounded out to the left side for an RBI and made the score 9-1 in favor of the Gators. Paige Wilson then followed with a hot-shot double down the right field line to plate a pair of Georgia runs to bring the score to a 9-3 margin. After a quiet sixth inning, Georgia mounted yet another rally in the top of the 7th and final frame of play. After back-to-back singles off the bats of Browne and LaZear got the inning started, Paige Wilson picked up her third and fourth RBIs of the game on a single through the right side to bring the score to a managebale 9-5 tally. The late Bulldog rally fell just short as the final two outs of the contest were recorded and the Gators moved on to face Missouri in the finals.

Paige Wilson finished the SEC Tournament with a .500 average and 4 RBIs en route to All-Tournament Honors.

Paige Wilson finished the SEC Tournament with a .500 average and 4 RBIs en route to All-Tournament Honors. (Courtesy GeorgiaDogs.com, shot by Evan Stichler)

Florida defeated Missouri in the nightcap by a 10-4 final score, which made me feel much better about our performance. It felt good to know that we gave up less runs and also scored more runs against Florida than did the second place Missouri Tigers. With the win against Missouri, the 3rd-ranked Florida Gators won both the Regular Season SEC Title and the SEC Tournament Title. Congratulations to the Gators and a very stellar regular season and here’s hoping that we may get another shot at them in the post season! Stinkin’ Gators! 😉

Georgia will find out their post season fate on Sunday night at 10pm when the NCAA D1 Softball Selection Show will be aired live on ESPNU. Be sure not to miss it! This postseason is sure to be one of the better ones in the last 5-6 years because with the exception of Oklahoma, the field is wide open for anyone to take! I would like to think that with the right draw, our Georgia Bulldogs have a great chance of making it far and doing us fans even more proud than they already have!

As always, Go Dawgs!

#RoadToWCWS          #CommitToTheG          #BombSquadPuppies

Advertisements

Bulldogs Sweep 13th-Ranked Texas A&M

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As always, Go Dawgs!

#CommitToTheG          #BombSquadPuppies          #RoadToWCWS

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

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

Georgia Edged by Upstate, Prepares to Host Texas A&M This Weekend

In what may be one of the more unusual stat sheets of the season, the USC-Upstate Spartans managed to edge the Georgia Bulldogs by a final score of 8-5, despite only registering 4 hits through the entire seven inning contest. Georgia led the game 4-0 after two innings and Chelsea Wilkinson threw 4 innings of perfect ball. Nonetheless, costly errors and a wretched call at second base sealed Georgia’s fate as they were unable to mount a comeback against a very talented and well-coached Spartans team. While the loss was somewhat disheartening, there were a lot of positive things to be taken away from the contest. Chelsea Wilkinson was absolutely wonderful in the circle and is heating up at the perfect time for the Dawgs! Not only this, but the Bulldogs pounded out 11 hits off a very talented Upstate pitching staff, despite scoring only 5 runs in the outing.

No offense to the Spartans, but if Georgia is going to be more competitive and go far in the post season, we are going to have to fight in the face of adversity and beat any mid-major programs that we face, Upstate being no exception. The girls tried to rally in both the sixth and seventh innings, but alas could not get timely hitting from the power hitters to score the slappers that had reached base. The good thing that can be drawn from this outing is that both Niaja Griffin and Sam LaZear are on fire at the plate and are finding consistent ways to get on base for our big hitters. This loss to Upstate means nothing in the long run, as the girls should be focused on beating the teams we need to beat in conference. The best teams in the country have very short memories and learn to use the painful losses as game fuel to power their aggression. Here’s hoping for a great weekend against some very stiff competition in the form of the Texas A&M Aggies!

Sophomore slap-hitter Niaja Griffin went 3-4 on Wednesday against USC Upstate.

Sophomore slap-hitter Niaja Griffin went 3-4 on Wednesday against USC Upstate. (Courtesy GeorgiaDogs.com, shot by Evan Stichler)

——————————————————————————————————————————————————-

On Friday, Georgia welcomes the 11th-ranked Texas A&M Aggies to Jack Turner Stadium for the first game of what should prove to be a very exciting three-game SEC series. Not only is Texas A&M having a great year thus far, but it is noteworthy that 2013 marks the Aggies first year as members of the Southeastern Conference. I can think of no better way to welcome the Aggies to the SEC than with a Bulldog series win! 😀

Texas A&M enters Athens with an impressive 35-9 record, despite sporting a 6-8 conference record. If that does not attest to just how tough of a conference the SEC is, then I do not know what does. In their most recent SEC outing, the Aggies dropped two out of their three games against the LSU Tigers in College Park. TAMU has beaten their fair share of ranked foes this year…Alabama, Missouri, UCLA, Louisiana-Lafayette, and LSU to name just a few. The Aggies are one of the more powerful hitting teams in the SEC and can hit the long ball at just about any pitstop in the batting order. The Aggies have hit a whopping 76 bombs on the year, just three less than our nation-leading Bulldogs. No doubt about it, pitching is going to have to step up big time against this feared Aggies line-up in order to stand a chance against some of their offensive talent, but with the way Chelsea Wilkinson has been throwing, I would look to her to get one or two starts this weekend.

The Aggies are led at the plate by sophomore slugger, Nicole Morgan. Morgan is batting a .372 clip with 14 home runs and 48 RBI, while stellar rookie Cali Lanphear is batting .359 with 15 home runs and 43 runs driven in. These two young ladies supply a large portion of the power on this Aggies squad, although TAMU has three other batters who have all belted ten home runs on the season (May, Dumezich, and Tycarczyk). The scary thing about this batting order is that they can take you deep at any stop along the way 1-9, and they also have speedy lefties placed in the order also. No doubt about it, this team knows how to score runs against any pitching they see, hence why we are really going to have to buckle down on defense and make it easier on our pitchers than we have been as of late. LSU was able to dominate the TAMU hitters for the most part, and I think if we can come out firing on all cylinders in this series that we have a good chance of scoring more runs than the Aggies in at least two of the contests.

It would be extremely naive to think that the Aggies have defeated the top-notch teams that they have on the back of a solid offense alone. This is certainly not the case in 2013. Mel Dumezich has proved to be the workhorse so far this year, as she has pitched 174 out of the 275 innings this season for the Aggies. Dumezich has amassed a 2.13 ERA to go along with a 23-6 record and has fanned 188 batters in 174 innings pitched. There is no denying that the TAMU squad relies heavily on good pitching performances from Dumezich, although they have often went to their #2 pitcher, Lauren Ainsley (11-3, 2.21 ERA), when needed. After watching Dumezich perform against LSU and against Tennessee, she has shown that while she is very talented, she can get rattled at times and give up the dreaded long ball. It helps that we tend to hit fast pitching well, and that we tend to hit a lot of long balls as well. If our slappers can stay hot and keep getting on base in front of our power hitters, expect the Dawgs to score their fair share of runs.

Texas A&M star pitcher, Mel Dumezich, in action during a 2013 game. (Courtesy ESPN.com)

Texas A&M is chock-full of talent in every position on the field, as well as in every spot in the batting order. Georgia is going to have to play the best they have the entire season and for a full seven innings in each contest. We have been a little inconsistent at times, but I know without a doubt that we can take 2/3 teams from these TAMU Aggies. What should help fuel the girls at this time of the year is the fact that there are so many people out there who are doubting what they can do. Outside noise, heartbreaking losses, and an aggressive attitude are surely serving as fuel to push this team to want to come out and dominate the Aggies. The fun thing is that this team has not yet fully reached its true potential, although the home stretch of the season is now and the finish line is barely in our sights. I have complete confidence and faith that this team is going to come out this weekend and play their hearts out for every out on the field. The key to winning is playing good ole’ fashioned Georgia Softball and making it a nightmare for the opponent to have to come in to Athens and play us.

When all is said and done, only one team will win the last game of the season, and the possibilities are endless as there is a lot of great talent playing between the chalk lines here in 2013. But, my point is that every team has their shot and their set of chances, and now is our time to grasp the opportunities and push hard to win! The goal is to win the last game of the season while picking up some very good, competitive wins along the way. I have said it once, and I will say it again: there is nothing scarier than a group of stud softballers that have all the confidence in the world. I believe in this team and know that great things are headed their way, although they are going to have to push themselves and play inspiring ball for a full 21 innings this weekend. I believe!!!

As always, Go Dawgs!!!

#BeatTAMU          #CommitToTheG          #SicEm

Glasco Nabs USA Softball National Player of the Week

I would like to preface this story by saying how awesome of a feat this is to accomplish. Not only has Geri Ann been awarded the SEC Freshman of the Week award on three separate occassion, but this is her third National Player of the Week honor after garnering NFCA POW and College Sports Madness POW honors earlier in the year. Geri Ann is the first rookie who has earned the USA Softball National POW award this year and is really blazing the trail as a Bulldog rookie! We are going to be seeing big things from Geri Ann for a few more years, but here’s hoping to a strong finish to 2013. Go, Geri!!! Go Dawgs!!!

—————————————————————————————

(Story Courtesy USA SOFTBALL)

OKLAHOMA CITY —  Geri Ann Glasco (Watkinsville, Ga.) has been named the USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Week for April 8-14, the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America and USA Softball announced today. The Georgia freshman led her team from the plate with a .412 average over five games last week and belted four homeruns in the process. Each of her homers were either go-ahead homeruns or game-winners. Glasco helped Georgia to a 4-1 record on the week.

“I am fortunate to be a player on a team with awesome teammates that motivate and build each other daily in practice,” said Glasco. “While being recognized by such a great organization is so exciting and appreciated, victory on the field with my team is the ultimate goal and I am thrilled to have had a part in helping my team pick up some wins.”
Glasco began the week going three-for-six with three RBI and a run scored against Western Carolina to help Georgia to 12-0 and 9-0 wins. In their weekend series with South Carolina, the Georgia native put on a hitting clinic from the batter’s box. On Saturday, Glasco hit three, two-run homeruns and the Bulldogs needed every one of them as they escaped with a 7-6 win. On Sunday, in the final game of the series, the freshman came up big again when she hit her fourth two-run homer of the weekend. The two runs would be the only scored on the day as Georgia defeated South Carolina 2-0 to take the series.
“We have an amazing group of superbly talented student-athletes that compete every single day in practice to make themselves and the team better on game days,” said Georgia Head Coach Lu Harris-Champer. “This past weekend Geri Ann produced in key situations over and over and showed what being a Bulldog is all about. She is a gifted and truly clutch hitter as well as being an extremely hard worker and a fierce competitor that exemplifies the type of players we have at Georgia.”
This is the first USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Week honor for the freshman and the first Player of the Week honors for Georgia since Brianna Hesson won the award in week seven of the 2011 season.
Geri Ann Glasco prepares to swing in a game against Campbell earlier this season.

Geri Ann Glasco prepares to swing in a game against Campbell earlier this season. (Courtesy GeorgiaDogs.com, shot by Evan Stichler)

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

 

Tennessee Lady Volunteers Visit Athens This Weekend:

Georgia faces one of the toughest opponents of the season this weekend as the Bulldogs welcome the Tennessee Lady Volunteers to Jack Turner Stadium. In 2012, these two clubs faced an unimaginable five times with Georgia winning two of the five contests. Besides the regular season double-header, the two clubs faced each other three more times in the NCAA Knoxville Super Regional. Georgia won the first regular season meeting between the two in 2012 by a 3-1 margin in 11 innings before falling 2-1 in the second game. In the Knoxville Super Regional, Georgia lost the first contest 3-2, won the second by a narrow 1-0 score, and then dropped the final game 2-1–in turn allowing Tennessee to advance to the 2012 Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City. All of the meetings in 2012 between the two teams were very close contests because each side featured some outstanding pitching. Erin Arevalo threw some brilliant games against the Vols last season, and our pitchers this year are hoping to find similar success by mixing up spin and speeds!

Tennessee and Georgia are both currently tied for third place in the SEC East with identical 6-3 SEC records, behind only Florida (10-2 SEC) and Missouri (7-1 SEC). I really think the fact that this series is in Athens will really benefit our Dawgs, especially if the crowd this weekend is anything close to what it was like at the stormy, midweek rivalry game against Georgia Tech. We really need to take at least two of the three games in this series to prevent from dropping any further in the SEC. Florida takes on Mississippi State this weekend, while Mizzou takes on the Crimson Tide of Alabama.

Attention UGA fans: we need to be rooting for the other Bulldogs and the Tide in this case! 😀

In the all-time series between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Tennessee Lady Vols, Tennessee leads by an extremely narrow 31-29 mark. Tennessee also leads the series in Athens by an even narrower 13-12 margin. Without a doubt, this series will be a trio of really exciting, competitive match-ups and I think our bats have the potential to spoil the Vols trip to Athens! We lead Tennessee in every offensive category with the exception to stolen bases and stolen base attempts, although Tennessee’s pitching staff has about a 1.00 run smaller earned run average than we do at this time. This should come as no surprise as Tennessee is known more for their strong pitching and offensive speed rather than their power at the plate. This has the potential to be one of the best conference series of the year and I hope our young Bulldogs can arise to the challenge and take it to the Vols with a lot of confidence!

As of late, sophomore OF Niaja Griffin has displayed some impressive slap hitting to go along with absolutely brilliant outfield work.

As of late, sophomore OF Niaja Griffin has displayed some impressive slap hitting to go along with absolutely brilliant outfield work. (Courtesy GeorgiaDogs.com, shot by Evan Stichler).

At the plate, Tennessee has two day-to-day hitters batting over the .400 mark in Seniors Raven Chavanne and Lauren Gibson. Chavanne has amassed an eye-popping .443 average and has also hit three home runs–all while driving in 17 runs from the leadoff position AND all while only striking out five times this season. Raven is one of the biggest leaders on this experienced Lady Vols squad and part of Georgia’s keys to success will be finding a definitive way of keeping Raven off of the bases. She is such a tricky offensive player to defend because of her offensive versatility, although past Georgia teams have often had success in getting Raven to ground out to a pulled-in infield. Lauren Gibson is batting an equally impressive .422 average with 7 HR and 30 RBI, all while slugging a powerful .706 mark. Tennessee possesses a lot of speed and line drive power from 1-9 in their line-up, and despite their low home run totals, the Lady Vols have struck for power against some of the top pitchers in the country when the situation has called for it. Good defense, smart pitch calling, and keeping the ball low in the zone are going to be the main keys to finding success against a very potent Tennessee line-up.

Although Tennessee comes equipped with an offense that many coaches would love to have, the Lady Vols pride themselves on how dominant they are in the circle. The Renfroe Sisters, Ellen and Ivy, may be one of the most notable duo of softball pitchers in the entire country besides Jackie Traina and Keilani Ricketts. With an impressive 13-3 record, Ivy Renfroe leads this year’s Tennessee pitching staff with a 1.45 ERA, 86.2 innings pitched, and 92 strikeouts. Although her pitching statistics are pretty impressive all around, perhaps the key figure I noticed was that Ivy Renfroe has only given up two home runs in 86.2 innings pitched this season. This figure intrigues me since our Dawgs are the #1 home-run hitting team in the country to date. I hope we can inflate those numbers just a little bit, although it is going to require a lot of patience at the plate! Ivy Renfroe is complimented extremely well by younger sister Ellen Renfroe: Ellen has tallied a 1.50 earned run average to go along with a 9-1 record, all while fanning 108 batters in 93.1 innings pitched. Last year in Knoxville, Ellen was throwing a no-no with two outs in the top of the 7th inning when Senior Kristyn Sandberg drove a pitch high and deep over the left field wall to break up the bid. Georgia would go on to win this contest in 11 innings, despite dropping the second game of the double dip. If Ivy and Ellen get worn down early, it would not be surprising to see the two youngsters, Cheyanne Tarango (4-1, 1.67 ERA) or Erin Gabriel (5-1, 2.66 ERA), get thrown into the mix.

Ellen Renfroe and Ivy Renfroe are two the more recognized pitchers in the Southeastern Conference. (Courtesy ESPN.com)

Tennessee is not only ranked as the 5th/6th team in the nation, but has amassed such a high ranking against some of the most potent competition in the country in 2013. Tennessee is coming fresh off a three-game sweep of the Texas A&M Aggies and four victories over Kentucky, Eastern Kentucky, Tennessee State, and Western Carolina.

I am extremely eager to see how our Bulldogs will do against Tennessee this weekend in the friendly confines of Jack Turner Stadium. At this point, the Arkansas series seems like a million miles away and I think the girls have regrouped their focus on playing some absolutely killer games against the Lady Vols this weekend. It is still such a great time to be a Georgia Bulldog! Keep on fighting, girls!

Everyone, try to make it out this weekend to Jack Turner Stadium in Athens to see a great SEC series! Admission, as always, is free and the promotions staff has started doing some really neat stuff for fans who come out and show their support. Parking is free, win tee shirts, enter dance contests, moon walks and basketball for younger fans, free UGA softball posters/pom poms/schedules–all to compliment a wonderful afternoon of softball!

Dont forget to catch the Bulldogs on their first LIVE national television appearance on Sunday as the ladies from Athens will be broadcasted on Fox SportSouth!

As always, Go Dawgs!

#BulldogsEatCreamsicles     #LickEmDawgs          #BeatTennessee               #CommitToTheG

 

Schedule

Friday, April 5
• Georgia vs. No. 6/5 Tennessee – 6 p.m.

Saturday, April 6
• Georgia vs. No. 6/5 Tennessee – 4 p.m.

Sunday, April 7
• Georgia vs. No. 6/5 Tennessee – 1:07 p.m.

Other Information
• Live stats will be available at http://www.georgiadogs.com
• Live audio will be available online through GTV and locally on Fox News 1340 WGAU
• Live video will be available online for free through GTV (Friday and Saturday only)
• Sunday’s game will be televised on Fox SportSouth

 

Kaylee "Moose" Puailoa rounds the bases after blasting her first career grand slam against Georgia Tech on Wednesday.

Kaylee “Moose” Puailoa rounds the bases after blasting her first career grand slam against Georgia Tech on Wednesday. (Courtesy GeorgiaDogs.com, shot by Evan Stichler)

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)