After opening the season with a 4-0 mark, the No. 10 Georgia softball team hits the road to take on the field at the Disney Citrus Classic in Orlando, Fla., beginning Friday, Feb. 19 at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports.
The Bulldogs open the tournament against Omaha at 11 a.m. ET on Friday with the game set for viewing on ESPN3. Georgia follows that with a contest versus Stetson set for 1:15 p.m. ET. Saturday will feature a doubleheader against Stephen F. Austin and Jacksonville State beginnings at 3:30 p.m. ET while the weekend concludes on Sunday versus UAB at 12:15 p.m. ET. Live stat links can be found at georgiadogs.com.
– GAME NOTES –
LAST TIME OUT: RED AND BLACK SHOWCASE
For the third-straight year, Georgia opened its season with an unblemished mark, going 4-0 at the Ninth Annual Red and Black Showcase with two wins over Winthrop and Elon. The Bulldogs outhit their opponents 44-8 while outscoring them 48-5. At the plate, four Bulldogs collected six hits each in Sydni Emanuel, Alyssa DiCarlo, Maeve McGuire and Kaylee Puailoa while Chelsea Wilkinson and Brittany Gray did most of the work in the circle, as the duo gave up seven hits and two earned runs with 26 strikeouts.
LAST TIME OUT: OMAHA/UAB
Omaha and UAB are recent opponents for the Bulldogs. Georgia faced Omaha last season at the Disney Citrus Classic, winning 8-0 in five innings behind a seven-strikeout perfect game from Wilkinson. It was the first of Wilkinson’s career and eighth in Georgia history. On offense, the Bulldogs totaled 12 hits, led by Samantha LaZear’s 3-for-3 effort and Tina Iosefa’s two hits. LaZear and Alex Hugo each posted a pair of runs as well.
Georgia faced UAB three times in 2014, going 2-1, with a majority of this season’s team as freshmen and sophomores. LaZear put up a .375 average against the Blazers while Puailoa and Hugo totaled three hits each. Wilkinson had 25 strikeouts in 14 innings pitched after her two appearances in the circle. The last game against UAB was in the NCAA Athens Regional where Wilkinson pitched a 14-strikeout, three-hit shutout.
LAST TIME OUT: 2015 DISNEY CITRUS CLASSIC
At last year’s Disney Citrus Classic, Georgia finished with a 5-0 record, outscoring opponents 36-2. The Bulldogs totaled 51 hits on the weekend, led by Cortni Emanuel’s eight, as she hit .421 with five runs and four stolen bases. Hugo and S. Emanuel had five hits each with Hugo leading the team in extra-base hits with three doubles and a home run. Wilkinson and Gray combined for a 0.45 ERA, striking out 36 batters in the process and holding teams to a .147 batting average.
GRAY POSTS NO-HITTER/SHUTOUT VS. WINTHROP
Gray notched the second complete-game no-hitter of her career followed by a shutout in her first two appearances of 2016. With both coming against Winthrop, Gray tossed an 11-strikeout, five-inning no-hitter on Friday, as her strikeout total knocked off her personal best of nine strikeouts last season. She then turned around to hold the Eagles hitless through four innings before allowing just two hits in a five-inning shutout on Sunday. Gray completed nine strikeouts in the Valentine’s Day contest.
HUGO TABS GRAND SLAM AS 2016 FIRST HIT
One of the nation’s leading home run hitters the past two seasons, walking Hugo is an opponent’s main strategy. The Kansas native showed why on Saturday, as a grand slam became her first official hit of the season against Winthrop. Hugo walked six times in the four games of opening weekend, including her first four at-bats. In the fifth at-bat, she sent a 2-0 count just fair over the left field wall. It was the third grand slam for the second baseman since Hugo arrived in Athens in 2014. She hit one in 2015 against Georgia Tech and one in 2014 against Mississippi State.
PUAILOA MAKES IMPACT AT PLATE
Puailoa started her final season off with a bang, becoming one of the team leaders offensively last weekend. Along with tying for the team high in hits with six, Puailoa added a team-best nine RBI, thanks in part to three doubles and two home runs.
FRESHMEN STEP UP IN OPENING WEEKEND
Three of Georgia’s four true freshmen saw time on the field this past weekend and stepping up in big ways. DiCarlo started every game at third base while hitting .600 at the plate with six hits, three doubles and seven RBI. Lacey Sumerlin played shortstop in the two games against Elon, blasting a solo home run in game two. Kylie Bass closed out both games against the Phoenix, allowing one hit and a walk while striking out one in two innings of work.
BULLODGS UP TWO SPOTS IN NATIONAL POLLS
The undefeated weekend helped the Bulldogs move up two spots in the top-25 polls, as Georgia is now No. 10 in the USA Today/NFCA poll and No. 12 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball list. Being a top-10 team is nothing new for Georgia, as last season the Bulldogs were in the top 10 for eight-straight weeks in the NFCA Top 25.
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