Game Notes (PDF)
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – A crucial Southeastern Conference Eastern Division showdown awaits No. 12 Tennessee (33-7, 7-6 SEC) this weekend at the Lee Softball Stadium as the Lady Vols prepare to host 14th-ranked Georgia (35-8, 8-3 SEC) for a three-game series over April 5-6. The two squads will contest a doubleheader on Saturday beginning at 1 p.m., with the series finale slated for Sunday at 1 p.m.
Prior to starting play against UGA, the Tennessee program will celebrate the careers of senior pitcher Megan Rhodes on Saturday and senior infielder Caitlin Ryan on Sunday. The remaining three seniors, Tonya Callahan, Shannon Doepking and Kenora Posey will each be honored with their own “Senior Day” festivities slated for the upcoming LSU and Florida series. The 2008 Lady Vol senior class has guided UT to a 224-42 overall record, three consecutive berths in the Women’s College World Series, a SEC Tournament championship (2006) and a SEC regular-season title (2007).
The Big Orange trail the Bulldogs 23-17 in the overall series but have taken control lately by winning four of the last five contests, including a three-game sweep in Athens, Ga., by 10-0 (5 inn.), 3-1 and 5-1 scores during the 2007 campaign. Surprisingly, UGA holds an 11-6 edge against the Lady Vols in Knoxville with this visit the first for the ‘Dogs to UT’s home confines since 2005.
In Wednesday’s home doubleheader Tennessee defeated ETSU 4-3 and 7-0 to move to 87-3 all-time versus in-state teams. Co-head coaches Ralph and Karen Weekly also improved their UT coaching record against in-state squads to a perfect 51-0 since arriving at Rocky Top prior to the 2002 campaign.
Freshman pitcher Ashton Ward ended up the victor in both match-ups against the Lady Bucs. The Charlotte, N.C., native fired one inning of relief in the opener before dominating ETSU with a one-hit shutout and a career-high 11 strikeouts in the finale. The 6-0 right hander improved her season record to an impressive 19-3 overall and lowered her ERA to a squad-best 1.59, ninth in the league.
By going 4-for-8 over the doubleheader with a double, triple and four RBIs, senior third baseman Tonya Callahan continued her sterling production at the plate while equaling her season-best hitting streak at 10 games. During her current skein, the Holden, Mo., product is hitting a staggering .516 (16-of-31) with three doubles, a triple, three home runs, 12 RBI, a .968 slugging percentage and a .605 on-base percentage. Freshman Jen Lapicki (3-for-5 in the DH) and junior Danielle Pieroni each knocked in a pair of runs via doubles. Rookie Kelly Grieve swiped a career-high three bases in the DH finale, while going a combined 3-for-7 versus the Lady Bucs.
The Georgia Bulldogs enter this weekend’s series as perhaps the hottest team in the SEC. Since suffering a series sweep at LSU over March 8-9, UGA has won 16 consecutive match-ups. The skein includes a trio of league wins against Arkansas and South Carolina and a mid-week doubleheader sweep of Ole Miss. The Bulldogs currently rate fifth in the conference in team batting average counting all games (.282) and including only SEC contests (.258), while the pitching staff ranks eighth overall in ERA. The major factor behind the recent win streak has been consistency from the circle as Georgia maintains a 1.87 ERA in league play to rate third in the SEC. Overall two UGA pitchers rate in the league’s top 10 in ERA.
Freshman hurler Sarah McCloud has opened her career in the Red & Black with her sights set on serving as the ace of the staff, tallying a 13-2 record with a 1.68 ERA over a team-high 117 innings of work. Since entering league action, the Celina, Texas, native has been lights out, currently rating second in the SEC in ERA at 0.99 and tying for second in league victories with six. Sophomore Kate Gaskill has been equally effective by posting a miniscule 0.90 ERA (No. 2 in the SEC), a 14-3 record and 140 strikeouts in just 93 innings. Juniors Christie Hamilton (6-2, 3.68 ERA, 59 inn.) and Norie Glazebrook (2-1, 2.68 ERA, 18.2 inn.) have been called on the most for support.
Currently leading the Georgia offensive attack is senior Sojourner Moody. The product of Lithonia, Ga., possesses a team-high .353 mark for the season and a league-best .500 average counting just SEC match-ups. Moody has scored 36 runs and tallied 11 of UGA’s 52 total stolen bases. Senior Melissa Wood (.280) has provided the power by blasting a squad-best eight home runs and 34 RBIs. Freshmen have been making a huge impact offensively for the ‘Dogs during the ‘08 campaign. Alisa Goler has contributed a .303 average and 30 RBIs, Taylor Schlopy a .322 mark, 21 RBIs and 17 stolen bases and Megan Wiggins a .303 average with 27 RBIs. Junior Kristin Schnake enters this weekend at .316 with three doubles, three triples and 13 RBI.
The Bulldogs can also get the job done with the glove as witnessed by a SEC-best .981 fielding percentage as the ‘Dogs have committed just 23 total miscues.
Live stats will be available through utladyvols.com, while periodic updates will be recorded on the Lady Vol Hotline (865-974-8700, box #6).