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Georgia Bulldogs Softball Super Regional Preview

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While the Diamond Dogs’ last-place finish kept them out of the mix in the SEC baseball tournament, the Georgia softball team has advanced to the second round of the NCAA tourney. Because many of you expressed an interest in seeing increased coverage of women’s softball, and because this particular bunch of Bulldogs effectively amounts to the last men women standing, you may consider this your 2010 super regional preview.

First, a little context is in order. Thirteen of the sixteen national seeds advanced past the regional round, and the bulk of those came from the two conferences represented in the Athens super regional: the Pac-10 and the SEC. Both leagues placed seven squads and five national seeds in the tournament field.

Six of the seven Pac-10 entrants advanced, with third seed Washington, fifth seed UCLA, tenth seed Arizona, eleventh seed Cal, thirteenth seed Arizona State, and Oregon moving on and Stanford being eliminated. Four of the seven SEC participants survived with first seed Alabama, fourth seed Florida, sixth seed Georgia, and fifteenth seed Tennessee progressing and twelfth seed LSU, Auburn, and Kentucky coming up short in regional action. The other six super regional spots went to a pair of Big 12 clubs and outfits from the Big Ten, Mountain West, Sun Belt, and WAC.

The Bears boast an overall record of 44-17 yet finished 10-11 in league play to tie for fourth place in the conference. Cal has played two games against SEC competition this season, beating Kentucky both times. Through May 17, the Berkeley softballers stood at seventh in batting average among the eight Pac-10 schools that field teams in the sport. The Bears are hitting .285 as a team, but their pitching staff stands atop the conference in ERA (1.63) and in strikeouts (447).

The Bulldogs, by contrast, had (through May 24) compiled a cumulative earned run average of 2.75, good only for sixth in the league. At the plate, however, Georgia ranks third in the SEC in batting average (.325), third in runs (389), third in home runs (92), second in hits (480), and first in doubles (99).

Will the good pitching of California’s Valerie Arioto (21-8, 1.26) and Jolene Henderson (20-9, 1.53) beat the good hitting of Georgia’s Taylor Schlopy (.452, 11 HR, 33 RBI) and Megan Wiggins (.408, 14 HR, 48 RIWWB)? Bears fans sure hope so, but we shall see this weekend, when the Bulldogs look to improve on their all-time 32-16 NCAA postseason ledger in a best-of-three series beginning on Friday afternoon.

Go ‘Dawgs!