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Beyond the Hedges: 2/17/2013

On Atlanta's coldest day of the year so far, my first thought at the close of this weekend, brutal in many ways, was to describe our brumal discontent with a post thematically built around a topical reference to the recently disinterred and self-styled (per Shakespeare), sun of York. But by the time I sat down to write, a certain bard of Georgia took over with a healthier attitude.

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ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVE ~ Johnny Mercer & The Pied Pipers .wmv (via MrRJDB1969)

It doesn't get much more positive than a complete tournament sweep. In their first team tournament of 2013, the women's golf team shone in the Sunshine State. Georgia led after Friday's first round, one stroke ahead of second-place Tennessee, with UGA sophomore Rocio Sanchez Lobato leading the individual standings with a six-under 66. Ro held onto the top of the inividual leaderboard Saturday, but Georgia fell back to sixth behind Oklahoma and host FSU. In today's final round, the Bulldogs took the lead back with their one-under team performance and swept the awards: team, individual, and match-up (with Oklahoma). The team is off until 8-10 March when the ladies will be at Hilton Head's Long Cove Club for the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate. You know, Ro and me, we come from different worlds. She likes to laugh at me when I look at different girls ... Wait. What?

Just getting under way today in men's golf was the Puerto Rico Classic. After one round, Georgia stands in sixth place with 2 over par, 11 strokes behind leader Bama. Play continues tomorrow and Tuesday.

AAAGH! Someone get this beam out of my eye! Our beloved and, of late, beleaguered gymnastics program suffered a setback in Athens Saturday when the visiting Gators were victors by a score of 197.300-196.175. But in his excellent, if painfully produced, recap, vineyarddawg reminds us we have reasons not to give up on our legendary program and even this season.

But UGA versus UF news isn't all bad. In club sports news, Kyle already advised us of the men's lacrosse team's 13-6 win over their Florida counterparts in Gainesville (as well as the women's lacrosse team's weekend wins over clubs from Texas, UCLA, Michigan, and UVA). Today, the Georgia women's basketball team was in Gainesville to go for the season sweep of the Gators, having defeated them 69-52 in Athens last month. The Lady Bulldogs fell behind in front of a raucous O'Connell Center crowd, with the Gators holding a 24-12 edge midway through the first half. But Coach Andy Landers made some adjustments, and the Georgia held the Gators without a field goal for more than eight minutes and took the lead with less than three seconds left in the half. UGA held the lead for most of the second half but couldn't quite pull away until the final minute when, down a couple of possessions, Florida scores and fouls pushed the final tallies to 62-57. Georgia holds the series advantage 48-14, but the last four years have been split with the home team winning. It was good to take one from the Gators in Gainesville.

At last, it's baseball season. The Diamond Dogs were in Statesboro this weekend for a series with Georgia Southern. Georgia escaped with a 6-5 win Friday in a game that the Official Site described as "thrilling" but that I saw more as "terrifying" (and, apparently, rightly so). UGA went on to lose the remaining two games: 3-2 Saturday and 11-2 this afternoon. After today's trouncing, Coach Perno said he was "a little disappointed offensively", which observation I find offensively disappointing. As we have in the past, Dawg Sports will be giving more attention to baseball than this mere mention, but I'm just going to throw this series to the floor: feel free to step up in the comments and give us a breakdown of what went wrong and what's fixable or, if you prefer, try to walk around it without getting any of it on your shoes.

The action on the softball diamond was a different story as UGA hosted the 10th Annual Georgia Softball Classic. Friday afternoon, Georgia took care of an overmatched Campbell squad, scoring 11 runs on 15 hits in four innings. Leading the offensive charge were freshman 1B Kaylee Puailoa (three for three, batting four runners in) and sophomore SS Paige Wilson (four for four, three RBIs). Freshman pitcher Geri Ann Glasco got the win for Georgia, giving up only two hits and a walk while striking out six. Friday evening against Northwestern, a scoreless game became a 1-0 UGA lead in the bottom of the third, but the Wildcats scored five runs in the top of the fourth to take a substantial lead. The Dawgs got one back in the bottom of the fourth before exploding in the sixth for four more scores and the 6-5 final margin. Junior pitcher Morgan Montemayor, who ceded the circle to Glasco after two of Northwestern's runs, returned for the final two innings to get the win. Saturday, Georgia got its second five-inning win of the weekend when the Bulldogs defeated MTSU 13-1. Finally, on Sunday, Georgia again took to the diamond against Northwestern, falling behind early before battling back to a 5-5 tie. The visitors' travel plans back to Evanston forced the game to stop before the requisite five innings were completed to have an official game. The team next travels to Palm Springs, California, for the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic, opening on Thursday with games against Colorado State and Oklahoma.

Yes, the men's basketball team lost in Oxford last night, but the hardwood wasn't the only court where UGA and Ole Miss faced each other this weekend. The men's tennis team was in Seattle for the ITA National Men's Team Indoor Championship, but without our No. 1 singles player, senior KU Singh. All we know about Singh's not making the trip is that it was a coaches' decision. Sixth-ranked and sixth-seeded Georgia started well Friday with a 4-0 win over 12-seed, No. 12 Ole Miss. After taking a 1-0 lead after doubles, Georgia's pit took care of business with singles wins at courts 6, 5, and 4, while the matches at the top of the lineup went unfinished: junior Garrett Brasseaux won 6-4, 6-2; freshman Austin Smith won 6-1, 3-6, 6-1; and freshman Nick Wood won 6-4, 5-7, 6-3. In the quarterfinals Saturday, Georgia's lineup had to be shuffled again when Wood was unable to play due to illness, and the Dawgs were eliminated from the championship by No. 3 UCLA, 4-1. UGA was up 1-0 after handing the Bruins their first doubles loss of the season, but weren't able to take any singles matches. In today's consolation match, Kentucky squeaked by Georgia 4-2. Again, the Dawgs took the doubles point and split the first singles sets down the lineup 3-3. Junior Hernus Pieters, who defeated Kentucky's Alejandro Gomez in last season's regular-season loss to Kentucky, again defeated Gomez in straight sets to give Georgia a 2-0 lead. But Kentucky took the next four singles matches, all very hard fought, to take the team victory. Georgia returns to Athens and will play Furman next Sunday at 1 p.m., and ETSU on Monday at 2:30 p.m.

The lineup already required some attention, given the extreme youth of this team, and Singh's absence made it even harder. The win over Ole Miss is a big one, though, especially since the Rebears were the coaches' preseason pick to win the conference. And when Coach Diaz says, "This group will be a great team down the road," you can believe him.

Finally, the men's and women's swimming and diving teams have been preparing for the SEC Championships, to be held in College Station, Texas, Tuesday through Saturday. We'll be keeping an eye on the action.