11th-hour Update: UGA Softball Hosting Athens Regional

Congratulations to the departing senior class of damn good Dawgs. - Photo credit to Emily Selby

Here we are at another fanpost I meant to write about a week ago: after an up-and-down regular season and an SEC tournament flame-out, UGA Softball begins NCAA tournament play this afternoon (weather permitting) in Athens. The Dawgs are scheduled to take on Maine at 3:30 PM, after the regional-opening game between Northwestern and Oklahoma State.

This has been a somewhat frustrating season for the Lady Diamond Dawgs--despite having one of the most powerful offenses in the nation, Georgia struggled to .500 in conference play, dropping series to South Carolina, LSU, Tennessee, Auburn, and Alabama. The Dawgs showed flashes of dominance in sweeps over Texas A&M and Mizzou, but couldn't seem to string together consecutive weekends of winning play. The "consecutive weekends" bit becomes particularly relevant looking at the road ahead:

UGA's selection as a regional host raised a few eyebrows (and probably some ire in Waco), especially since they've been given what looks like a fairly favorable regional for advancement. Of course, advancement is never guaranteed--UGA barely pulled out a win over Northwestern early in the season, and a much-improved OK State team could give us trouble. Each of the last two years, we've dropped our second game in regional play and come back through the loser's bracket to advance. This year, I'd love to see us move through regional play a little more efficiently.

If we do advance, we'll likely travel to Gainesville for a super regional matchup with #1 overall seed (I hate) Florida. This is where that whole "consecutive weekends" bit comes in: Florida has been the most dominant team in the sport all season by a long shot. We didn't see the Gators in conference play this year, but both teams are stocked with enough veteran talent to comfortably say that we're pretty familiar with one another. Unfortunately, the last time we saw Florida was for a 2-game sweep in Athens in 2015 (did I mention that I hate Florida?). The Dawgs will have to be at the top of their game to have a shot in this one.

Overall, our position at this point in the postseason reminds me of VineyardDawg's take on the Gym Dogs' postseason chances: technically, we still have a shot at the Women's College World Series in OKC. However, it's going to take a level of sustained excellence that we haven't seen yet this season to get there. I still think we've got the talent to do it--we've got 1 and 2 hitters batting over .400, senior leaders like Wilkinson and Hugo doing their things, and a handful of other seniors (Katie Browne, Tina Iosefa, Samantha LaZear) having career years in their last go-rounds. In addition, we've got a couple of freshmen who have really come on strong manning the left side of the infield in Lacey Sumerlin and 1st team All-SEC selection Alyssa DiCarlo. We'll see if we can keep things clicking in the circle, the field, and the batter's box for two or three weeks in a row.

Here's hoping we've saved our best for last...Go Dawgs!

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