The dress rehearsals are just about wrapped up for the eighth-ranked Georgia baseball program.
After a few weekends of lukewarm tests with some mid-week tilts tossed in, the time of year when it will matter most, for now, is almost here.
Play in the nation’s toughest baseball conference is on the docket this weekend with a trip to Columbia to face No. 22 South Carolina in a series featuring a pair of top-25 teams. Next weekend, after the second of two games against Georgia State sandwiched around the USC series, the conference opener for the Dawgs is at Foley Field with LSU coming to town.
Wednesday’s trip to GSU, starting a four-game road swing, should be a good warmup for the Bulldogs after rolling over an overmatched Presbyterian team last weekend. With the in-state matchup, Georgia goes against a motivated roster on the other side of the field in the Panthers.
This Georgia team came into the season with expectations after last year’s national seed. With the arrival of conference play, the chance arrives to prove the worth of said expectations.
Georgia will need its strong pitching to continue to be strong this weekend. So far, its starters are 12-1 on the year with a 1.94 ERA. The gameplan of the starting pitchers getting the game to the hands of the bullpen has worked well so far - especially with Emerson Hancock and Tony Locey putting up strong performances.
At the plate, Georgia’s hitting .308 as a team to rank it second as of now among SEC teams. With the schedule shifting to SEC opponents, this weekend will begin to show how good the Bulldogs are with that bat.
Few have been as good with the bat as of late as Tucker Maxwell, the reigning Collegiate Baseball National Player of the Week, Perfect Game/Rawlings College Player of the Week and SEC Player of the Week. Last week in five games he put up torrid numbers, hitting .563 with two doubles, three home runs, 15 RBI and eight stolen bases. Twice this year, he has tied a school record with four stolen bases in a single game.
LJ Talley also continues to swing a hot bat. Hitting .446, he is on a nine-game hitting streak.
Talley and Maxwell’s hot hitting will need to continue given this week’s bad injury news of left fielder Tucker Bradley being out for the rest of the season with season-ending shoulder surgery. Georgia continues to look for options to replace the career .303 hitter, the leader of late being Randon Jernigan, hitting .417 in his last five games.