WORCESTER, Mass. — Kirby Smart continues his spring speaking tour as he’ll join basketball coach Mark Fox and other UGA dignitaries in Savannah on Monday evening for the UGA Day alumni association event. DawgNation’s Seth Emerson will be there talk to Smart and find out what he will share with alumni in Georgia’s port city.
Meanwhile, I’m here in Worcester to visit with UGA graduate transfer offensive lineman Tyler Catalina. Catalina is training here in his hometown after recently graduating from the University of Rhode Island, where he played FCS ball the last three years.
Among the important lessons I’ve learned since arriving Sunday night: It’s pronounced WOOS-ster, or WUSS-ster if you’re attempting to achieve the true local dialect; and it can get really cold in May here. It was 40 last night.
I hope to talk Catalina into doing a Facebook Live chat later today on DawgNation, so stayed tuned.
Here’s some other things Bulldogs need to know today:
1. Season on line for ‘Haackers’
The No. 3-ranked Georgia men’s golf team has won three tournaments this season and has finished in the top five in all but one. But none of that will matter if coach Chris Haack’s Bulldogs don’t take care of business this week in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
UGA is one of the 13 teams in the Tuscaloosa Regional this week trying to secure five spots in the May 27 NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore. They’ll compete over 54 holes the next three days, starting Monday at the Ol’ Colony Golf Complex.
“There’s something about the whole season being on the line at one tournament,” said senior Lee McCoy, the reigning SEC Player of the Year. “It can get under your skin if you let it. But we’re going to treat it just like any other tournament.”
The Bulldogs were invited to an NCAA regional for the 21st straight year and for the 27th time in 28 seasons since the format was introduced in 1988-89. The Bulldogs have advanced from the regional to the NCAAs 20 times.
2. Tardy leads Lady Bulldogs
Georgia’s women’s golf team is the No. 6 seed for the NCAA Championships, which begin next Friday in Eugene, after Georgia swept the team and individual titles at the NCAA Bryan Regional last week. The Bulldogs have won a total of nine titles this season, five team and four individual.
Freshman Bailey Tardy fired a 7-under 209 – the sixth-best mark in school history – to tie for medalist honors and lead the Lady Bulldogs to victory. She has now been tabbed a finalist for both the Ping National Player of the Year award and freshman of the year awards.
“Bailey is playing her best golf of the year at the perfect time for us,” coach Josh Brewer said.
3. Tulsa tickets punched
Georgia’s men’s and women’s tennis teams both took care of business and punched their tickets for Tulsa, Okla., and the NCAA Championships over the weekend.
The No. 7-ranked men defeated No. 35 Baylor 4-1 on Sunday to win the Athens Regional and advance to the championship rounds for the 13th year in a row and for the 27th time in 28 years under coach Manny Diaz. The Bulldogs got a bit of scare when Austin Smith had to retire from his No. 1 singles match with back issues. But UGA officials say his injury is not considered serious and Smith should be good to go for nationals. Georgia will face 10th-seeded USC on Friday at 5 p.m.
The fifth-ranked Lady Bulldogs (22-4) also clinched a berth to Tulsa on Saturday with a 4-0 win over No. 40 Baylor at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex. Georgia secured its sixth consecutive trip to the NCAA Championships on Silvia Garcia’s dramatic victory in No. 3 singles. It was the 99th of her singles career. UGA will face 12th-seeded Oklahoma State late Thursday night.
4. Big final week for Diamond Dogs
The Diamond Dogs won their first SEC road series of the season when they took two of three from Missouri this past weekend. And it came just in the nick of time. The victory brought Georgia’s record back too .500 at 26-26 and kept its fleeting postseason hopes alive.
With a game Tuesday against Georgia Tech in the 14th annual Spring Baseball Classic at Turner Field and the final regular-season series against Tennessee starting Thursday in Athens, the Bulldogs have an opportunity to log a winning record. With one of the top strengths of schedule in the nation — UGA played a record 22 games in a row against Top 25 opponents — a winning record could put it in position to nab an at-large bid.
Georgia clinched the series on Sunday with a 5-2 win behind the pitching of Heath Holder and hitting of Michael Curry. Holder (4-3) struck out nine in seven innings and staked the Bulldogs to a 5-0 lead through six innings. Curry smashed his fifth home run in the last five games. Curry, a freshman catcher, also had an RBI single and batted .467 in the series, collecting seven hits with four home runs and six RBI. He now has a team-leading 11 home runs on the season. Bo Tucker notched his third save.
5. More SEC titles
The Georgia track teams locked down another pair of titles on the final day of the SEC Track & Field Championships in Tuscaloosa on Saturday. Record-breaking sophomore Keturah Orji left the field behind for the triple jump crown while sophomore Maddy Fagan won her first career conference title in the high jump. These wins complemented Ashinia Miller’s gold medal in the men’s shot put on Friday.
The Georgia men completed the meet with 58 points for seventh place while the Lady Bulldogs took eighth place with 59 points. The Arkansas women (126.75) and men (121) swept the team race.