Georgia’s softball team typically has been good, but the Bulldogs are back to the verge of true greatness at the midway point of the SEC season.
Georgia’s No. 5 ranking this week is its highest since 2011, and the Bulldogs No. 4 RPI rank is tops among SEC teams after taking series from Florida and Tennessee this season.
That’s not bad for a team picked to finish ninth in the league after a last-place finish in 2017.
“Our key and our focus is to be in the present and stay in the here and now,” longtime coach Lu Harris-Champer said.
Indeed, it’s a mindset that permeates the team, as evidenced by the response from second baseman Justice Milz when told Georgia became the first road team to run-rule Tennessee in back-to-back games in the Lady Vols history.
“The game doesn’t know what happened in the past, the game’s not going to know what will happen in the future,” said Milz, who captured SEC Player of the Week honors with 3 home runs and 7 RBI in Knoxville, Tenn.
As for what has happened in the past for Georgia softball this season, it’s impressive heading into a three-game set with Missouri this weekend:
• The Bulldogs have a 33-4 record (9-3 SEC), which includes a 25-game win streak earlier in the season.
• Georgia’s 1-0 win at Georgia Tech on Wednesday marked the Bulldogs’ 10th straight win over its in-state rival.
• Georgia took two of three games at Tennessee for its first series win over the Lady Vols since 2010.
• The Bulldogs lead the SEC in hitting (.353) and home runs (49) and are second in stolen bases (60).
• Georgia pitcher Brittany Gray leads the SEC with a 0.48 ERA and 16-1 record; the team’s ERA (1.02) is second in the SEC.
• Bulldogs shortstop Alyssa DiCarlo leads the SEC with 14 home runs, including the solo shot that lifted Georgia over Georgia Tech.
• Cortni Emanuel leads SEC with 54 hits, while Ciara Bryan leads the SEC with 4 triples.
Tennessee co-head coach Karen Weekly said Georgia proved to the Lady Vols that the Bulldogs are the best team in the conference.
“I would say they are the favorites, and from what I watched on film coming into this series, that was my assessment at that point and time,” Weekly said. “They have a deep pitching staff, they have a deep offense, and they played some great defense this weekend.”
Milz, who’s hitting .385 (12th in the SEC) with 10 home runs (4th in the SEC), said the Bulldogs have something to prove.
“We’re just calming our minds and using last year as motivation, and showing people what we’re all about,” Milz said. “There’s no such thing as pressure when we play together.”
Georgia is a lock to make its 17th straight NCAA regional appearance. The SEC could get all 13 of its teams into the 64-team NCAA field for a second straight year. Ole Miss has the lowest RPI in the SEC at 34.
The Bulldogs’ final four SEC series are against the lowest-RPI teams in the league: Missouri (22), Alabama (20), Kentucky (26) and Ole Miss.
Georgia swept Arkansas (17) in the midst of its record-tying 25-game win streak earlier this season, and has also taken 2 of 3 in series at Mississippi State (19), at Tennessee (8) and against Florida (6).
The Bulldogs open play vs. Missouri at 6 p.m. on Friday. On Saturday, the teams will meet in a nationally televised game (ESPNU) at 6 p.m. game televised nationally, and the series will wrap up Sunday at 2 p.m.
Georgia can match the best start in program history (2002) by taking the first two games against the Tigers, and establish a record with a three-game sweep.
(This story was written by SEC Country’s Mike Griffith).