Tuesday, May 21, 2013

It's All Over Now--for our 2013 Team

Granddaughter Geri Ann’s freshman year is over now at University of Georgia, and so is her first year of playing college softball.  Gerald and I went down to her first college game last fall during the practice season, and he and nephew DuWayne attended some games during the regular season.  This past week as the Georgia Dawgs earned the honor to play in the Regionals, we were often glued to the television in the family room.  I am sure that 63 other sets of softball fans also spent much of the past weekend watching as those 64 teams were pared down to the 16 champions to move on to the Super Regionals this weekend.

Friday was our first game and we watched as long as we dared before we jumped in the car and hurried half way up the state for Brianna’s graduation.  Gerald phoned ahead and told Mary Ellen to save us seats because we should be there at least by the benediction.  As it turned out, we were 15 minutes early with time to go to the restroom and find our family in the crowded gym.  However we saw one huge line of traffic in the opposite southbound lane that caused us to feel fortunate to be north-bound.  We might not even have made the benediction. 

When we left Woodsong, we knew our Dawgs were ahead of San Diego State by 6-3, but at this level of play, anything can happen.  So we were making phone calls and were delighted to find out when we reached the graduation that we won 9-3, and that Geri Ann had four singles and was chosen as Player of the Game.  In these double elimination tourneys, you hope to keep in the winners’ bracket because it is tough to have to play more games and then need to defeat non-losing twice to win first place.

Since we came on home yet on Friday night, we were able to watch UGA play Arizona State in our family room on Saturday evening to decide who would go into the losers’ bracket.  (Actually I started watching the game at Katherine’s house where I was working on the coming week’s meds.  Gma Shirley came in smiling with a fountain drink for Katherine and they were watching in her family room and yelling at me when Geri Ann was up. But I hurried back home as soon as I could to watch with Gerald.) We knew that the #5 seed and the team with Dallas Escobedo as pitcher was quite a challenge. So we were pleased when our Anna Swafford had a two-out single and broke up Escobedo’s no hitter. But Escobedo’s 11 strike outs explain how we lost 2-0 and ended up in the losers’ bracket. 

That meant we had to play an elimination game later that night against San Diego State again since they had defeated San Jose in the losers’ bracket.  They came back strong from the night before, but we were able to win 3-2 thanks to Paige Wilson’s three-run homer.  I love watching this redhead sophomore from Chicago hustle and do her thing. Of course, I love watching all these Dawgs play.  Freshmen Kaylee Puailoa and Tina Iosefa came here from Samoa by way of California, and their home runs have been an exciting part of UGA’s home run record season.  And my favorite to watch may be Naija Griffin, a little sophomore who runs like a deer and can fool the other team with a hard driven hit as well as a bunt. She and senior Christine Olney made some spectacular catches out there in the field also. Freshman Samantha LaZear is another fleet footed player who beat the ball to first, stole second, and then made it to third on an error.  Catcher Katie Brown has one of the best arms in college softball, and she too helped made sure Morgan Montemayor get this second win of the tournament for UGA. 

We sat down to watch championship play on Sunday knowing if we lost that our season was over.  We also knew if we won, we would have to turn around 30 minutes later and play Arizona State a second time to win the chance to move on to Super Regionals.  Freshman pitcher Chelsea Wilkinson soared during the last part of our season and did a magnificent job for UGA, but unfortunately Arizona moved ahead 2-0 in the first inning.   Once again we faced Escobedo, and once again after that first inning  she and Morgan Montemayor, known affectionately as “Mo” were pitted against each other.   Mo was back home in Arizona for this tourney, and she and Escobedo had each led Arizona high school teams to championships.  It was fun to watch the camera pan Mo’s family in the stands, and she did us proud with three scoreless innings against this outstanding team.  Despite senior Tess Sito’s single and move to second on a bunt by Olney, we never scored.. (Tess has signed to play professional ball next year.)  So our season ended with a 40-21 record. We did not get the play that second championship game against the Sun Devils.

Arizona State will be playing Kentucky at Lexington this weekend, and I am sure we will be watching, but not with the interest we would have if Georgia had been the one to move on to Super Regionals
It is over for us, but eight other teams surviving this weekend will move onto Oklahoma City for the NAAC Nationals.  With the tornado destruction in that area of our nation, I am sure this will be a sobering experience for these players as well as the usual exhilarating time that players enjoy when they make it all the way to Oklahoma.

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