Tennessee softball returns home this week for its penultimate home series of the season, this time against No. 22 Georgia. The Lady Vols are winners of six of their last seven but have yet to post consistent SEC numbers. This is especially concerning after a narrow series win against a struggling South Carolina squad last weekend.
Georgia (6-9 SEC), like Tennessee, is desperate for an SEC victory. The Bulldogs are 1-4 in their last five contests, but earned some momentum before their trip to Knoxville when they split their series with No. 1 Oklahoma on Tuesday, handing the Sooners their first loss of the year. Georgia’s previous matchups against No. 10 Arkansas saw the Bulldogs drop their third SEC series of the year after collecting two victories earlier in the season against Kentucky and Missouri.
“They are a good team and can compete with anyone in the country,” co-head coach Karen Weekly said. “We have to be ready for them just like we have to be ready for every SEC team we play.”
Kiki Milloy and Ashley Rogers head into this weekend’s series against Georgia with two more weekly awards added to their resumé. This marks the first time this season in which the Lady Vols brought home two weekly awards in the same week. Milloy won SEC Player of the Week for the second time this year, posting two RBI and three runs scored while also stealing six bases in the process.
Rogers earned her third pitcher of the week honor this past week, posting two complete games while bringing her SEC leading strikeout total to 210 on the year. The junior ace has been virtually unhittable this year, and her ERA of 0.93 leads the SEC by a wide margin.
“Her numbers this season speak for themselves and tells you how much we missed her last year,” coach Weekly said. “Ashley is a big piece for us.”
Georgia has seen inconsistency from the circle thus far this season. The Bulldogs’ lowest ERA belongs to Mary Wilson Avant, who has posted a modest 2.33 in a 15-5 effort. Georgia’s team ERA of 2.81 is 10th in the SEC. Interestingly, despite a less than ideal pitching performance on the season, the Bulldogs are the only SEC school that has yet to allow a triple this season. Still, the disparity between pitching could end up telling the story this weekend.
The Bulldogs are second in the SEC in home runs with 63, second only to Arkansas. Georgia batters, while not posting excellent on-base numbers — .366, 11th in the SEC — have been known to make outfielders work this season. Georgia’s slugging percentage of .530 is fifth in the SEC, led by Lacey Fincher with an impressive .785 total.
Fincher is by far the Bulldog’s most effective batter, posting 28 RBI and 11 home runs on .366 hitting.
“We need to focus on what we do well and play our game,” Weekly said of the matchup. “We’re getting towards the end of the season and every game is important.”
Game one of the series starts Friday at 6 p.m. ET at Sherri Parker Lee stadium. Games two and three will be nationally televised on ESPN 2 at 2 p.m. ET.