UGA softball to reload on offense with freshmen

Georgia’s offense has built a reputation for rough treatment of the paintwork on outfield fences.

The Bulldogs’ line drives have left a trail of dents in walls across the Southeastern Conference and all the way to Oklahoma City in recent years under Lu Harris-Champer.

“There’s not really any way to define it, we just try to score runs,” Harris-Champer said. “We try to use the personnel that we have and work to their strength. We love the home run, I’m not going to lie. We get excited to see a home run. But we get just as excited to see a quick bunt go down or a squeeze play or a hit-and-run to the gap.”

Georgia begins its 2013 season when it hosts the Red and Black Showcase this weekend at the Jack Turner Softball Complex. Georgia will play Elon at 3 p.m. and Ohio State at 5:30 p.m. today. Georgia will also play Elon at 12:30 p.m. and Ohio State at 3 p.m. on Saturday. The Bulldogs will finish opening weekend with a game against Winthrop at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday.

“We’ve been pretty powerful,” Georgia senior Tess Sito said. “We have great coaching and we work really hard at hitting the ball up the middle and score as many runs as we can.”

Georgia ranked No. 4 in the Southeastern Conference in runs scored (303) and tied for third in the league in home runs (60) last season as it went 45-17 and advanced at least to the NCAA Super Regionals for the last five seasons.

“Our offensive philosophy is to hit line drives gap to gap,” Georgia sophomore Paige Wilson said. “If the ball goes out, it goes out. If it doesn’t, you’ve got to know if you get on top of the ball they’re hard shots.”

Georgia only has two of its top run producers from last season coming back. Wilson batted .342 with nine home runs and 45 RBIs. Sito batted .305 with eight home runs and 35 RBIs last season. That means the Bulldogs hope for major production from the eight incoming freshmen, including three who were ranked among ESPN’s top 20 national recruits.

Despite finishing in the top half of the SEC in most of the offensive categories, Georgia’s numbers were significantly down from where they had been the previous three years when Georgia had maybe the top bating order in the conference. Georgia hit 97 home runs and scored 434 runs in 2011, 99 home runs and scored 422 runs in 2010 and hit 85 home runs with 373 runs in 2009.

“Georgia softball has always been about power,” Georgia freshman Geri Ann Glasco said. “They take their cuts, but when you get down to game time, you have to get things done. You want to throw the other team off balance. We try to hit a lot of line drives in practice and when it comes to games, that’s what happens.”

Georgia’s approach is is diametrically different from the small-ball, slap-hit approach used by many teams.

“We just want to hit the ball hard and get as many bases as we can,” Sito said. “It’s an awesome feeling to get one run because when we get one, we want to get two and then three and then four and just keep going.”