ATHENS, Ga. -- The 14th-ranked Georgia softball team will travel to Columbus, GA., this weekend to play five games in the 14th-Annual National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Division I Leadoff Classic.
All games in the tournament will be played at the South Commons Stadium and Complex, the site of the 1996 Olympic softball practice sessions prior to the medal games, and the event will be hosted by the Columbus Sports Council. The Leadoff Classic, scheduled to take place Feb. 27-March 1, has established itself as one of college softball’s premier tournaments, sending seven of its 13 previous champions to Oklahoma City for the Women’s College World Series.
This year’s field once again features some of the top collegiate teams in the nation with 11 of the 21 participating teams currently ranked in the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 Poll and another four receiving votes. Fifteen teams in this year’s field advanced to the 2008 NCAA tournament, including three Women’s College World Series participants, making the 14th Annual Leadoff Classic another battle of some of the nation’s best collegiate teams.
The 11 currently-ranked teams scheduled for the 2009 Leadoff Classic include Alabama (1), Michigan (6), DePaul (13), Georgia (14), Louisiana-Lafayette (T16), Northwestern (18), Southern Illinois (19), LSU (20), Massachusetts (23), Ohio State (24) and Mississippi State (25). Teams at the tournament receiving votes in the NFCA Top 25 include Houston, Florida State, South Carolina and Georgia Tech.
Play is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. ET on Friday with games beginning on each of the facility’s six fields. Georgia will open with Massachusetts at 4 p.m. and then play DePaul at 6:30 p.m. Friday evening with both games on Field 5. On Saturday, the Bulldogs play a pair of games on Field 4, facing Penn State at 1:30 p.m. and Hofstra at 4 p.m. UGA concludes play in the tournament Sunday against Ohio State at 10 a.m. on Field 2. More information about the Leadoff Classic including the complete schedule of games, ticket information and directions can be found at http://nfca.org/classic/division1.
Georgia-Umass Series History: The Bulldogs and Minutewomen have met on four previous occasions and the series is tied 2-2. Georgia won the last meeting by a score of 4-3 at the 2005 Leadoff Classic.
Georgia-DePaul Series History: Georgia and DePaul played each other for the first time last season, meeting twice in Athens and splitting the games. The Bulldogs won the first game, 3-2, and the Blue Demons won the second, 6-5.
Georgia-Penn State Series History: Georgia holds a 2-1 series lead over Penn State. The last meeting came in 2004 at the Palm Springs Classic in California with the Bulldogs winning 3-0.
Georgia-Hofstra Series History: The Bulldogs and Pride have played each other only once before in 1999 at the University of South Florida Speedline Invitational. Georgia won that meeting 10-2 in five innings.
Georgia-Ohio State Series History: Georgia has only played Ohio State on one previous occasion as well when the teams met last year at the Schutt Sports Invitational in Miami, Fla. Georgia prevailed in that game, 6-4.
Bulldogs To Watch: Sophomore Alisa Goler is the reigning Southeastern Conference Player of the Week after hitting .636-3-16 in last weekend’s Georgia Softball Classic. For the season, Goler (.616-9-36) leads a group of five Bulldogs hitting over .400 that includes sophomore Taylor Schlopy (.500-3-12, 25 runs), sophomore Megan Wiggins (.475-5-23), senior Kristin Schnake (.428-0-9, 16 runs) and sophomore Brianna Hesson (.432-3-15).
On Deck For The Bulldogs: The NFCA Leadoff Classic marks the beginning of an 11-game road swing for the Bulldogs. Following the Leadoff Classic, the road stretch will continue March 6-8 at the Easton SEC/Pac-10/Big 12 Challenge in Tuscaloosa, Ala., where Georgia will play twice against Baylor and twice against Washington. The 11-game road swing will conclude with the start of Southeastern Conference play with a double header at Florida March 11. The Bulldogs next home game will be on March 14 against LSU.