The Panther softball team will take on the Georgia Bulldogs in what will be Georgia State’s first home game of the season. The Bulldogs, coming in at 9-1 and winners of five in a row, will be looking to assert their dominance on a team searching for their groove.
The Georgia game offers the Panthers a glimpse of elite talent and a gauge of exactly how much they have to improve to be a true contender in the Sun Belt. With a 1-9 start that isn’t indicative of the goals the team set for itself at the beginning of the year, a game on home territory might allow for the team to gain some momentum.
Georgia State the Georgia game after going 1-3 in the Samford Challenge in Birmingham, Alabama. The youth and inexperience of the Panthers’ squad proved to be an issue for the team so far.
“I think we are still trying to find that chemistry on the field,” co-captain and outfielder Reagan Morgan said. “We have a young team and a lot of people that can play different positions so we are still trying to get used to playing next to each other and getting a feel for what everyone can do. I think once we find that, the defense will come together and the bats will follow.”
Georgia State will be facing a Georgia team who has had one of the most productive offenses in the Southeastern Conference. In 257 at-bats for the Bulldogs, the team has hit 19 home runs – the best in the SEC – and have scored 105 runs so far in the season.
Senior Alyssa DiCarlo is tied for second in the SEC in runs batted in with 23 in 28 at-bats. DiCarlo also is first with home runs hit with eight so far in the season. Her .571 batting average is third in the conference.
Georgia has three players in the top five of players with the most scored runs – DiCarlo and junior Justice Milz with 16 each and freshmen CJ Landrum has 13.
The Bulldogs will bring a talented, cohesive team to the Robert E. Heck Softball Complex when they face Georgia State. Morgan and the team are up to the challenge and are eager to get a win at home.
“It’s very important to get a win at home and playing against a [Georgia] team of that caliber presents an exciting opportunity,” Morgan said. “I think that would be the momentum we need to get us going this season.”
Even though the season wins haven’t come, head coach Roger Kincaid has continued to remind the team that each game represents another chance to improve and get better, and facing Georgia certainly is one.
The Panthers visited their cross-town competition, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on Feb. 13, losing 8-3, but team co-captain Remington Hasty saw some improvements the team can build on.
“I told everyone that we need to keep pushing and focus on the good things that we do,” Hasty said. “When we played Georgia Tech, we had a lot of good at bats, and we had a ton of energy in the dugout and I was proud of that. So we need to cruise with those good things because the other things that aren’t clicking right now will come.”
There aren’t any hung heads or lowered spirits in the Panther dugout, Hasty said, but rather a feeling of motivation to use this early part of the season to grow as players and team.
“Starting like this leaves a sour taste in your mouth,” Hasty said. “[After] our game against Georgia Tech I think there was a difference in the energy and enthusiasm in the dugout even though we didn’t come out with a win. Right now we are just trying to stay positive and build on the good things that we do, and have fun doing it.”