One Year Turnaround for Dawgs

OMAHA, NE – A year removed from a losing season, Georgia is playing for the national championship.

The stark contrast between this year's team and the 2007 Diamond Dogs is not lost on head coach David Perno.

"What a difference a year makes is probably the most amazing thing to me," he said. "Just the fact that this team, 2008, is in the national championship series – it's been quite a run and hopefully we can finish it out."

Monday's title game starter Trevor Holder said the improvement from last year to this one is hard to appreciate.

"It's quite a transition. If you just think about being 23-33, and just how awful that is, and then being able to compete and play for the national title. It's just a huge turnaround. It means a lot for all these guys here, just more motivation to work harder and really not let this go to waste what a special opportunity we have," he said.

As for an explanation of the improvement?

"It's maturity. It's leadership. It's just guys having confidence. I know last year we just lost a couple games and it was one of those things where we just started to think, like (Ryan) Peisel was saying, 'how are we going to lose this one?' It happened earlier this year too," Holder said. "But just having the leadership in the clubhouse just to be like, 'this is not happening our watch. We're not going stand for this.'"

His coach had thoughts as well.

"When Josh (Fields) decided to come back to school, that was kind of the tell. We still felt good about the team coming back. Gordon (Beckham), I just had a feeling, was going to put everything together. Anytime you have the best shortstop in the country, you're going to be pretty good. These guys are battle tested," Perno said.

Perno also echoed the sentiments of his starting pitcher about leadership being key, and said that it was vital for the rest of the team in addition to Beckham and Fields to step up its play.

"We had the pieces. And then when Josh decided to come back, I was like, 'we better be good or else I might not have a job.' Fortunately we did a nice job and really banded together with leadership, and I preached on that a lot this week. And it wasn't so much the leadership as it was the performance from those guys who were expected to lead," he said.

And if all goes according to Georgia's plan, those players expecting to lead will have one more opportunity to do so - in a national championship celebration.

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