UT to face Georgia in SEC softball tourney

With the 2008 regular season wrapped up, it's time for No. 14 Tennessee (46-13, 14-12) to dive head-long into the postseason with a trip to Baton Rouge, La., for the annual Southeastern Conference Tournament. The fourth-seeded Lady Vols will battle fifth-seeded Georgia (43-21, 14-14) at noon ET on Thursday in opening round action.

It's the eighth overall and fifth consecutive visit for Tennessee to the tournament in program history.

The winner of the matchup between the Big Orange and Lady Bulldogs will face the victor of top-seeded Florida against eighth-seeded Ole Miss on Friday in the semifinal round. The tourney, featuring the league's top eight squads, is single elimination.

UT has won the event once in program history back in 2006 with a 3-0 win over LSU in the title contest. The Lady Vols possess a 14-13 all-time record in the league event, but are just 1-2 all-time in the tourney against Georgia. The last meeting between the two squads in the conference tournament occurred on May 13, 2005, with the Lady Bulldogs emerging victorious by a 5-3 score.

The all-time series between Tennessee and Georgia favors the Lady Bulldogs 23-20, but the Orange & White have controlled recent action triumphing in each of the last six matchups overall and seven of the last eight. The Lady Vols swept a three-game series from the Red & Black back over April 5-6 in Knoxville at the Lee Softball Stadium by scores of 6-4, 9-0 (6 inn.) and 5-1.

Freshman first baseman Jen Lapicki led the offensive attack by hitting .571 (4-of-7) with a home run and five RBIs. Senior third baseman and SEC Player of the Year candidate Tonya Callahan posted a .500 average with two homers and three runs-batted-in, while slugging at a 1.667 clip. Both big flies occurred during the 9-0 (6 innings) rout in the series' second contest.

Senior hurler Megan Rhodes registered a 3-0 mark during the set with a 1.62 ERA over 13.0 innings of work. Georgia hit just .114 as a team against the Nashville, Tenn., right hander.

Georgia enters the SEC Tournament on a high having won six of its last eight games and fresh off a series-closing 4-2 victory last Sunday over then-No. 1 Alabama in Athens, Ga. The victory over the Crimson Tide was the first over a top-rated team for the Lady Bulldogs in program history.

UGA is led offensively by freshman Megan Wiggins and her .345 average (69-of-200) with five HR's and a team-high 47 RBIs. Senior Melissa Wood has provided the power by blasting 11 of UGA's 22 total home runs to go along with 43 RBIs. The Lady Bulldogs have swiped 77 bases this season and are scoring 4.3 runs-per-game over 64 contests.

Three pitchers have totaled over 100 innings for the Red & Black in 2008 while combining for a 2.83 team ERA. Freshman Sarah McCloud has received the most time in the circle by firing 140.2 frames with a 2.09 ERA and a 14-6 record. Sophomore Kate Gaskill has posted a 15-6 mark with a 2.08 ERA and a team-high 163 strikeouts in 121.1 innings. Junior Christie Hamilton is 12-3 overall with a 3.72 ERA and 93 K's in 113.0 frames.

Live stats will be available through UT Lady Vols, while free live video will be available through links on SEC Sports, and LSU Sports.

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