UGA spring sports teams have work to do heading into postseason

Georgia closer Jack Gowen retired all 11 batters he faced to secure the No. 22 Bulldogs' 8-3 win over No. 1 Tennessee on Saturday in Knoxville, Tenn. (Photo by Rob Davis/UGA Athletics)

Credit: Rob Davis

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Georgia closer Jack Gowen retired all 11 batters he faced to secure the No. 22 Bulldogs' 8-3 win over No. 1 Tennessee on Saturday in Knoxville, Tenn. (Photo by Rob Davis/UGA Athletics)

Credit: Rob Davis

ATHENS — It’s tourney time.

Spring sports either are already well into NCAA Tournament play or about to be. So far, at least, the Georgia Bulldogs haven’t exactly distinguished themselves.

UGA’s prestigious women’s tennis team made an uncharacteristically early exit this year when it was ousted by Duke this past weekend in the round of 16, 4-1. It wasn’t a shocking loss, as the Bulldogs (19-7) were seeded 13th as opposed to the No. 3 Blue Devils, who were competing on their home courts. But, relatively speaking, it was a down year for Jeff Wallace’s program, which has won two national championships and had 31 top-10 finishes.

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“We will get better there next year,” said Wallace, who remains the winningest coach in women’s tennis. “We will be back.”

Likewise, it was a down year for Georgia’s men’s tennis team. Coach Manuel Diaz’s Bulldogs, owners of six outdoor and indoor championships, went down to Florida State in the second round of the tournament on May 7. They were playing without their top player, who was injured.

Both the men’s and women’s teams reached the quarterfinals last year. But it has been a while since either has reached the mountaintop – 14 years for the men and 21 for the women.

Georgia’s softball team received its 20th consecutive NCAA Tournament bid on Sunday. Like women’s tennis, the Bulldogs’ tournament journey will begin in the Durham (N.C.) Regional. They open against Liberty on Friday at noon.

In its first season under coach Tony Baldwin, Georgia softball (40-16) has recorded an 18th season of 40 or more wins. But the Bulldogs finished in the lower half of the SEC this year, falling to Ole Miss in their opening game of the SEC Tournament last Wednesday. It likely will require an upset win over No. 12 Duke for the Bulldogs to earn their 12th Super Regional berth. Georgia holds a 74-41 all-time record in the NCAA Tournament.

Georgia baseball helped its postseason cause this past weekend when it rallied for an 8-3 victory over No. 1-ranked Tennessee this past Saturday in Knoxville. It was just the seventh loss of the season for the Vols (45-7, 22-5 SEC) and kept the Bulldogs from being swept in an SEC series for the first time since 2019.

More important, the win likely solidified Georgia’s place in the postseason. The Bulldogs (33-18, 14-13) actually moved up from ninth to seventh in RPI. With Presbyterian visiting Tuesday and last-place Missouri coming to Foley Field for the final three-game set of the season starting Thursday, a clean sweep could go a long way toward helping the Bulldogs lock up a spot as a regional host.

Currently, Georgia projects as a No. 6 seed for the SEC Tournament in Hoover the following week. The attitude is good after avoiding a sweep by the Vols.

“We challenged the team,” coach Scott Stricklin said. “… We have a lot of upperclassmen on this team, and they took it personal. The goal was to have a chip on our shoulder and really fight today. I thought we really did.”

Coach Josh Brewer’s women’s golf team accomplished its mission to reach the NCAA Championships for a second consecutive year by shooting 2 over last week in New Mexico. It will be the Bulldogs’ 24th appearance in the championships.

Coach Chris Haack’s men’s golf team was invited to a regional for the 26th straight year over the weekend and for the 32nd time in 33 seasons (missing in 1995 and excluding 2020 as the postseason was canceled) since the format was introduced in 1988-89. Georgia is headed to the Bryan (Texas) Regional and will need to finish in the top five of the 12-team field to advance to the NCAA Championships in Scottsdale, Ariz. (May 27 to June 1).

Track and field is next up for the postseason tournament challenge. The men’s team finished fifth and pulled its most points since 2017 (75), while the women’s team came in 10th. The NCAA East Prelims are May 25-28 in Bloomington, Ind.

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