Georgia is used to a solid spring of athletic victory, but this year has seen mixed to no success. Spring hasn't been all bad so far, but it hasn't been particularly enjoyable either. Here's an update:
Baseball: Ugh. Where to begin? The most obvious problem with the baseball team is that the pitchers can't get hitters out. The team ERA is a titanic 8.52, three runs ahead of the the closest competitor. When the opposition isn't hitting at the plate, they are walking. We've issued 207 free passes this year, besting our closest competition in that stat by 40(!) walks. You can't win with those stats even if you are hitting the ball well, which we aren't. We're also last in the league in average and runs. Our pitching coach, Brady Wiederhold, should take a long look at his work this year (and last). Perno, in turn, should take a long look at Wiederhold. The numbers don't lie.
Gymnastics: After five straight national championships, losing one of the greatest college gymnasts ever, and the resignation of one of the greatest coaches in UGA history, a letdown was inevitable. But this big of a letdown? The GymDogs didn't get out of their first round meet this year, much less to the Super Six.
Men's Tennis: The NCAAs are still upcoming, but the season ended with a wobble and thud. The Dawgs were undefeated in conference before their final two matches against UF and UT, the best two teams in the conference. Those matches resulted in two Ls. It didn't help that freshman Bo Seal was suspended for the final leg of the season. He stayed suspended for the SEC Tournament last weekend and the team fell 4-3 to Auburn in their first match. It appears Seal won't be playing in the NCAAs either, which greatly limits the team's prospects. Manny Diaz has signed two really good American prospects for next year, but we continue to get burned overseas by players who either go pro early or can't pass the TOEFL exam.
Women's Tennis: The girls fared only a little worse than the guys. They lost in their first round match up in Athens at the SEC Tournament. This isn't a championship squad, but the pieces are in place for an excellent team next year. Gullickson and Gilchrist will be at the top of the line up, but Coach Wallace will welcome what should be the top recruiting class in the country. He signed four bluechippers and the top prep player in Japan.
Soccer: Their season isn't until the fall, but the soccer program had some big news recently with the resignation of Coach Patrick Baker resigned abruptly to spend more time with his family. It's a sad commentary when that stated reason leads you to suspect seriously malfeasance or perversion, but I haven't heard anything that would contradict Baker's stated reasons for quitting. But, I wouldn't know anything about the soccer program other than scores. Steve Holeman, formerly the HC at Ole Miss, will take over for Baker.
It hasn't been a total loss, though. We can all celebrate the equestrian team's national title in a sport that doesn't count in the Sears Cup and isn't recognized by the SEC. Hooray. Maybe softball can brighten our prospects, but by all accounts, 2009-2010 has been a long year for athletics.