One of the biggest cornerstones of the Razorbacks’ recent softball success will be back at Bogle Park today – just wearing a different uniform and in the opposing dugout.
Former Razorback star Danielle Gibson is now an assistant for No. 8 Georgia (29-6, 9-2), who will begin a three-game series with No. 9 Arkansas (27-9, 8-4).
There’s even a T-shirt giveaway featuring Gibson to the first 5009 fans that get to the park to see the match up between two of the SEC’s top three teams with the other being No. 5 Tennessee (29-3).
“They’re just a tremendous team and a great staff, and I know she’s added a lot of value to that,” Arkansas head coach Courtney Deifel said. “So, I’m excited to see her. I’m not excited to compete against her, and then I will be excited to see her again, you know, after the game.
“But it will be fun and I’m excited for our fans to welcome her back. She should get a really warm welcome back as she’s earned that, absolutely.”
The Bulldogs have outscored their SEC opponents by a whopping 30 runs and and gave blasted a league-leading 62 home runs, third nationally going into Thursday nights game and will fave a strong and deep Arkansas pitching staff.
“Georgia just flat swings it,” Deifel said. “I mean, they’re at the top of the standings in a lot of areas in our conference, and rightfully so. They’re a tremendous team with a ton of explosiveness and playing really well right now.
“And so, I think for us, it’s just doing our thing and hopefully trying to contain it, because I don’t think you could go in, realistically, and think you’re going to completely control it…I think a big thing is knowing who they are, but also knowing who we are and that we have strengths in that match up as well.”
Deifel thinks this year’s Georgia hitters is very similar to her SEC Championship teams of the last two seasons.
“I think so,” Deifel said. “I was talking to a friend the other day and they were like – this is like your team last year.’ I see that when I am just watching them and preparing for them. Every batter has the ability to change the game so you can’t take a pitch off.”
Georgia comes into the series opener off winning 2 of 3 game against Kentucky, but had its 11-game winning stopped when the Wildcats won 4-0 on Monday.
Bulldogs head coach Tony Baldwin notes it’s another week with a big challenge, albeit with less time for his team to prepare.
“You know, it’s kind of a weird week,” Baldwin said after Monday’s game. “We got to play tonight, we’re going to take a day off tomorrow, we’ll try and get a good workout in on Wednesday and then head to Arkansas and play another really good team.
“But you know, that’s life in the SEC. They’re all good teams. We’ve got to clean up our defense. We’ve been playing great defense all season but this weekend we got it a little out of whack. But I don’t think that’s who we are. I think we can still be a really good defensive team and we’ll just keep working to do that.”