Georgia will play 13 teams who reached the NCAA postseason last year.
Georgia was No. 7 in the final national polls after making the prgoram's third trip to the WCWS.
Georgia and Florida State will play at noon ET on Thursday on ESPN.
The Bulldogs and Gators will play a best-of-three series for a trip to OKC.
Four Bulldogs earned NFCA All-Region accolades.
Georgia Softball vs. Arkansas (Game One)
Harris-Champer is 777-273 in her time with the Bulldogs that includes a 272-150 record in the SEC. She has also established Georgia as one of the elite programs in the nation. Under her guidance, Georgia has had 25 NFCA All-Americans, 13 Easton All-Americans, 80 All-SEC recognitions, 58 NFCA All-Region selections, 21 SEC All-Tournament honorees, 27 SEC Players of the Week, 28 SEC Pitchers of the Week, 18 SEC Freshmen of the Week, one SEC Player of the Year, two SEC Pitchers of the Year, one SEC Freshman of the Year and has been named the SEC Coach of the Year twice.
Under her leadership, Georgia has been equally impressive off of the field. In her 16 seasons at the helm, Georgia has had three CoSIDA Academic All-Americans, 12 CoSIDA Academic All-District selection, 88 members of the SEC Academic Honor Roll, 27 members of the SEC First Year Academic Honor Roll, 13 players named to the SEC Community Service Team and five players inducted into the UGA Student-Athlete Leadership Academy.
The 2016 season was a magical one for Georgia softball and Harris-Champer, as the season accumulated in the program's third apperance at the Women's College World Series. After an early exit in the SEC Tournament, the Bulldogs entered postseason with a vengence, taking the crown at the Athens Regional before bouncing back-to-back national champion Florida with a shutout win in game one and a Kaylee Puailoa walk-off home run in game two to secure their spot in Oklahoma City.
At season's end, Georgia had a 46-20 record, including 12-12 in SEC play. Eight Bulldogs hit over .300 for the year, guiding the team to a program-best .342 batting average. Tina Iosefa set a SEC and school record for most RBI in a season with 87 on her way to earning NFCA All-America honors. Four garnered NFCA All-Region awards while seven made it to an All-SEC Team, including freshman Alyssa DiCarlo to the first team as she had 63 RBI for the year, the most of any freshman in the NCAA.
Harris-Champer and Georgia finished the 2015 season with an overall record of 44-17 that included a 14-9 mark in the SEC. Following the regular season, the Bulldogs earned the No. 14 seed in the NCAA Tournament where the team fought its way back from a 14-inning loss to WKU to win the next three games, outscoring its opponents 35-8. As a team offensively, Georgia set several program records. The 2015 hitters posted program-best marks in batting average (.343), runs scored (440) and on-base percentage (.420). The 554 hits were the fourth most in program-history and the most since 2006, while the 380 RBIs was the second-highest mark in school history and the best since 2011. The pitching staff finished with its lowest team ERA since 2012.
In addition to the team accomplishments, the Bulldogs had several players earn individual awards. Alex Hugo and Cortni Emanuel highlighted the award season, as each earned NFCA All-America honors. Emanuel was also a top-10 finalist for the USA Softball Freshman of the Year. Georgia put seven players on the NFCA All-Region team and had five All-SEC selections.
In her 14th season with the Bulldogs, Harris-Champer led the team to unprecedented heights when the team won the 2014 SEC Tournament. The Bulldogs beat eventual national champion Florida and national runner-up Alabama in the tournament before handing Kentucky a 5-2 loss to claim the title. It was the first-ever tournament title for the Bulldogs. With the win, Georgia earned a berth to the NCAA Tournament for the 13th time. The SEC Tournament title propelled the team to a No. 4 national seed, allowing it to host both the Regional and Super Regional. Georgia finished the year with a 49-15 that included a 15-9 mark in SEC play. In addition to the team successes, Harris-Champer coached several players to individual honors. Hugo, the 2014 NCAA Home Run Champion, was named a First Team NFCA All-American, to the All-SEC First Team, the All-SEC Tournament Team and the All-Southeast Region team. Chelsea Wilkinson was recognized as a Second Team All-American, the SEC Tournament MVP, a member of the All-Southeast Region Team, the All-SEC team and was named the SEC Pitcher of the Week twice. Additionally, Paige Wilson was an All-Southeast Region selection and named to the All-SEC and SEC All-Tournament team. In all, the Bulldogs had seven members named to the All-Southeast Region team, as Tina Iosefa, Geri Ann Glasco, Samantha LaZear and Anna Swafford each earned the honor.
In 2013, Harris-Champer led Georgia to its 12th NCAA Tournament. The 2013 Bulldogs finished the season with a 40-21 record that included a 14-9 mark in the SEC, seven wins over teams ranked in the top-25, sweeps of four SEC series and a two-game sweep of Georgia Tech. Harris-Champer coached four players to All-SEC honors, as Wilson and Kaylee Puailoa were each named First Team All-SEC and Glasco, Puailoa and Wilkinson earned a spot on the SEC All-Freshman Team. Glasco was named the SEC Co-Freshman of the Year, marking the first time in program history that a Georgia player received Freshman of the Year honors. Wilson and Wilkinson were also named to the SEC All-Tournament team. In addition to All-SEC honors, Puailoa, Glasco and Wilson were also named the NFCA All-Region Teams, with Glasco going on to earn Third Team NFCA All-America honors.
The 2012 season marked the 11th time that Harris-Champer has led a Bulldog softball squad to the NCAA postseason and the sixth time that Georgia advanced to a NCAA Super Regional. With a record of 45-17 that included a 17-11 mark in the SEC, the 2012 squad spent the majority of the season ranked among the top-15 team in the nation and earned 13 wins over team ranked in the top-25. In the NCAA Tournament, Georgia was awarded the 10th overall national seed. The Bulldogs swept the NCAA Athens Regional field, marking the sixth time that the team has claimed a regional title and advanced to the Knoxville Super Regional. Harris-Champer coached Kristyn Sandberg to First Team All-SEC honors, while Erin Arevalo was named to the All-SEC second team and Paige Wilson earned a spot on the SEC All-Freshman team. In addition to conference honors, Sandberg and Arevalo earned All-American status, with Sandberg appearing on the second team and Arevalo earning a spot on the third team.
Harris-Champer’s 2011 team posted a 51-14 overall record and advancing to the NCAA Super Regional round of play. In SEC play, the Bulldogs went 17-9 and finished third in the Eastern Division and also made a run in the SEC Tournament advancing to the championship game. Georgia spent four weeks during the 2011 season ranked No. 1 in the USA Today/National Fastpitch Coaches Association poll and one week atop the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll, which marked the first No. 1 rankings in school history. Harris-Champer led three Bulldogs to All-American honors, as Alisa Goler and Megan Wiggins were selected to the Louisville Slugger/NFCA All-America Second Team. Goler and Taylor Schlopy were named Lowe’s Senior CLASS All-Americans, while Goler was a Top 25 Finalist for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Award.
In 2010, Harris-Champer’s Georgia squad posted a 50-13 overall record advancing to the WCWS where they went 2-2 and reached the final four. In SEC play, the Bulldogs went 18-8 and finished second in the Eastern Division. In the final rankings of the 2010 season, the Bulldogs were ranked No. 3 in the USA Today/NFCA poll and No. 4 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll. Under Harris-Champer’s guidance, Goler and Schlopy earned second-team Louisville Slugger/NFCA All-America honors, while Schlopy also garnered ESPN.com All-America recognition and was named a top 25 finalist for the 2010 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Award.
In 2009, Harris-Champer’s Bulldogs were tabbed the Easton Sports, Inc., Team of the Year after going 47-12 and advancing to their first-ever Women’s College World Series appearance, where they went 3-2 and were one of the final four teams standings. The Bulldogs finished the year with NCAA statistics rankings of first in fielding percentage (.981), second in slugging percentage (.574), fourth in home runs per game (1.44), sixth in scoring (6.32 runs per game) and 10th in batting average (.319). In SEC play, the Bulldogs went 18-7 to finish second in the Eastern Division and third overall. Georgia tied for the league lead in triples with 17 and its national-leading fielding percentage was the third-best in SEC history. Georgia finished the season ranked fourth in both the USA Today/NFCA and ESPN.com/USA Softball final polls. Goler and Schlopy were named first-team All-Americans. Goler was also a USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year top 10 finalist, and Schlopy was chosen to the USA Softball Japan Cup Team and helped the Americans win Gold.
In 2008, the Georgia softball program finished with an overall record of 46-24, an SEC mark of 14-14 (3rd Eastern Division) and advanced to the Super Regional round of the NCAA Softball Championship. With an 18-player roster consisting of fifty percent freshmen and 12 underclassmen, the prospect of what to expect from the onset of the season was uncertain. The Bulldogs finished the season ranked No. 17 by USA Today/NFCA and No. 18 by ESPN.com/USA Softball. Harris-Champer recorded and surpassed 600 collegiate career coaching victories in 2008 as well as achieving and surpassing 400 wins at Georgia in her eight seasons with the team.
The Bulldogs concluded their 2007 campaign with an appearance in the championship game of the NCAA Lincoln Regional. The Bulldogs posted a 46-28 overall record and a 13-15 mark in conference action. Kellie Middleton became a two-time All-American after earning Second Team honors from Easton, which marked the sixth-consecutive year in which a Bulldog earned All-America honors.
Harris-Champer and the Bulldogs captured their third Southeastern Conference Eastern Division title en route to posting its fifth consecutive season of 54 or more wins in 2006. Overall, UGA tallied a 54-15 overall record and earned a berth in the NCAA Regionals. Harris-Champer secured her 500th career win on April 2 with a victory over Ole Miss. At the conclusion of the season, Georgia also set a school record after three student-athletes (Kellie Middleton, Jessica Doucette and Megan McAllister) earned All-America distinctions in 2006.
The 2005 season proved to be a record-setting campaign for the Bulldogs as they earned their second conference championship in three years while appearing in the championship game of an NCAA Super Regional. Under the direction of Harris-Champer, Georgia posted a 26-4 record in Southeastern Conference play, tying the second-best mark in conference history. Michelle Green and Kim Wendland were named Louisville Slugger/NFCA and Easton All-Americans at the conclusion of the 2005 season. Harris-Champer tallied her second SEC Coach of the Year honor as well.
The Bulldogs concluded the 2004 season with an appearance in the championship game of a NCAA Regional. The Bulldogs finished the season in the top-20 in several national statistics, including a third-place finish in team batting average (.329), six-place ranking in fielding percentage (.974) and a seventh-place finish in runs per game (5.72).
In 2003, the Bulldogs clinched the program’s first SEC crown and earned its second consecutive appearance in the NCAA Regionals, capturing two wins in the tournament. At the conclusion of the 2003 season the Bulldogs led the SEC in 18 categories and were second in five more. Georgia tied two NCAA records, four SEC records and established 35 new Georgia records.
Harris-Champer took Georgia to its first-ever NCAA Softball Tournament in 2002, compiling a 59-17 record. The 59 wins ranked as the second-best in the nation in 2002. Harris-Champer and the Bulldogs started their season with a 24-game winning streak. By the end of the regular season, Georgia had finished second in both the Southeastern Conference Eastern Division and the Conference Tournament. Nicole Barber and Kim Wendland became Georgia’s first two All-Americans in softball and were also named First Team All-SEC. Barber became the NCAA record holder for consecutive steals with 73.
In 2001, Harris-Champer helped Georgia to a 33-win season while setting several team records along the way. She also picked up sweeps against Georgia Tech and Florida, and taking two of three from Tennessee.
Prior to her time at Georgia, Harris-Champer spent three seasons as the head coach at Southern Miss where she led the Lady Eagles to two Women’s College World Series appearances. For her efforts in the 1999 season, Harris-Champer was named the 1999 South Region Coach of the Year. In addition to her honors, Southern Miss pitcher Courtney Blades won the 2000 Honda Broderick Award as the nation’s top player.
In 1997, Harris-Champer served as head coach of the Orlando Wahoos of the Women’s Pro Fastpitch League. She led Orlando to a 60-13 record and earned Coach of the Year honors after guiding her team to regular-season and tournament titles.
Harris-Champer was head coach at Nicholls State in 1996 and 1997, leading the school to impressive records of 46-19 and 48-23, respectively. She also helped the team to a pair of NCAA Regional berths, a Southland Conference regular-season and tournament championship, as well as the finals of the NCAA Regional. Harris was tabbed 1996 Southland Conference and South Region Coach of the Year and finished third in National Coach of the Year balloting.
Prior to her stint at Nicholls, Harris-Champer spent five years as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Western Illinois. During that span, the Westerwinds were 156-98, won the 1992 Gateway Conference tournament, the 1993 Mid-Continent Conference regular season and tournament crowns and the 1996 Mid-Continent Conference West Division title.
A native of San Diego, Calif., Harris-Champer played three seasons at Western Illinois after transferring from Mesa (Calif.) Community College. She is married to Jerry Champer, the associate head coach for the six-time national championship Georgia swimming and diving team.
Lu and Jerry have three children: Twins Jenna & Emma, born Aug. 2, 2004, and Mya, born May 23, 2006.
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