2001 Softball Season Recap
In Coach Lu Harris' first year behind the wheel of the Georgia softball program, the Bulldogs recorded one of the most successful seasons in the program's history. Not only did the Bulldogs finish with an overall record of 33-26, the second-most wins in the five years of Georgia softball, but the club wrapped up 2001 on a tear, bringing hopes for an even better season in 2002.
The teams in the SEC - Georgia and nationally ranked LSU and Alabama - ended the regular season winning 12 of their last 14 games. In that stretch, Georgia swept rivals Georgia Tech and Florida and took two of three from Tennessee. Georgia hit .305 as a team during the 14 games with 20 extra-base hits, not to mention 11 complete-games by the pitching staff. It was just the second time in five seasons a Georgia team won 12 of 14 at any time during the season.
"The season ended on a really high note," said Harris, whose club didn't have any seniors. "Defensively, we have become a strong unit and we are starting to hit the ball more consistently. We started hitting the ball out front for power and learning how to close out games."
Several individuals highlighted the 2001 campaign, but none more than freshman pitcher Nicole Barber. She set six new offensive records for the Bulldogs and tied for a seventh, using her speed and quickness to dazzle the Southeastern Conference in her first year.
Barber's blazing speed helped her to 56 stolen bases in 59 attempts, good for a new conference and Georgia record. Her .414 batting average is a new Georgia record by 60 points and she led the conference in hits during the regular season with 79. She led the team with 17 two-out RBI, had 26 multi-hit games, and closed the season on a 12 game hit streak. Ten of the 12 games in Barber's streak were multi-hit games. Additionally, her .978 fielding percentage is the highest ever for a Georgia centerfielder.
Barber's accomplishments earned her post-season recognition as she became the first Bulldog since Jessi Cerra to be named to the All-SEC Second Team and the All-Southeast Region First Team.
"Barber is an offensive powerhouse," Harris said. "She can get on with a deep hit or she can lay down the bunt. When the game is on the line, she gets it done."
Barber was joined by Michelle Tyree and Julie Milner in the stolen base department, as the three finished in the top seven among the conference leaders. Georgia's 134 total steals ranks third on the all-time SEC list.
Tyree moved to second on Georgia's career triples list last season with six, and the sophomore hit two home runs in one day at the Fiesta Bowl Classic. Her longest hitting streak of the season was six games and she closed out the season stealing 10 bases in her last 11 attempts. Milner batted .370 over the Bulldogs' final 14 games, including her first career home run on the final day of the season.
Behind the plate, Georgia got a boost from sophomore Julie Raiskums, who, along with Milner, was one of 10 players in the SEC to finish conference play with a 1.000 fielding percentage. She had no passed balls in SEC contests and finished the regular season No. 3 with 15 runners caught stealing.
When Raiskums needed a breather, utility player Shannon McKeon filled in. McKeon played every infield position except pitcher in 2001 and threw out eight runners.