SOFTBALL: Dawgs Run Rule WKU on Sydney Chambley’s Walk-Off Grand Slam

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SOFTBALL: Dawgs Run Rule WKU on Sydney Chambley’s Walk-Off Grand Slam

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The University of Georgia softball team blasted three home runs, including two from junior Lacey Fincher and a walk-off grand slam by freshman Sydney Chambley, to run-rule Western Kentucky, 11-3, in the opening round of the NCAA Athens Regional Friday.

The Bulldogs and Hilltoppers each scattered eight hits. Fincher went 2-for-3 with two home runs. She scored three times and drove in five runs. Sophomore Sara Mosley also picked up two hits. Chambley’s lone hit was the walk off grand slam. 





Graduate Mary Wilson Avant (16-10) worked five complete innings in her start. She struck out two Hilltoppers, allowing all three of their runs. Freshman Britton Rogers tossed a scoreless inning in relief. She entered when Georgia (30-21) was ahead 5-3 and picked up her second save of the season.  





A leadoff walk to begin the game came in to score on a double to left-center off the bat of Kennedy Sullivan to put Western Kentucky (31-14) on the board early, 1-0. 

Back-to-back walks opened Georgia’s half of the first. Fincher capitalized on the situation, hitting a three-run home run to center and putting the Bulldogs ahead, 3-1. The homer was Fincher’s 13th of the season, tying her for the team lead. Georgia eventually drew five walks in the opening frame. 

WKU scratched across a run in the top of the fourth to cut the Bulldogs’ lead to one, 3-2. Avant was able to preserve the lead in the inning by stranding runners in scoring position, but Taylor Sanders erased Georgia’s advantage in the top of the fifth with an RBI single to left to knot the game at three-all. 

Fincher’s second home run, a two-run shot to right, put Georgia back in the lead, 5-3, in the bottom of the fifth. 

The Dawgs plated six in the bottom of the sixth en route to the victory. An RBI double off the bat of senior pinch hitter Mackenzie Puckett put Georgia in front 6-3. Mosley’s second hit of the game drove in fellow sophomore Sydney Kuma to make it 7-3. A walk to freshman Jayda Kearney loaded the bases before Chambley rocketed one into the trees in right-center to run-rule the Hilltoppers in six innings, 11-3. 

The grand slam was Georgia’s third of the season and first in the career of Chambley. 

Georgia will face No. 13 Duke Saturday at noon. The winner will secure a spot in Sunday’s Regional final. WKU and UNCG will square off at 2:30 p.m. in the first consolation game. 

Head Coach Lu Harris-Champer
Opening Statement…
“I was just really proud of the team and our fight today. I think we came out and had a good process. We were able to string a lot of good at bats together. We did some good things on defense. Mary [Wilson Avant] gave us a great start. During the game, I was really proud of the offense for, again, stringing together good at bats together with the process for the entire game. I thought that Britton [Rogers] came in and closed it out really well in the sixth, had a lot of composure and really good stuff on the ball.”

On getting a spark from a strong offensive game…
“I know that the hitters have been working really hard. We’ve had some time to be home and practice. Sydney Kuma took advantage of that, got really good pitches today. She took her walks. I think it’s a big deal when you take your walks, then you get better pitches to hit. I thought Lacey [Fincher] was absolutely clutch. She was able to swing it well. They’ve been working really hard since we got back from the conference tournament, and it’s showing off. It’s showing up. I’m just really proud of them for freeing it up and working their process. Again, it’s about passing the bat. Sara [Mosley] was strong behind Lacey [Fincher]. They walked her, and she was able to get a two-out single, which is a big deal working behind the runners. Then, Jayda [Kearney] and Chambley comes through with the big hit to finish the game. They’ve been working really hard, and we just have to continue with that mindset of freeing it up and getting our swings on.”

On the nine walks during the game…
“I think it makes a huge difference. I think if you swing at pitches out of the zone, then you don’t get good pitches to hit. We were able to be disciplined with that, which is a big deal.”

Lacey Fincher
On having two home runs during the game…
“We’ve just been working our process all week, ever since we got back from the conference tournament. We had some really good days, where we’re just figuring out our swing and going back to step one, just loosening it up a little bit. Today, I got in the box and thought about competing, so I got my pitch to hit and put a good swing on it.”

On the momentum from her first home run…
“One of the big things is that Savana [Sikes] and Sydney [Kuma] both took their walks, and that put me up in a position where I would get a good pitch to hit. I took the first pitch, a strike, and felt what she was pitching. The next ball, I was able to get my swing on, and that does free up momentum for myself, just seeing the pitch and feeling the pitch. I was just trying to know what they were throwing me.”

On momentum heading into tomorrow…
“I think it’s great. I think with all the walks we had today, we’re really seeing the ball. We had a bunch of hard hits. That last ball that Sydney [Chambley] hit up the middle was smoke. If she would have gotten any lift on that ball, it would have been way out of here. It’s just continuing to keep fighting the fight and getting your pitch to hit. It’s you against the pitcher the whole at bat.”

On the feeling of hitting the ball so well today…
“It’s a joy. You’re just looking for someone to throw it down the middle. If it’s not there, it’s no and then yes, yes, yes. There it is.”

Sydney Chambley
On hitting the walk-off home run…
“Honestly, it just felt good for my team. I felt like they had picked me up all day, and they had done their jobs. For me to have an opportunity to do my job in return was an honor.

On how memorable the home run was…
“That was probably to most memorable, just rounding third base and seeing their faces, having them all so excited. That is a picture that will forever live in my memory.”

On what pitch she was looking for at bat…
“I’m pretty sure it was an inside changeup, but I was just ready that first pitch. I love first pitch, so I was just ready because all of my teammates had done their job to get on when I came up, so I was ready to do mine.”

Sydney Kuma
On seeing Lacey Fincher’s success at bat…
“I knew that ball was gone once I heard it come off the bat. I always have to make sure to tag, so Coach doesn’t get mad at me. I could just feel the joy for her. I was excited for her. That was a big moment for her and this team, and even when she came up to bat next time and hit another one out, I was just really excited for her. I wanted to do my part to get on before her, so it does give her more momentum to do those big things.”

On the how the game impacted the team’s confidence…
“I definitely think it’s going to build the team’s confidence. Going into today’s game, we had a rough ten games before. We had to learn how to build confidence from celebrating the small things, even if you got out, at least you hit the ball, at least you got it to where you want it to be. I think this is really going to build our confidence to win the series.”

On Sydney Chambley’s home run…
“You can’t get anything better than that. We were all calling it in the dugout. Sydney is Sydney. She’s going to do her thing.





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