The University of Georgia softball team defeated nationally-seeded No. 13 Duke Sunday afternoon, 10-9, to win the NCAA Athens Regional.
Georgia advances to its 11th Super Regional appearance in program history and will look to make its fifth appearance in the Women’s College World Series. Georgia will travel to Gainesville, Florida next weekend to face No. 4 Florida. Georgia is 2-1 all-time against the Gators in the NCAA Tournament. 2021 will be the second time Georgia has traveled to Gainesville in the Super Regional round. In 2016, Georgia swept the top-ranked Gators en route to Oklahoma City.
The Bulldogs (32-21) recorded 13 total hits. Seven different Bulldogs recorded hits, with five recording multiple hits in Sunday’s game. Freshman Sydney Chambley tied a season-high with three hits, driving in two runs, including the game-winner in the sixth. Junior Savana Sikes finished with two hits but was on base four times Sunday. She scored all four times, registering a new career-high run count. Sophomores Sydney Kuma and Sara Mosley each drove in three runs, combining for six of Georgia’s 10.
In the circle, freshman Britton Rogers worked four complete innings in her start. She allowed seven unearned runs on two Bulldog errors. Senior Lauren Mathis worked one inning in relief, allowing two runs. Graduate Mary Wilson Avant (18-8) picked up the win in relief, pitching the final two innings while not allowing a run or hit.
Georgia capitalized on a pair of free baserunners following a hit batsman and a one-out walk in the bottom of the first. Freshman Jayda Kearney ripped a two-out double to center to drive in Sikes and put the Bulldogs ahead, 1-0, in the opening stanza.
Duke rallied for a trio of runs in the top of the third. An error on a bunt play put Blue Devils in scoring position. A comebacker to the circle allowed Duke to push one run in and tie the game at one all. Caroline Jacobson got a single to fall just fair down the left field line, allowing two more runs to score and putting Duke in front, 3-1.
Like the first inning, Georgia took advantage of a pair of free passes to begin the third inning. Mosley then put the Bulldogs back in front with a three-run home run to center, 4-3. The homer was her sixth of the season and first of the postseason.
The Blue Devils rebounded in the top of the fourth by pushing across four runs, three from a bases-clearing double off the bat of Gisele Tapia, to go back in front, 7-4. All four runs in the inning were unearned.
A pair of singles off the bat of freshman Ellie Armistead and Sikes put runners on the corners for the Bulldogs in the bottom of the inning. A single down the right field line by Kuma plated Armistead, 7-5. A wild pitch then allowed Sikes to touch home and slice the Duke lead to 7-6.
Kristina Foreman hit a two-run home run in the top of the fifth off Mathis to retake a three-run lead, 9-6.
Chambley cut the lead to two with a leadoff home run in the bottom of the inning, 9-7. It was her second home run of the postseason. Later in the inning, sophomore Jaiden Fields and Sikes went back-to-back with two-out singles and entered scoring position on a wild pitch. Kuma knotted the game with a single back up the middle, plating both runners, 9-9.
On a day that featured a number of defensive highlights and big hits from Chambley, it was the freshman again as she drove in Kearney with a single to left in the bottom of the sixth to go ahead 10-9.
Avant worked around a leadoff walk in the seventh, retiring the next three batters to punch Georgia’s ticket to the Super Regional round.
Dates of the NCAA Gainesville Super Regional will be announced later.