A three-run seventh inning lifted the sixth-ranked Georgia softball team (40-7, 13-5) to a 3-1 win over #18 Kentucky (28-15, 5-12) Sunday, securing Georgia’s sixth Southeastern Conference series win of the season.
The win secured Georgia’s 16th 40-win season as a program, all under head coach Lu Harris-Champer. Sunday’s comeback was Georgia’s fourth win when trailing after six innings this season.
Mary Wilson Avant (7-1) pitched the complete game in the circle for Georgia. She finished the week 3-0 with two wins over Kentucky and the other over USC Upstate. She allowed only one run in 18 innings, striking out 12 in three appearances.
The offense rattled off 10 hits to Kentucky’s eight. Alyssa DiCarlo, Alysen Febrey, and Ciara Bryan all had two hits in the game.
After three and a half scoreless innings, Kentucky broke the 0-0 tie in the bottom of the fourth. With runner on the corners and one out, pitcher Grace Baalman lined a base hit into center, plating the first run of the game. Kentucky loaded the bases but a force at home and a groundout to Jordan Doggett held the Wildcats to a lone run.
With their backs against the wall, down a run in the seventh, Georgia plated three runs to capture a two-run lead. Back-to-back hits by Kendall Burton and Doggett led off the inning. Bryan singled to center, plating Burton and tying the contest, 1-1. On the play, Doggett went to third and Bryan to second on the throw to the plate. Cortni Emanuel grounded to short, driving in the go-ahead run. Justice Milz followed with an infield base hit, plating Bryan and putting the Bulldogs ahead by two, 3-1. DiCarlo doubled in the inning, her second hit of the game.
Avant worked a three-up, three-down inning in the bottom of the seventh to secure the series.
Up next, Georgia hosts Alabama in the final home series of the season at Jack Turner Stadium next weekend. The series opens Friday at 6 p.m.
Head Coach Lu Harris-Champer
On the offense’s two-strike approach in the seventh…
“I can’t say enough about our team in the seventh inning. We had four at-bats in a row with two strikes to not only get one on but get them over and get on with an RBI then another RBI with two strikes; that’s outstanding right there. I’m so proud of the hitters for putting things together.”
On Mary Wilson Avant’s performance on the weekend…
“She is smart, hardworking, and all the intangibles you want in a player. When you put her in and [Mahlena O’Neal] behind the plate and they work as a team, they’re incredible.”
On Cortni Emanuel’s defensive performance…
“Phenomenal. You could hear the crowd get excited and then they weren’t because she makes really hard plays look easy.
Senior Cortni Emanuel
On executing what the team works on in practice…
“We worked so hard this past week coming off our bye week, so we worked hard coming out here and making the defensive plays, getting after it on offense, and making the big pitches. I think we executed and I think that was great.”
On believing in the team going into the seventh inning…
“This team just has belief. The whole game we just knew we were going to come out on top. That seventh inning being down, coach said there were three or four batters in that last inning with two strikes, so we dug in and had the grit, the fight and belief to go out there and get it done.”