The ninth-ranked Georgia Bulldog softball team continued its strong play on Saturday in the 16th Annual Georgia Softball Classic with victories over UMass and Belmont at Jack Turner Stadium.
In the first game, Georgia defeated UMass, 4-0, to extend its shutout streak to an impressive five games. After a short break, Georgia took care of business against Belmont with an 8-1 victory.
"I think we just have a lot of good softball players," said associate head coach Tony Baldwin. "I think that is a recruiting philosophy, just getting people who can play good softball. Just being able to stick someone in the outfield or in the infield and we have some players who can do that. We were just taking a lot at some options to protect ourselves a little bit later down the road."
At the plate, Georgia scored 12 runs on 12 hits. Junior Mahlena O'Neal and freshman Savana Sikes each tallied three RBI on the day. Junior Alysen Febrey notched the only homerun today, a solo shot in the fourth inning of game two.
Despite the shutout streak ending at five games, the five Bulldogs on the mound did not allow an earned run in either game. The two starting pitchers, sophomore Lauren Mathis and senior Kylie Bass threw five and seven strikeouts, respectively. The Georgia pitching staff combined for 14 innings, 15 strikeouts and only allowed five hits.
#9 Georgia 4, UMass 0
Behind impressive pitching performances from Mathis and junior Mary Wilson Avant, Georgia extended their shutout streak to five games with a second-straight win over UMass. Mathis pitched four and two-thirds innings with five strikeouts to earn the win. Avant was awarded the save with two and one-thirds innings pitched and one strikeout.
The Bulldog offense started the game slow, but runs in the fourth and fifth innings secured the victory. Sikes was the key hitter for the Bulldogs, finishing the game two-for-three and two RBI.
The early part of the game was a pitcher's duel as neither team was even able to get a runner in scoring position during the first two innings of play.
The third inning was more of the same, as neither team was able to score despite two stolen bases from Jordan Doggett.
After another scoreless inning from Mathis, a two RBI triple from Sikes put the Bulldogs on the board. Georgia would proceed to tack on another run to take a 3-0 lead heading into the fifth.
With two outs in the top of the fifth inning, Avant relieved Mathis and finished off another scoreless inning. In the bottom half of the frame, the Bulldogs added another run to bring the lead to 4-0.
Following a scoreless sixth inning, Avant finished the game with a 1-2-3 inning to earn the save, clinching Georgia's 4-0 victory.
#9 Georgia 8, Belmont 1
With the combined efforts of Bass, sophomore Madison McPherson, and junior Amanda Ablan, Georgia held Belmont to just one unearned run on two hits. Bass pitched four innings and recorded a season-high seven strikeouts. McPherson and Ablan combined for three innings and two strikeouts in relief.
Offensively, Georgia used strong plate discipline and mostly small ball to score eight runs on six hits. Febrey and O'Neal supplied the power to the Bulldog offense as Febrey hit a homerun and O'Neal tacked on a two RBI double.
After a 1-2-3 inning to start the game for Bass, Georgia scored three runs to take an early 3-0 lead.
Bass struck out the side in the top of the second inning, and the Bulldog offense was also unable to score in the bottom half of the inning.
In the top of the third inning, Bass continued her no-hitter thanks to a great diving catch by Sikes. A two RBI double by O'Neal propelled Georgia to a 5-0 lead at the end of three innings.
Following another hitless half-inning by Belmont, Febrey launched a homerun to bring the lead to 6-0.
McPherson relieved Bass in the fifth inning, and she retired the side, three up, three down. In the bottom of the fifth, Georgia could not get anything going offensively and the score remained 6-0.
Belmont scored its first run off the game in the top of the sixth, but Georgia was able to tack on two runs from a two RBI single by pinch-hitter Jessica Morgan to extend the lead to 8-1 at the end of six innings of play.
Ablan entered the circle in the seventh, shutting down the Belmont offense to seal the 8-1 Bulldog victory.
Georgia makes its final appearance in the Georgia Classic Sunday, Feb. 24 at 11:30 a.m. against Belmont.