ATHENS, Ga. - The 17th-ranked Georgia Bulldogs softball team swept UNCW and Howard in the final day of the Red & Black Showcase to finish opening weekend undefeated.
Georgia (5-0) defeated the UNCW Seahawks (1-3), 10-2, in five innings with a walk-off three-run home run to start the day. Immediately following, the Bulldogs shut out the Howard Bison (0-5), 8-0, in six innings.
No. 17 Georgia 10, UNCW 2 (5 inn.)
Senior Mary Wilson Avant (2-0) worked the complete game in the circle for the Bulldogs, marking her first complete game of the season and the 17th of her career. In her outing, Avant struck out seven and allowed two runs on three hits. While she allowed a two-run home run in the top of the first, she shutout the Seahawks for the remainder of the game.
Offensively, Georgia produced 10 runs on 11 hits. At the plate, it was senior Ciara Bryan and junior Mackenzie Puckett who stepped up for the Bulldogs with a pair of three-run home runs. Other Georgia players with notable performances included freshman Sara Mosley and redshirt-freshman Jaiden Fields who each tallied one RBI. In the lead off position, junior Jacqui Switzer went two-for-three while senior Jordan Doggett also had a two-for-three outing.
UNCW jumped out to an early 2-0 lead off a two-run home run over the centerfield wall in the top of the first. In the bottom of the frame, Mosley drove in Georgia's first run of the day thanks to a single to centerfield. Georgia entered the top of the second trailing, 2-1.
Senior catcher Mahlena O'Neal threw out a would-be base stealer to keep UNCW scoreless in the top of the second. Neither team scored in the second or third inning of play with the score remaining 2-1 in favor of the Seahawks.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Bulldogs loaded the bases with no outs. An RBI single from Fields drove in the tying run. After O'Neal advanced the runners, senior Justice Milz reached on an error, scoring two runs and giving Georgia its first lead of the game, 4-2.
With two outs and two on, Bryan drilled a home run over the left center wall to extend the Bulldogs' lead to five, 7-2, entering the fifth.
Pinch hitter Puckett called game with a three-run home run in the bottom of the fifth. Georgia defeated UNCW by a final score of 10-2 in five innings of play.
No. 17 Georgia 8, Howard 0 (6 inn.)
Junior Lauren Mathis (3-0) was granted the start in the circle, pitching three innings before senior Alley Cutting entered the game. The pair combined to one-hit the Bison. In Mathis' three innings pitched, she tallied five strikeouts, allowing no runs on only one hit. Cutting finished the final three innings for the Bulldogs, allowing no runs, no hits, while striking out four. Neither pitcher surrendered a walk.
Bryan continued to come up big at the plate, dropping her second three-run home run of the day. Sophomore Lacey Fincher knocked a solo home run, her first of the season. Puckett drove in the winning run off an RBI single for the second-straight game. Junior Tyler Armistead was the other Bulldog to record an RBI, posting two as a result of her single to right field.
Georgia produced a three-run bottom of the first with the Armistead single driving in two to gain the early 3-0 advantage.
After holding Howard scoreless through two, Bryan produced her second three-run home run of the day. Immediately following, Fincher drilled one over the centerfield wall to push the Bulldogs ahead, 7-0.
Mathis worked two-straight three-up, three-down innings to secure the 7-0 Georgia lead heading into the bottom of the third.
Innings three through six saw little action, neither team able to put up a run. In the bottom of the sixth, a bunt for a hit by sophomore CJ Landrum put the go-ahead run on base. It was Puckett yet again who drove in the game-winning run, this time with a double to left field, solidifying Georgia's 8-0 victory over Howard.
Georgia travels to in-state rival Georgia State to take on the Panthers Wednesday, Feb. 12 at 5 p.m.