ATHENS, Ga. - The University of Georgia softball team split a pair of games on the second day of the 18th Annual Georgia Classic at Jack Turner Stadium Saturday.
Georgia mounted a comeback in the first game of the day against Longwood but fell short 3-2. The Bulldogs bounced back with a six-inning run rule win over Kent State, 11-3.
Longwood 3, Georgia 2
Senior Lauren Mathis (0-1) started in the circle for the Bulldogs in game one. Mathis completed six innings for the Bulldogs with six strikeouts, giving up three runs in the loss. Freshman Madison Kerpics pitched the final inning in relief, striking out all three batters she faced.
The Bulldogs out-hit the Lancers 4-3. Two of Georgia's four hits came from sophomore leadoff hitter Sydney Kuma who also drove in a run.
Lauren Taylor put the Lancers out in front in the top of the third inning, driving in a run on a bunt single to second base, Longwood's first hit of the weekend. The Lancers extended the lead on a sac fly lined to left, 2-0 Longwood.
Georgia got one run back in the bottom half of the third when Kuma drove in freshman Jayda Kearney on a base hit poked through the left side, 2-1 Lancers.
Another RBI bunt for a hit widened Londwood's lead in the top of the sixth to 3-1.
Senior Mackenzie Puckett got the Bulldogs off to a strong start in the seventh with a home run in the Bulldogs' first at bat of the seventh inning, cutting the lead to one. Sydney Backstorm entered for the Lancers in the circle and was able to hold off the Bulldogs to finish the 3-2 win.
Georgia 11, Kent State 3 (6 inn.)
Graduate pitcher Mary Wilson Avant started in the circle for the Bulldogs and was relieved by Kerpics who was credited with the first win of her career to become 1-0 on the season. Both pitched three complete innings with three strikeouts.
Freshman Sydney Chambley and Kuma led the offensive effort for the Bulldogs both recording four RBI and two home runs. Both were career bests for the Bulldogs. Coming off a four-hit game on Friday, junior Lacey Fincher went 3-for-4 in Saturday's second game including a home run.
The Golden Flashes began their season strong by plating three first inning runs on the Bulldogs to jump out to a very early 3-0 lead.
The Bulldogs mounted a big inning by hanging up six runs in the bottom of the third. With bases loaded, Chambley drove in Fincher on a fielder's choice to put Georgia on the board, 3-1. A triple off the wall in center by Kearney plated two more and knotted the game at 3-3. Later in the inning, Kuma blasted a three-run shot to center, giving the Bulldogs a 6-3 lead.
Fincher led off the bottom of the fourth with a home run of her own to bring the Georgia lead to four. Chambley later joined the home run fun with a two-run blast to left center, 9-3.
Kuma knocked her second home run of the game to lead off the fifth, 10-3.
Chamblee clinched the run-rule win for the Bulldogs in the bottom half of the sixth with a walk-off home run, her second of the game, to defeat Kent State 11-3 in six innings.
Georgia and Kent State will face off again Sunday at 2 p.m. to close the 18th Annual Georgia Classic at Jack Turner Stadium.
Georgia Head Coach Lu Harris-Champer
On bouncing back in the second game...
"I think the main thing was coming out and competing. We were not sticking to our plan in the first game. We need to let the ball get deeper. We can't just go out and get it. We need to let it get to us. I think we did a good job adjusting on that. In the second game, being aware of the location of pitches and what's being called and what's not.
On Madison Kerpics' performance...
"I thought she was outstanding. It was fun to see her come out and do what she does every single day in practice. It was just fun to see her compete. She has such a beautiful changeup and really good movement on her other pitches, so it's just fun to see her get out there, get the ball, and want the ball. I do think Mary [Wilson Avant] did a great job for us too getting through the lineup twice. They came out swinging. They came out playing hard, and she settled in, did a really good job, and then we decided to go with another look after they had seen her twice. It was fun to see Madison [Kerpics] come in and get a lot of outs for us."
On having multiple players get hits...
"You have to be able to pass the bat. It has to be able to go from one hitter, to the next hitter, to the next hitter. You can't have any soft outs. You have to put the ball in play. [Sydney] Kuma was a stud all day today. I'm really proud of her for getting her swing on. She made good adjustments after her second at bat and had really pretty barrel life on the ball. I thought Sydney Chambley had a good game as well with a two-bomb day. Lacey [Fincher] was on base all day. Sara [Mosley] took her walks. We talk about passing the bat, and you can't just swing at everything. If you need to take a walk, take a walk, and let the next person finish the job. I'm proud of the offense today."
Sophomore Sydney Kuma
On second game mentality after disappointing loss...
"I think it was just switching our mind set, knowing that we have to compete every single at bat, every single hit. It was just really flipping our mindset and getting it going."
On coaches' message to team after first game...
"She wanted us to fight. I mean I struck out two at bats in that game, and Coach Tony tried to pull me aside he knows that I'm a ball player and know how to get myself out of those situations, so I had to flip my mindset really quickly. That's how I was successful at the end."