ATHENS, Ga. - The 16th-ranked Georgia Bulldogs run ruled the Ole Miss Rebels Friday evening at Jack Turner Stadium in six innings, 9-1.
With the win, Georgia climbs to 40-13 on the season and 12-10 in SEC play. This is Georgia's 18th 40-win season in program history.
Sophomore Jayda Kearney paced the Bulldogs' offense, scattering a career-best four hits in the game. She drove in four runs including the winning run in the sixth inning to run rule the Rebels. Senior Lacey Fincher contributed two hits.
The offense blasted two home runs in the game, moving closer
Sophomore Madison Kerpics (18-7) went the distance in the circle for Georgia. She allowed one run on four hits, striking out seven Rebel batters.
A leadoff single put Kearney on base in the second inning. Good base running saw Kearney steal second then take third on a groundout to third off the bat of Jaiden Fields. She came in to score on an infield single from Mackenzie Puckett to go ahead 1-0. Savana Sikes launched her second home run of the season off the videoboard in left field, a two-run shot, to go ahead 3-0 in the second.
RBI base hits from Lacey Fincher and Fields plated two more runs in the third inning for the Bulldogs, widening the lead to 5-0.
A three-run home run to right off the bat of Kearney made it an 8-0 game for the Dogs in the bottom of the fourth.
Ole Miss (36-16, 10-12) evaded the five-inning run rule with a single run in the top of the fifth, giving life to the game, 8-1. Kerpics' one-hit shutout was broken in the inning.
The bottom of the sixth began with a leadoff walk to Sydney Kuma. She advanced to third on a single off the wall in right from Sara Mosley. Kearney's fourth hit found the four-hole as Kuma scored, ending the game in six innings, 9-1.
Game two of the series is set for 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Jack Turner Stadium. The game will air nationally on SEC Network. Fans are encouraged to come early to honor senior student-athletes prior to first pitch.
Head Coach Tony Baldwin
On his message to the team after the game... "I'm just proud of them. I thought we were resilient, and we executed well. We did a lot of the things that we talked about in practice. I thought we got some breaks in the game to go our way early; a couple balls that we didn't hit great found a way through. Sometimes you get those things, and then the key is to capitalize on them, and we did that. I thought we had some big hits- Savana Sikes' home run was a big play. Jayda [Kearney] had the big home run; 4-for-4 from her today was outstanding. I thought our defense was solid and Madison [Kerpics] really controlled things in the circle. All in all, a good day, but it's just one day and we got to go back out and try to do it again tomorrow."
On what it will take to finish the regular season with an SEC series win... "I think at the end of the day we must be the best version of ourselves tomorrow. Last weekend was last weekend. Today went our way, but tomorrow we'll have to be present, we'll have to compete, we'll have to be resilient, we'll have to do all the things that we've been talking about from the beginning of the season to get a win tomorrow. Anytime you can get an SEC series win, you know you've played awfully good softball. Everybody is good. They have a really good team and there's a lot of softball still to play this weekend."
Sophomore Jayda Kearney
On her walk-off hit... "I just wanted to stay calm, keep doing what I was doing throughout the whole game, and just get the job done. I was just happy that we got to end the game early, go to go home early, and get ready for tomorrow."
Sophomore Madison Kerpics
On how she kept momentum throughout the game... "I think from the beginning of the game, the dugout was really enthusiastic, kind of crazy. There were a lot of positive vibes today, and I think that led into the field as well. We played really well, and the defense had my back."