ATHENS, Ga. - The No. 10 Georgia softball team defeated No. 16 Kentucky Saturday afternoon, 9-5, at Jack Turner Stadium. With the win, Georgia has won its eighth 9straight Southeastern Conference game as the Bulldogs improve to 8-1 in SEC play.
The Bulldogs climb to 28-6 on the season. Georgia has won 10 straight games.
Georgia's offense narrowly out-hit Kentucky in the game, 9-8. Sydney Kuma highlighted the day, hitting a grand slam in the first inning. Kuma, along with Sara Mosley and Jaiden Fields all had two hits while Lyndi Rae Davis joined Kuma and Fields in leaving the yard.
Madison Kerpics (11-4) worked four innings in her start, allowing four earned runs on six hits. She struck out three and walked three. Shelby Walters earned a three-inning save, her third save of the season, working the final three innings, allowing no runs on two hits while striking out five Wildcats.
Georgia put together a two-out rally in the first to go ahead in the contest. With one on and two out, Fields lined a base hit to right. Davis followed with a walk to load the bases. Kuma stepped in and blasted a grand slam to right center, her second slam of the season, to put the Bulldogs in front 4-0.
A two-out error in center extended the top of the second. The Wildcats (21-8-1, 4-3) capitalized on the free runner with a single through the right side to push in a run, 4-1. The run ended Georgia's scoreless inning streak at 25 innings.
Kentucky's Grace Lorsung knocked a two-out RBI double to right in the top of the third to cut Georgia's lead in half, 4-2.
Another four spot in the third extended Georgia's lead to six. The scoring began with a two-run home run off the bat of Fields. Davis followed with a home run of her own, a monster shot over the trees in right. Kuma pulled up at second with a double to left center then immediately scored on a base hit from Sydney Chambley to go ahead 8-2.
The Wildcats pushed three two-out runs in the fourth to whittle away at Georgia's lead, 8-5.
With Dallis Goodnight on first in the bottom of the sixth, Sara Mosley singled to left. On the play, throwing errors from the left fielder and right fielder allowed Goodnight to score and bring Georgia's lead back to four, 9-5.
A one-out error in the top of the seventh put a Wildcat on. Walters concluded the game, inducing a 1-6-3 double play to end the contest.
Quotes from head coach Tony Baldwin
On Saturday's performance... "We competed well. We had a couple of pretty good innings where we strung some at bats together. All in all, I think we can play better on the pitching and defensive side - maybe clean up some of the free bases. That's what created the stress. I don't think we did a very good job of getting the shutdown inning after we scored, those are some of the things that we talked about; tomorrow we'll try and do a little bit better. But with the conditions and the opening (game of the) series where you're trying to feel out each team, I'm proud of the way that we competed and handled our business. We'll take the win every time."
On the crowd... "It turned out to be a beautiful day. I'm thankful that they were patient because the weather was kind of nasty this morning. To just see a full house out here on an SEC Saturday doesn't get any better than that."
Game Two of the series is set for Sunday evening at 6 p.m. ET at Jack Turner Stadium. Sunday's game will air live on SEC Network.