Softball: Comeback falls short
From UGA Sports Communications
During the Bulldogs’ game against Oklahoma State at the 2021 NCAA Women’s College World Series at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, Okla. on Thursday, June 3, 2021. (Photo by Tony Walsh)
OKLAHOMA CITY – The Georgia softball team fell just short in a 3-2 loss to No. 5-ranked Oklahoma State in the Bulldogs' first game of the 2021 Women's College World Series on Thursday at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium.
Down 3-1 in the final frame, the Bulldogs had runners at first and second with no outs. Following a force out at third, freshman No. 9 hitter Ellie Armistead found the gap in left-center to bring home Jaiden Fields and cut the advantage to 3-2.
A pop-up from Savana Sikes and a ground out from Sydney Kuma ended the Bulldogs' momentum and put Oklahoma State on the winner's side of the double-elimination bracket. The Cowgirls play James Madison at 7 p.m. ET Friday. Georgia goes against No. 1 Oklahoma in Saturday's elimination game at noon ET on ESPN.
OSU pitcher Carrie Eberle — who entered the Women's College World Series with a 1.41 earned run average — pitched a complete seven innings to improve her record to 26-3 this year. Georgia pitcher Mary Wilson Avant picked up her first loss of the NCAA tournament and fell to 20-11 overall.
"Mary was outstanding all day," Georgia head coach Lu Harris-Champer said. "The way Mary pitched and the way our defense played, we absolutely had an opportunity to get the job done in that game. When you go back and look at the game, you will see how many beautiful change-ups she threw — again, able to move the ball around the zone. I really thought she did a great job. You have to tip your hat. We are playing a good team, and they got one. That's just how it is. They had a chance to throw punches and so did we with our bats. That's just the breaks. When you are a really good pitcher and you play a really good team, sometimes that is going to happen."
Following two and a half scoreless innings to begin the game, Oklahoma State's Chyenne Factor delivered a two-out, two-run home run to give her squad the lead going into the fourth. That homer ended a 26-inning scoreless streak for Avant.
Georgia tried to rally in the fifth with a leadoff single from Jayda Kearney, before Sydney Chambley reached first base on a fielder's choice. Fields was then hit by a pitch to set the Bulldogs up with runners at first and second and just one out. Payden Bordeau delivered an in-field hit, but Chambley was thrown out at home to halt the Georgia momentum.
Down 2-0, Avant secured a 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the fifth, with the top of the order due up for the Bulldogs in the sixth.
Kuma recorded Georgia's fourth hit of the day with just one out in the sixth stanza. Kuma then advanced to second on a groundout from Lacey Fincher, before No. 4-hitter Sara Mosley took a 1-2 pitch and delivered a single that drove in Kuma and cut OSU's lead to 2-1.
The Cowgirls got insurance in the bottom of the sixth. Kiley Naomi advanced to second following her single and then a sacrifice from Factor. Alysen Febrey then hit an Avant pitch right back up the middle to drive in Naomi and give the Cowgirls a 3-1 advantage.
It was up to the six, seven and eight hitters in the top of the seventh for the Bulldogs. Chambley reached on a fielding error by Febrey to bring the tying run to the plate. Fields stayed alive and hit a pitch back up the middle to put runners at first and second with no outs. Armistead delivered an RBI off an 0-2 pitch, but it was not enough in the loss.
Georgia is playing in its fifth Women's College World Series. The Bulldogs now face an Oklahoma team they split a series with during a doubleheader on April 20.