Following a lengthy rain delay, the fourth-seeded Georgia softball team finally took the field on Thursday evening to face the fifth-seeded Tennessee Lady Vols in the SEC tournament. In the only upset of the event’s first day, the Bulldogs were eliminated by their division rivals from Knoxville.
Alison Owen was on the mound for the Red and Black to start the first inning. Although she struck out the first batter she faced, Owen proceeded to walk Kat Dotson, surrender a stolen base, and concede consecutive singles to Kelly Grieve and Jessica Spigner. Coupled with an error by Taylor Schlopy, this sequence of events allowed the Big Orange to score two runs ere Owen extracted groundouts from the next two Tennessee hitters.
Schlopy took one for the team at the outset of the Bulldogs’ turn at the plate, being hit by a pitch to lead off the bottom of the frame. After Megan Wiggins dropped a double into left center field, Cat Hosfield threw the wild pitch that allowed a run to score. An Alisa Goler sacrifice fly brought home another to tie the game. Brianna Hesson’s two-out home run gave Georgia the lead.
Successive singles by Kristyn Sandberg and Brittney Hubbard drove Hosfield from the hill, whereupon Ivy Renfroe took over and coaxed the lineout from Laura Trout that concluded the four-hit, three-run canto. Shelby Burchell drew a leadoff walk to start the second stanza and was replaced on the basepaths by Leah Taylor. The pinch runner took second on an Erinn Webb bunt single, advanced to third on a Melissa Brown double-play ball, and came home on the Raven Chavanne two-run shot that squared the hits at four per side and gave the Lady Vols a 4-3 lead.
Erin Arevalo took over the pitching responsibilities and proceeded to strike out Dotson. The Athenians had only a Wiggins single to show for the home half of the inning. Following a short rain delay, Grieve got the third canto underway with a double up the middle, and Spigner then drew a base on balls. The next three Lady Vols to step into the batter’s box carded outs, but two of them advanced the baserunners, enabling the Tennessee center fielder to score a run.
Ashley Razey was issued a one-out walk and replaced on the basepaths by Sara Sikes in the bottom of the frame. A Hesson groundout moved her into scoring position, but Sandberg fouled out to strand her. Chavanne’s two-out walk and subsequent stolen base in the upper half of the fourth stanza did not similarly go to waste, as a wild pitch sent the Volunteer left fielder to third and an ensuing base on balls issued to Dotson set the stage for the double steal that sent Chavanne home. Grieve flied out to end the Tennesseans’ fourth straight inning featuring a score.
A one-out Trout single in the bottom of the canto gave the Georgians a 6-5 edge in hits but did nothing to cut into their 6-3 deficit in runs, and the contest continued in that manner thereafter. Neither team scored in the fifth frame or the sixth stanza, and the game proceeded to the bottom of the seventh inning with the score unchanged. The Bulldogs tacked on an additional run in their turn at the plate to make the margin 6-4 but could not overcome the Lady Vols’ early onslaught, despite out-hitting the Big Orange 9-6.
Ivy Renfroe got the win to improve to 26-4, while Alison Owen took the loss to fall to 13-2. Megan Wiggins accounted for three of Georgia’s nine hits but did not drive in a run. The Athenians stranded six baserunners, twice as many as the Lady Vols left on the basepaths.