The third-ranked Red and Black softball team, still smarting from a weekend sweep suffered at the hands of the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide, traveled to Gainesville to take on the second-ranked Orange and Blue squad in the hated Gators’ lair. In a hard-hitting contest that was not settled until the final at bat, the Bulldogs emerged victorious.
The scoring started in the top of the first inning when left fielder Megan Wiggins drew a two-out walk on four straight pitches, advanced to third on a single by third baseman Alisa Goler, and scored on another base hit by right fielder Brianna Hesson. Neither team pushed a run across home plate in the next three and a half stanzas, as starting pitcher Alison Owen held the Gators to two hits through four frames.
The fireworks began in the fifth canto, starting with a leadoff walk drawn by second baseman Ashley Pauly in the top of the inning. A first-pitch double by Wiggins and a free pass issued to Goler loaded the bases. Though a pair of baserunners were cut down at home on fielder’s choices, wild pitches and a first-pitch double by center fielder Taylor Schlopy allowed the Athenians to turn four hits into five runs.
The Orange and Blue answered in the home half of the canto, using six hits (three of which were home runs) to score six runs and tie the game. Florida took the lead in the bottom of the sixth stanza when first baseman Megan Bush led off the Sunshine State Saurians’ turn at the plate with a home run for the second straight frame. In the top of the seventh inning, Florida extracted an out from the first Bulldog to step into the batter’s box. Needing only two outs to card the win, the Gators surrendered a game-tying home run to Schlopy and a double to Pauly before securing the second out of the inning.
After Goler was intentionally walked, Hesson sent a three-run shot to center field, moving Georgia back out in front before a first-pitch groundout brought the Orange and Blue back up to bat. Morgan Montemayor retired the first Gator batter before plunking the second and walking the third to bring the would-be tying run to the plate. Bush, who had hit a pair of home runs already in the game, turned an 0-2 pitch into a game-ending double play.
The Bulldogs built up a 6-0 lead before falling behind, then they responded to adversity by scoring four runs in their final opportunity to avoid a fourth straight SEC setback. The Classic City Canines earned the victory, playing mistake-free softball in the field and out-hitting the Sunshine State Saurians by a 12-10 margin.
Confirming that chicks indeed dig the long ball, the Red and Black were led at the plate by Brianna Hesson (2 for 5, 4 RBI, 1 HR), Ashley Razey (2 for 4, 1 RBI), and Taylor Schlopy (2 for 4, 3 RBI, 1 HR), while starter Alison Owen fanned five and walked none before winning pitcher Morgan Montemayor took over in the circle and held the Gators to a lone hit and no runs in two innings’ worth of work. It was a great start to a big weekend for Georgia softball.