ATHENS, Ga.—The fifth-ranked Georgia Bulldog softball team splits its doubleheader with in-state foe Mercer Saturday afternoon at Jack Turner Stadium.
Georgia (37-6) battled in the opening game and fell to the Bears 5-2. The Bulldog offense kicked into gear during the second game and defeated Mercer 7-5.
“Hats off to Mercer, they played a great game in all areas,” said Associate Head Coach Tony Baldwin. “Their pitching, hitting, and defense were great the first game and they deserved the win. We didn’t do enough offensively to get the result that we wanted the first game but we came back in the second. We just have to get ready for the next game and be ready to give our best effort. We keep telling the girls that it takes what it takes to get back out there and play our best every game.”
The offensive charge was led by Alysen Febrey, who went 3-for-3 at bat, and Cortni Emanuel, who recorded two hits that resulted in runs each time, during the second game.
Georgia pitchers Amanda Ablan and Mary Wilson Avant reached career-high strikeouts against the Mercer Bears (27-13).
Ciara Bryan tallied her sixth triple of the season and is now tied at fourth for most single-season triples at Georgia.
Mercer 5, Georgia 2 (8 inn.)
Georgia pitcher Ablan tossed four and two-thirds innings with nine strikeouts, a new career high. Kylie Bass pitched three and one-third innings in relief and is now 12-2 this season, suffering the loss in the circle.
Mercer catcher Megan Lane hit a home run in the first to put the Bears on the board.
The Bulldogs retaliated in the second after a triple from centerfielder Bryan scored catcher Jessica Morgan. Kendall Burton scored Bryan after a groundout RBI to take a one-run lead over the Bears, 2-1.
The Bears came out hungry for an equalizing play in the sixth and got exactly that. First baseman Caroline Taylor ripped a home run to center field tying the game, 2-2.
Mercer came out in the eighth with hot bats and took a three-run lead over the Bulldogs. Georgia failed to regroup and fell to the Bears 5-2.
Georgia 7, Mercer 5
Avant started in the circle for the Bulldogs in game two against the Bears. Avant pitched the complete game with seven strikeouts, earning a new career high and is now 4-1 on the season.
“I think we had a really good answer-back during the second game,” said Avant. “We had a fire lit under our butts so that energy really helped us on offense and defense. I had to get my feel in the bullpen and after the first inning I just had to readjust and I think I did a good job of that. It didn’t feel like a career-high night but it feels good to know that it was that kind of game for me.”
Mercer started the second game similarly to the first. A fielding error allowed the first run to score followed by a three-run home run by shortstop Emma Andrew to take a 4-0 lead in the opening stanza.
The Bulldogs responded in the first after Emanuel did what she does best, stole to second. Shortstop Alyssa DiCarlo hit a single to left center to push Emanuel past the plate. Burton then hit her third triple of the season to notch two more runs for Georgia making the score 4-3.
Sophomore Mahlena O’Neal stepped up to bat in the second and hit a leadoff home run to centerfield to even the score, 4-4. This was O’Neal’s first day back since Apr. 4.
Georgia took the lead in the fourth after a base hit from Emanuel sent pinch runner Tyler Armistead past the plate. Second baseman Justice Milz hit a fly ball out to leftfield which scored Jordan Dogget, shortly after first baseman Febrey hit a single to left center and scored Emanuel. The Bulldogs held a three-run lead over Mercer, 7-4.
The Bears scored an unearned run in the sixth after an error by Georgia’s shortstop, narrowing the run gap to 7-5.
Mercer got a two-out runner in the bottom of the seventh but a groundout to Doggett at third secured the victory for Georgia.
The Bulldogs and Bears are set to wrap the series Sunday at 2 p.m. at Jack Turner Stadium. The game will stream live to the SEC Network+.