Georgia softball fell agonizingly short in its Women’s College World Series opener on Thursday, losing 3-2 to No. 5-seed Oklahoma State at Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City.
UGA freshman Ellie Armistead hit a double into the left-center gap with runners on first and second in the seventh inning, making it a one-run game by driving home Jaiden Fields who had reached on a single.
Coach Lu Harris-Champer elected to hold runner CJ Landrum at third base on the play, however, rather than risk a play at the plate.
Georgia (34-22) will play No. 1-ranked Oklahoma (50-3) at noon on Saturday in an elimination game. The Sooners, who entered a 9-5 favorite to win the tourney, were stunned by unseeded James Madison by a 4-3 count in eight innings in the WCWS opening game.
The Bulldogs split a doubleheader with the Sooners in Athens earlier this season.
Oklahoma State struck first in Thursday’s game in the bottom of the third inning when Chyenne Factor drove a 1-2, two-out pitch just over the centerfield fence to make it 2-0.
Avery Hobson opened the inning with an infield single off Mary Wilson Avant (20-11), who prior to Factor’s blast had thrown 26 consecutive scoreless innings.
The Bulldogs cut the lead in half in the top of the sixth when Sara Mosely delivered a two-out RBI single to right field, scoring Kuma from second. Kuma reached on a one-out single and advanced to second on Lacy Fincher’s groundout to the pitcher.
Oklahoma State, however, wasn’t finished.
Former Georgia player Alysen Febrey came through with an RBI single in the bottom of the sixth inning to score Kelly Naomi. The Cowgirls were playing for the run, using a sacrifice bunt to get Naomi to second after she had singled to start the inning.
The Bulldogs’ biggest setback came in the top of the fifth inning.
Sydney Chambley reached on a fielder’s choice after Jayda Kearney singled to open the top of the fifth inning, and when Fields was hit by a pitch, the Bulldogs had runners on first and second.
Payden Bordeau delivered a right-side grounder that went off the glove of Febrey at first base and trickled into right field, setting the decisive play in motion.
Chambley and Harris-Champer appeared to miscommunicate, leading Chambley to hesitate before digging for the plate in an attempt to beat the throw home from Hayley Busby.
Busby, one of four transfers in the Oklahoma State lineup, delivered a perfect strike and catcher Reagan Wright — another transfer — successfully blocked the plate.
Sydney Chambley on the verge of an unsuccessful reach slide against Oklahoma State in a 3-2 loss on June 3 at the WCWS in Oklahoma City
“I was sending her, but when I turned around she was coming back at me,” Harris-Champer said. “I could have been further up where Sydney could have seen me better.”
Oklahoma State coach Kenny Gajewski said he noticed the hesitation.
“You look back in this arena,” Gajewski said, “and that may be the play of the game.”
Chambley went wide, but her reach slide missed the mark and Wright applied the tag for the second out of the inning.
UGA still had runners on second and third, but Ellie Armistead was unable to get the ball out of the infield, grounding out to short to end the inning.