Coach Tony Baldwin and his Georgia softball team know there’s only one way they’re going to get the respect they deserved for having the programs’ best regular season since 2009.

The No. 14-seeded Bulldogs are going to have to take it, and they’ll have to do it against a No. 3-seeded Florida State team that is 34-3 at home in tonight’s 8 p.m. NCAA Super Regional elimination game (TV: ESPN2).

“Asking, talking and looking for respect is a losing battle,” Baldwin said after his Georgia team was humbled in the best-of-three opener on Thursday night, falling 8-1.

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“At the end of the day we can’t control what people think of us.”

The Bulldogs finished 16-9 in league play, finishing second while leading the SEC in home runs, slugging percentage and batting average.

But when the NCAA seedings were announced, two programs that finished behind Georgia in the league standings were seeded higher, with LSU No. 10 and Arkansas No. 11.

It has led to the Bulldogs drawing an ACC championship team in Florida State that boasts some of the best pitching in the nation.

Virginia Tech coach Pete D’Amour, who saw his team run-ruled by Georgia in the Athens Regional championship, warned that these Seminoles would pose a dangerous challenge for the Bulldogs.

“If they smell blood in the water, they’re going to pounce, so you

really have to play clean against them,” D’Amour said after UGA beat the Hokies 12-3 last Sunday. “They always capitalize on mistakes, (and) they have three, four or five pitchers they can throw at you.”

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And yet, Baldwin noted, Georgia was not as far out of the game as the final score would suggest on Thursday night.

“The truth is we are one or two at-bats away from that script being flipped,” said Baldwin, whose team managed just one run on six hits. “They got the first one, and we’ll have to regroup.”

It’s a veteran UGA team, with players like Sydney Kuma and Jaiden Fields boasting big-game NCAA tournament experience.

“We just need to do better, and that’s it,” said Kuma, who starred in volleyball, soccer and basketball in addition to developing into one of the most celebrated softballl recruits in talent-rich California, receiving a scholarship offer from Georgia as a sophomore in high school.

It was Kuma who put the Bulldogs out front with a lead-off home run to start the second inning, seemingly unfazed by the tomahawk-chopping Florida State crowd.

“You look at the crowd once, and then you zone in and you just focus like you are playing at home,” said Kuma, who also singled to start the fourth inning for Georgia and reached in the sixth inning after getting hit by a pitch.

“Don’t think of it as something going against you — just play your game.”

The Bulldogs will likely need better results from their other two top hitters to keep their season going, as first-team All-SEC players Jayda Kearney and Sara Mosley were were a combined 0-for-6 batting in the No. 3 and No. 4 spots in the batting order.

Jaiden Fields, known for clutch hits throughout her Georgia softball career, said the Bulldogs just need to regain the momentum.

“I feel like this game is all about short-term memory, so it’s coming out (Friday) and being resilient,” Fields said. “And when we get the momentum, it’s keeping that momentum.

“When you get to super regionals, it’s going to be a dogfight, no matter what, so it’s having the resilience to keep pushing and adding runs and hits up the middle, hit after hit.”

Georgia has seven players remaining from its 2021 Women’s College World Series team, which swept through No. 4-seed Florida in Gainesville by scores of 4-0 and 6-0.

Fields homered in both games against the Gators, and Kuma had a pair of hits and a home run in the WCWS-clinching game.

Baldwin had a front-row seat as the hitting coach, so he knows what his players are capable of under challenging circumstances.

Georgia’s .322 batting average is the best among SEC teams, as are its 92 home runs and .589 slugging percentage.

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“We didn’t do enough to flip the script our way,” Baldwin said. “We didn’t do enough on offense to get the momentum on our side.

“As great as the crowd was, I didn’t feel like that outside things got in the way.”