Florida State pitching stops Georgia’s SEC-leading hitting, eliminates Bulldogs in 4-2 win
Georgia softball saw its season come to an end in Tallahassee on Friday night with the age old axiom that great pitching beats great hitting.
Florida State ACC pitcher of the year Kat Sandercock came out of the bullpen to cut down the heart of the Bulldogs’ batting order with the game on the line, preserving a 4-2 margin to lead the Seminoles back to the Women’s College World Series.
“We gave ourselves a shot at the end, and that’s all you can ask for,” Second-year UGA coach Tony Baldwin said. “Last week we were clicking on all cylinders and Florida State was fighting to survive, and this weekend they were clicking and we were fighting to compete with them.”
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Georgia ends its season 42-15, including a second-place 16-9 SEC mark that represented the team’s best league mark since 2009.
The Bulldogs, who led the SEC in home runs, batting average and slugging percentage, appeared on the verge of big things against Florida State (55-9) in the sixth and seventh innings.
Lead-off hitter Dallis Goodnight reached and advanced to second on an error to open the sixth inning, and Lyndi Rae Davis followed with an RBI single that cut the lead to 4-2 with no outs.
Sandercock, the winner in FSU’s 8-1 series-opening win on Thursday night, came on in relief and walked UGA home run leader Jayda Kearney before settling in.
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Georgia All-SEC third baseman Sara Mosley popped up before All-American candidate and first-team All-SEC pick Sydney Kuma struck out in a nine-pitch at-bat.
Sydney Chambley, the team’s hottest hitter in the regional last week with 4 home runs and 13 RBI’s, struck out on three pitches amid the raucous Florida State home crowd to end the sixth.
The Bulldogs threatened again in the bottom of the seventh with a pair of singles from Jaydyn Goodwin and Ellie Armistead.
Sandercock, however, induced Fields and Goodnight to ground out before Davis flied out to end the game with the tying run on second base.
The Bulldogs’ top six hitters in the batting order combined to go 1-for-19 hitting -- with one walk-- on the night.
Florida State had opened the scoring in the top of the third with three runs off UGA starter Shelby Walters (18-6).
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Walters got herself in a jam against the opportunistic Seminoles, hitting the first two batters to start the frame before Kalei Harding supplied the only hit of the inning with a two-run double.
The first run came across on a controversial play at the plate, when it appeared Armistead’s throw from shortstop was in time for Davis to make the tag on FSU baserunner Jahni Kerr at the plate.
A replay official in Pittsburgh overturned the call, giving the Seminoles a 1-0 lead.
Baldwin shared his frustration after the game, noting the night before, Davis and UGA were on the wrong side of a controversial obstruction call that led to a Florida State run.
ESPN analyst Danielle Lawrie, a former WCWS championship pitcher who hyped UGA’s hitting tradition throughout the broadcast, was critical of the hit batters.
“That’s the one thing that has not been as sharp as they normally have been,” Lawrie said during the Friday night ESPN2 telecast. “That’s what it comes down to; You have to be able to execute in the circle in big-time moments.
“Great teams, like Coach Tony Baldwin said, are going to find ways to make you pay, and that’s what Florida state has done.”
Georgia got a run back in the bottom of the third off FSU starter Mack Leonard (2-1) after Goodwin doubled to start the inning and Fields followed with a single up the middle.
A big inning appeared to be brewing, but a pair of groundouts led only to one run, and Leonard struck out Davis to end the threat
Still, Baldwin was encouraged Georgia’s offense had pushed a run across.
“I felt we came out a little timid the first time through the order, but (Goodwin) got us going and gave us a little spark,” Baldwin said, “and the important thing there is we got an answer back, we gave up some runs and came right back and answered back.”
Florida State extended its lead to 4-1 in the top of the sixth inning on Hallie Wacaser’s RBI single.
Georgia, picked to finish sixth in the SEC in the preseason poll, is expected to bring back all of its starters next season.
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