— NCAA Softball (@NCAAsoftball) May 18, 2019
Ciara Bryan’s walk-off home run in the bottom of the eighth inning lifted the Georgia softball team over Drake in NCAA regional play on Friday night.
Jordan Doggett singled to start the inning, and Bryan followed with a two-run shot to propel the No. 14-ranked Bulldogs (41-17) in the winner’s bracket of the four-team Minneapolis regional.
“I was just trying to hit a single up the middle,” Bryan told the ESPN cameras after hitting her 11th home run of the season.
Georgia was on the ropes against No. 25-ranked Drake (42-15) the inning before, trailing 4-3 with one out when Justice Milz delivered the game-tying homer.
“We play in a tough conference and when we’re down here and there, it’s part of the game,” UGA coach Lu Harris-Champer said. “You just have to continue to keep fighting.
“Our team had a little pow wow the inning before that to try and get it together, and they really did.”
Georgia hit three home runs in the game off Drake pitcher Nicole Newman (28-7). Newman who throws over 70 mph, fanned nine.
UGA all-time home run leader Alyssa DiCarlo hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the third inning to give the Bulldogs a 3-1 lead. It was DiCarlo’s 22nd home run of the year.
Drake rallied with three runs in the top of the fourth inning, knocking UGA starter Kylie Bass out of the pitcher’s circle. Drake took a 4-3 lead on Libby Ryan’s two-out, two-RBI single.
Mary Wilson Avant (10-4) came on in relief and pitched four scoreless frames to get the win, allowing just one hit and one walk.
Georgia returns to action at 4 p.m. on Saturday against host Minnesota, a 3-0 winner over North Dakota State late Friday night.
Georgia is making its 18th consecutive NCAA tournament appearance.
The Minneapolis Regional is the only one with three teams ranked in the most recent USA Today/NFCA Coaches Poll, and all four teams have won at least 40 games.