Tuesday April 16th, 2024 10:11PM

No. 15 Georgia softball beats No. 18 UCF on opening night

By Georgia Sports Communications

ORLANDO, Fla. — The 15th-ranked Georgia softball team defeated No. 18 UCF Thursday evening, 4-2, at the UCF Softball Complex to open the 2023 season.

Four Bulldogs combined for four hits: Jaydyn Goodwin, Sara Mosley, Lyndi Rae Davis, and Jaiden Fields. It was Fields that provided the two-run go-ahead hit in the sixth to put Georgia in the lead 3-2. 

Dallis Goodnight and Sydney Chambley took advantage of free bases as each drew three walks. They each stole two bases. As a team, Georgia stole six bases against the Knights. It was the most stolen bags by Georgia since Feb. 24, 2018, when UGA (1-0) stole nine in a game against Charlotte.

Graduate pitcher Shelby Walters worked four and a third innings in her start, allowing two runs (one earned) on six hits. She fanned three batters and did not allow a walk in the no-decision. Junior Madison Kerpics (1-0) pitched two and two-thirds scoreless innings in relief, allowing just one hit with no walks and striking out three.

“I’m super proud of the fight,” head coach Tony Baldwin said. “It was great to get into a competition again with adrenaline. You practice and practice and practice and it’s just not the same when the lights are on. It was a great crowd tonight with excellent competition.

“I thought the key to the game was Shelby [Walters] making the pitches to minimize damage. Sara Mosley was outstanding at third base and made some really clutch plays. She also got a big hit to get us on the board. And then Jaiden Fields, she’s has been clutch her whole career, comes up in that moment and switches the momentum for us. Madison [Kerpics] came in and was really sharp. It was a total team effort and I look forward to getting back at it tomorrow.”

After one and a half scoreless innings, UCF (0-1) broke through in the second by loading the bases with no out and scoring the go-ahead run on an RBI fielder’s choice. Walters wiggled out of the jam to limit the Knight’s rally, 1-0.

Goodnight led off the top of the third with a walk, stole second, and advanced to third on a groundout. Mosley evened the score with a double to the wall in center, plating Goodnight, 1-1.

The Knights answered back with an RBI base hit off the bat of Chloe Evans in the home half of the third to carry a 2-1 lead into the fourth.

A pair of free bases to begin the sixth inning sparked a three-run, go-ahead inning for Georgia. A leadoff walk and a hit batsman followed by a bunt for a hit from Davis loaded the bases with nobody out. Fields found a hole in the right side of the infield to drive in Chambley and Sydney Kuma to go ahead 3-2. Fields worked her way around to third then scored on a two-out passed ball to widen the lead to 4-2 in favor of Georgia.

Kerpics held the Knights in the sixth and seventh innings en route to the victory for the Bulldogs.

The Bulldogs return to action Friday with a pair of games. Georgia and Ohio State will square off at 11 a.m. then will take on Boise State at 1:30 p.m. at the UCF Softball Complex in Orlando.

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