UGA Softball‘s season is underway, and the Dawgs look dangerous.
Georgia came into the year with as the 13th ranked team in the country. They opened it playing in the Black & Gold Tournament hosted by UCF. The other teams in the tournament were #18 UCF, Ohio State, Boise State, and UMass.
Tony Baldwin's second season as head coach is off to a hot start. Their first game was on Thursday against #18 UCF. The Dawgs handled business with right-hander Shelby Walters on the mound in game one. She went 4.1 IP, giving up 6 hits and only 2 runs before being relieved by junior right-hander Madison Kerpics in the 5th inning. The Dawgs went into the top of the 6th down to Knights 2-1, but after a 2 RBI single by Jaiden Fields, Georgia was on top 3-2. Georgia was able to bring Fields home, growing their lead to 4-2, and Kerpics kept UCF scoreless to win the game 4-2.
Madison Kerpics got the start for the Dawgs in their second game against Ohio State. She went only 1.2 IP, giving up 3 runs on 3 hits before Tony Baldwin brought Destin Howard in for relief. This was a game that, from the beginning, looked like it was going to be a shootout. After 3 innings, the Dawgs were up 4-3. Howard came in and shut down the Buckeye's offense allowing only 3 hits and one run before being relieved in the 5th inning. Heading into the 5th, the Dawgs and Buckeyes were all tied up at 4, but then the Georgia offense lit up Ohio State for 5 runs in the home 5th. The Dawgs were able to add two more runs in the 6th before Shelby Walters came in to close out the 11-4 win. The story of this game for the Bulldogs was junior outfielder Jayda Kearney. She went 4-4 from the plate with 3 homers and 6 RBI’s.
Junior right-hander Britton Rogers got the nod for the Dawgs third game against Boise State. The Broncos jumped out to an early 4-0 lead following a 2-run homer and 2 RBI singles. Georgia's perfect start to the 2023 campaign was in jeopardy, but they weren’t going to go down without a fight. The UGA bats came alive scoring 6 runs each in the 3rd and 4th innings, run-ruling Boise State 12-4 after 4 frames. Sara Mosley, Sydney Kuma, and Ellie Armistead all hit home runs for the Bulldog's offense.
UMass was the next opponent in line to face UGA, and again the Bulldogs got down early. UMass jumped all over UGA starter Destin Howard in the first inning, knocking her out of the game after only 0.2 innings. Howard gave up three walks which led to the Minutemen jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning.
Sophomore Kylie Macy came in and had a strong outing, allowing only one hit through 4.1 IP and putting up 8 strikeouts. The score stayed 3-0 until the Dawgs bats came to life and scored 13 runs to have the game called due to mercy rule in the 5th inning. The story for the Bulldogs in this game wasn't the long ball, but was timely hitting from the whole lineup. Georgia had 14 hits in just 5 innings of play, including 2 doubles, a triple, and a home run from Ellie Armistead.
Georgia faced Boise State again for their last game of the tournament. Shelby Walters got the start for Georgia, and she was outstanding, only allowing 4 hits over 4 innings of work. The Dawgs offense continued to prove why they're one of the best in the country by lighting the Broncos up for 14 runs on 15 hits. Jayda Kearney hit a grand slam in the 5th inning, and Lauren Burnett followed her up with a home run of her own. Tony Baldwin's team run ruled their third opponent in a row. This time the final was 14-1 after 5 innings.
This Georgia offense is off to a blistering start. Through five games, this team is batting .433 with 58 hits and 10 homers. They've also scored 54 runs in those 5 games as well. The UGA offense does almost everything well. They can hit home runs, get base hits, and are stealing bases every time they get the chance. They have attempted to steal 10 bases so far and have only been caught once. Sara Mosley and Lyndi Rae Davis lead the Dawgs in hits with 7 a piece, and Jayda Kearney leads Georgia in home runs with 4.
The pitching for the Dawgs has also been outstanding to start the season. Their team ERA is at 2.90, only allowing 14 runs over 5 games. Shelby Walters leads the team in wins with three. Kylie Macy and Madison Kerpics have a win each under their belt as well.
Georgia is 5-0 to start the season, and their next game is against Stanford in the Red & Black Showcase starting on Friday in Athens. St. John’s and Charlotte are the other teams that are participating in the tournament.
The Dawgs will try to get to 6-0 at 3:30 PM Friday afternoon on their home field at Turner Softball Stadium.