May 29, 2010
ATHENS, Ga. - After a grand slam in the second and five runs off five Georgia hits and two Cal errors in the fourth, No. 6-seeded Georgia defeated No. 11-seeded California, 10-1, in five innings on Saturday afternoon to win the Athens Super Regional. With the loss, the Golden Bears' season concludes at 44-19 overall for the 37th winning season in program history while the Bulldogs advance to the Women's College World Series with a 48-11 record.
The Bears earned three hits off of Georgia's Sarah McCloud. The Bulldogs earned their 10 runs with seven hits off Cal hurler Jolene Henderson and two Cal errors. The crowd of 1,494 at the UGA Softball Stadium was the eighth largest in the facility's history.
With the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the first, Georgia scored the first run when a wild pitch got past catcher Lindsey Ziegenhirt. The Bears returned the scoring favor in their half of the first when Frani Echavarria earned a two-out, bases-loaded walk to plate Valerie Arioto.
With the bases loaded after a walk and Henderson hit two Bulldogs, left fielder Megan Wiggins hit her second career grand slam to return the lead to Georgia at 5-1.
A bunt singled, fielding error by the Bears and a fielder's choice juiced the bases with Bulldogs to start the top of the fourth. A two-run single from third baseman Alisa Goler plated two and a ground out from Hesson scored another, distancing the Bulldogs at 9-1. A Kristyn Sandberg single to right field scored the fifth and final run of the fourth to move Georgia's lead to 10-1.
In the top of the first, Henderson got Taylor Schlopy to fly out to Jamia Reid in left field. Left fielder Megan Wiggins hit a grounder at Taylor Kelly at short, where Kelly fielded it and made the clean throw to first but the umpire called Wiggins safe. The hit tied a Georgia school record for hitting streak at 20 games. In the midst of third baseman Alisa Goler's at bat, Wiggins stole second and Goler walked to give Georgia two baserunners.
First baseman Brianna Hesson flied out to Frani Echavarria in center and Henderson beaned catcher Kristyn Sandberg, loading the bases with Bulldogs. A wild pitch while designated player Ashley Razey was at the plate allowed Wiggins to score. Henderson got Razey looking to close the inning.
To start the bottom of the first for the Bears, Jamia Reid laid a single between the third baseman and the third-base line into left field. Shannon Thomas moved her to second with Thomas' 16th sacrifice of the year. Valerie Arioto and Lindsey Ziegenhirt both earned walks to load the bases.
Jace Williams hit a grounder up the middle, and the Georgia defense threw home, where the advancing Jamia Reid was called out while Williams raced on the fielder's choice. Frani Echavarria walked to send Valerie Arioto home, even the game at 1-1, and continue to juice the bases. Jordan Wallace, who doubled in her sole at bat in Friday's game, had a strong liner, but second baseman Ashley Pauly was there to make the stop and end the inning.
Right fielder Brittney Hubbard got a second chance after she swung and missed on the 2-2 pitch, for Henderson was called for an illegal pitch. On the next pitch, Henderson got the strike and the strikeout. Shortstop Laura Trout walked and Henderson hit both Pauley and Schlopy and to load the bases with one away in the top of the second with the score knotted at 1-1.
Wiggins then registered her second career grand slam with a shot towards right-center field to reestablish Georgia's lead, this time at 5-1. Goler walked, but was called for leaving early, Hesson walked as well but Hesson lined out to Kelly at short to end the inning and damage at 5-1.
After Thomas flied out to right, Arioto was robbed of a single when left fielder Megan Wiggins made a highlight-reel worthy diving catch for out number two. Ziegenhirt walked, but Williams had a bloop pop-up that first baseman Brianna Hesson grabbed to close the inning.
Turning to the small ball, Pauly had a bunt single to get aboard in the top of the fourth. Schlopy joined her on base when she hit a strong grounder at Williams, who could not field the ball. All runners were safe in the next at bat when Wiggins hit a grounder to Kelly. Kelly turned to throw to Williams at third, trying to get the advancing Pauly, but Pauly was safe as was Wiggins with a fielder's choice.
Goler singled past a leaping Kelly at short for a two-run single to center, advancing to second on the throw and was replaced by Lacey Pierce as a pinch runner. Hesson grounded to Kelly, who made the throw to Arioto at first for the first out of the inning, while Wiggins scored. Arioto threw cross-diamond to Williams at third, who applied the tag to Pierce, but was seconds too short. The collision sent Williams to the ground, causing a slight delay, but Williams recovered.
Sandberg singled into right field, plating Pierce and distancing the Bulldogs, 9-1. Razey notched the fourth hit of the top of the fourth with a shot to no man's land in shallow right field. Sara Sikes came in to run for Sandberg, and on the first pitch of pinch hitter Jennie Auger's at bat, Sikes stole third. Ziegenhirt made the throw but there was no Bear at the bag to make the catch and Sikes came around to score while Razey advanced to second.
Macie Couey came in as a pinch runner while Auger reached on a fielder's choice with a shot up the middle to Henderson, who threw to Williams at third to get the moving Couey. Hubbard replaced Auger at first and advanced to second when Trout singled to Thomas, who made the dig but could not toss it off to Kelly at second in time. Pauly hit a grounder up the middle, which Kelly fielded by herself and tapped second for the final out of the five-run, five-hit, two-error fourth inning.
The Bears showed no signs of fatigue or worry in the bottom of the fourth with Frani Echavarria leading off with a single to center field. Jordan Wallace hit a one-bouncer up the middle to McCloud in the circle, where the pitcher fielded it and turned to Trout at second to get Echavarria. Vernae Sevilla pinch hit for Taylor Kelly and singled up the middle to put Bears at first and second with Shannon Houston coming in to run for Wallace at second.
Elia Reid earned a walk to load the bases with one away for her sister Jamia Reid. Jamia Reid hit a grounder to McCloud, who threw home to Sandberg to get the advancing Houston while Reid reached on a fielder's choice. Thomas lined out to Hesson at first for the final out of the fourth.
Two grounds outs and one fly ball sent the Bulldogs down in order in the top of the fifth.
In the bottom of the fifth, with her team down, 10-1, Arioto earned a lead-off walk. Ziegenhirt flied out to right. Both Arioto and Jace Williams were safe when Williams had a fielder's choice up the middle with the Bulldogs unable to get Arioto at second. McCloud got Echavarria swinging for the hurler's first strikeout of the game. McCloud hit Wallace to load the bases with two outs and draw up Vernae Sevilla, who filled in at short for Kelly. Sevilla flied out to left-center to end the game.