[caption id="attachment_342852" align="aligncenter" width="1920"] (UK Athletics | Eddie Justice)
On Sunday, Kentucky and Georgia went head-to-head twice, each grabbing a win. The teams were forced to play a doubleheader after weather issues led to a delay on Saturday. Kentucky and Georgia will play their rubber match on Monday at 7 p.m.
First Game of the Day: UK 11, UGA 3
Opening pitcher Grace Baalman certainly didn’t start the way she was hoping. Of Baalman’s first nine pitches, six were balls leading to two first-inning walks. Despite Baalaman’s slow start, the ‘Cats escaped the top of the first without giving up any runs.
The ‘Cats first attempt at scoring some points was short-lived. Three batters came up and three batters went out leading to a quick transition into the second inning. Kentucky may have struggled to get anything going in the second, but Renee Abernathy wasn’t going to let stagnancy drag into the third.
With two outs on the board, Abernathy smacked a bomb deep for a two-run homer to put the Bat ‘Cats up 2-0 heading into the third inning. Unfortunately for the ‘Cats, Georgia couldn’t let them have all the fun.
Only a few moments after Abernathy’s home run, Georgia sophomore Sydney Kuma cracked a dinger of her own over the left-field fence to narrow Kentucky’s lead to 2-1.
Evidently, Kentucky standout freshman Erin Coffel wanted to keep the good times rolling.
After Kayla Kowalik and Rylea Smith were able to get on base, Coffell went yard for a three-run homer to extend Kentucky’s lead to 5-1. The game was quickly becoming a home run party.
That is, of course, until the Bulldogs changed things up. In the fifth inning, Georgia was able to load the bases without a single out. Over the next two at-bats, they were able to bring in two runs after drilling pop-ups to right-field. Kentucky escaped the inning without Georgia scoring again, but the Bulldogs’ two runs definitely put some pressure on the ‘Cats.
To say Kentucky responded would be a massive understatement.
After a few ‘Cats got on base, the runs never stopped coming in. Coffel started off the scoring with an RBI that split through the left side of Georgia’s defense.
With the bases still loaded, Baalman took to the plate. Seemingly shaken from the previous play, Georgia pitcher Mary-Wilson Avant proceeded to walk Baalman, leading to another run for the ‘Cats. Following up Baalman, Lauren Johnson ripped a single down the right side deep enough for two runners to score for Kentucky.
By then, Georgia’s fate seemed inevitable. In spite of a pitcher change, Georgia would walk Kentucky’s next two batters leading to the ‘Cats run-ruling Georgia 11-3. At the bottom of the fifth inning the game was over and all the Bulldogs were left to do was think about playing the ‘Cats again in a few hours.
Second Game of the Day: UGA 9, UK 8
Kentucky had no trouble picking up right where they left off. In Kentucky’s first at-bat of the second game of the day, star catcher Kowalik hit another moonshot to center field. Before Georgia had blinked, the 'Cats were already exhibiting their dominance again with a 1-0 lead.
As demoralizing as the home run was to the Bulldogs, the ‘Cats weren’t done yet. Following up Kowalik’s impressive start, Kentucky native Johnson helped put some more points on the board. With a quick swing of her bat, Johnson batted in two more runners to extends the ‘Cats advantage to 3-0 heading into the second inning.
In spite of Kentucky’s impressive performance, Georgia wasn’t ready to give up. Bulldog freshman Sydney Chambley took matters into her own hands and hit a homer on pitcher Autumn Humes to cut Georgia’s deficit to 3-1.
Although Chambley’s hit was a good start for the Bulldogs, it wasn’t enough to deter the Wildcat offensive onslaught the next time out. With Emmy Blane on base, Kowalik had another huge hit to allow Blane to run in an additional point.
As if it was a scene straight out of Groundhog Day
, Johnson followed Kowalik up by hitting a hole straight through Georgia’s defense leading to another run. Only two innings into the game and the ‘Cats were ahead 6-1.
Kentucky’s defense was just as effective as their offense. Kentucky quickly got off the field and headed back to the dugout to prepare to put more points on the board. Spoiler alert... They succeeded.
After Kentucky loaded the bases, Georgia pitcher Alley Cutting walked Coffel to give the ‘Cats a free run.
As Georgia’s offense continued to struggle to find hits, another run-ruled game grew closer and closer. Heading into the bottom of the fifth inning leading by six runs, the ‘Cats only needed two more scores to end the game.
Kowalik and Baalman started off the inning right by getting on base, but Coffel was the one to put a point on the board. The freshman ripped a line drive up the third base line to bring the ‘Cats within one point of closing the game out.
Nonetheless, Georgia refused to give in and forced the ‘Cats back on the field for a sixth inning.
Then, something snapped. Georgia junior Lacey Fincher began the inning by cracking a homer straight to centerfield to bring the score to 8-2. Fincher’s home run seemed to awaken something in the Bulldogs.
Georgia would go on to get two more runners on base before Jayda Kearney stepped up to the plate. Kearney cranked a ball deep for a three-run home run to cut Kentucky’s lead to 8-5. Meanwhile, Kentucky failed to get anything going in the bottom of the sixth. Just like that, we had ourselves a ball game heading into the final inning.
After picking up some momentum, Georgia never looked back. Georgia infielder Kuma batted in Savana Sikes. Immediately following Kuma’s impressive hit, two more Bulldogs found their way on base. Then, Sara Mosley stepped up to the plate. With all the pressure on, Mosley went yard to right field for a three-run home run that gave the Bulldogs a 9-8 lead.
Kentucky’s back was undeniably against the wall, but they had nobody to blame but themselves. As expected Kowalik and Coffel were able to get on base, but a soft hit from Spangler led to a double play that concluded Georgia’s comeback. In the end, UGA mounted an insane late-game rally to defeat the Wildcats 9-8 in the second game of the day.
Although the surprising turn of events undoubtedly stings for the ‘Cats, they won’t have to wait long for a chance at redemption. Kentucky will take on Georgia again tomorrow at 7 p.m. ET.