Kerpics, strong hitting lifts UGA over Tennessee

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Georgia Athletics

Photo: Georgia Athletics

ATHENS, Ga. – The 15th-ranked Georgia Bulldogs defeated No. 12 Tennessee in the opening game of this weekend’s series, 8-2.

Georgia climbs to 32-7 on the season and 6-4 in SEC play.

The Bulldogs’ eight runs came on eight hits, two apiece sophomores Jayda Kearney and Ellie Armistead. Armistead scored three times in the game and junior Sydney Kuma scored twice. Senior Lacey Fincher and Kuma each drove in two runs.

Sophomore Madison Kerpics (13-3) went the distance in the circle, allowing two runs on four hits with five strikeouts on the night.

Georgia jumped on the board early in the game, putting a run up in the opening frame. Kuma got a double to fall in the outfield between a group of Lady Vols. She raced home on a two-out RBI single to right off the bat of Jaiden Fields to go ahead 1-0 in the first.

Armistead extended the Bulldogs’ lead in the second with an inside-the-park home run down the right field line in the second inning, 2-0. It was Georgia’s first inside-the-park home run since teammate CJ Landrum in Feb. 2019.

A Tennessee (25-11, 7-5) run in each the third and fourth innings knotted the game at two-all going to the bottom of the fourth.

Lyndi Rae Davis wasted no time breaking the tie, driving in Kearney with a double in the right-center gap in the bottom of the inning, 3-2. Georgia proceeded to load the bases. A walk to Kuma followed by Fincher taking a pitch off the arm drove in two more runs, widening the lead to 5-2 after four.

Kerpics didn’t allow a single hit the final three innings en route to the game one victory.

Georgia and Tennessee square off in game two of the series Saturday afternoon at Jack Turner Stadium. First pitch is set for 2 p.m.

Georgia Head Coach Tony Baldwin

On improvements in tonight’s game… “I’ll start by saying I’m as proud today for the way that we came out and competed than in any game that we have had all season. It’s been a crazy week. We had the late Monday night game, there’s been travel, and we’ve had off days, so it’s just been a weird week. For us to show up and really compete – I couldn’t be more proud of the way that we just played Georgia Softball. That’s what I would say, we just played Georgia Softball. I’m pleased with the way that we competed in many ways in Tuscaloosa. In games two and three, we were in the fifth and you could see a win in sight. Neither one of them went our direction, and that’s part of life in the big city when you are playing good teams in a tough environment. I thought we handled it well, competed well, but we just didn’t execute enough to get on top. Today, in our environment, with a great crowd, I thought we made some really quality defensive plays and got some timely hits, and I think Madison really controlled things from the circle.”

On Madison Kerpics’ performance… “I thought she was outstanding in making competitive pitches – changing her locations, taking her around the zone. What was great was that she got through there and it wasn’t even her best change-up tonight. I think that’s encouraging that she can go compete against a talented offensive team that is hitting the bat well as of late, one of the hotter offensive teams in our conference. I’m really proud of her.”

On narrower score lines in the last few games… “Good teams find ways to win in a lot of different ways. When you’re playing in the SEC, every one of these games is a Super Regional, and their dugout has every bit of much talent as we have in ours. At the end of the day, games are won and lost in the SEC by who plays better that day. It’s not about what happened last week, or two weeks, or one month ago because it doesn’t have any bearing. Everybody is going through things at this time of the year. Everybody has their own set of challenges. At the end of the day, it’s the Red and Black versus the Orange and White. Today, we did a few more things to get the ‘W’, and tomorrow, we’ll have to come back and do the same thing.”

Sophomore Ellie Armistead

On her inside the park homerun… “I knew I was getting an outside pitch, so I just went for it with my swing. I think the wind carried it a little bit, and I didn’t expect to get as many bases as I did. I know she dove for it. I just kept running. I saw Tony [Baldwin] do this [waving home motion], so I just kept going.”

On Madison Kerpics… “She always keeps her composure everywhere, every game, even the situation like Alabama last weekend. She had bases loaded twice, and she came out of both innings. She trusts us on the defense, and we trust her. We work well together.”

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