May 16, 2002
Columbia, S.C. - The Georgia Bulldogs softball team narrowly escaped with a 2-1 victory over the UMBC Retrievers in the NCAA Softball Regional Championships in Columbia, S.C. today. Georgia (58-15), who only managed two runs on three hits, advances to face the winner of the South Carolina-Eastern Kentucky tomorrow at 4:30 p.m. while UMBC (46-20) will face Liberty tonight at 7:00 p.m. in the double-elimination bracket.
UMBC got on top first, scoring their lone run in the top of the first. Deanna Vecchio scored after being walked and hit in by Kristie Pickeral. Later in the inning the Retrievers had two runners in scoring position with two outs but couldn't drive them in as Alexis Viera popped up to second baseman.
Georgia tied the game in the bottom of the first as Katie Lewis reached base off of a single as did Kim Wedland, who followed her. UMBC walked the next batter, Shannon McKeon, and Lewis reached home off of an error by the UMBC catcher.
In the fifth inning, UMBC started off strong as Vecchio tripled to start off. Boone followed her with a strike out then Georgia pitcher Lacy Gardner walked the next batter, Pickeral. Bonnie Nevin struck out to give the Retrievers two outs and runners on first and third. Gardner intentionally walked Jessica Graziano to load the bases and give the Bulldogs a force at any base. Alexis Viera came up next and hit a screaming line drive towards second base, but Georgia second baseman Katie Lewis dove to make a great catch and end the Retriever threat.
In the bottom of the sixth, with runners on second and third, Georgia third baseman Kristen Bell grounded out to shortstop, but that scored the winning run as Nicole Barber crossed the plate to give the Bulldogs the lead indefinitely. "With Nicole's speed, all I had to do was get a ground ball," said Georgia's Kristen Bell. "I wanted a good pitch, sit back and be late on the ball and hit it up the middle."
"This was a well-fought game.," said Georgia Head Coach Lu Harris-Chamber. "UMBC was ready to play but fortunately we were too. Our hitters did a good job of adjusting late in the game. Lacey Gardner did a great job on the mound and Kristen Bell did an outstanding job of coming up with the clutch run."
With the win, Georgia Head Coach Lu
Harris-Chamber recorded her 300th win as a head coach. "It was pretty
cool [recording her 300th win], but I'm not one for numbers," said
Harris-Chamber. "I want the team to play hard and play well. And we did
that today. Tomorrow we have to come out and be ready to play. We came
out a little nervous today. Even though it is the NCAA Regionals, we have
to be ready to play."
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