ATHENS, Ga. — The Georgia softball team erupted for eight runs in the third inning and held down LSU long enough for a 10-7 victory Friday night at Jack Turner Stadium, handing the Tigers a surprising and disappointing loss.
Although the 24th-ranked Bulldogs (36-18, 13-9) grabbed their third consecutive Friday night victory in Southeastern Conference play, this one was something of an upset. It came against eighth-ranked LSU (40-12, 15-7) — a team that was fresh off a memorable three-game sweep of Alabama at Tiger Park.
Georgia also did much of their damage against star pitcher Rachele Fico (24-10), who gave up eight runs on five hits in 2.1 innings.
Paige Wilson led the Bulldogs, going 3-for-4 with two home runs — her first multiple-homer game of the year.
Chelsea Wilkinson (7-4) recorded the win after pitching 5.1 innings. She allowed six runs on nine hits, striking out two. Morgan Montemayor came in as relief for Wilkinson and picked up her second save, throwing 1.2 innings.
Fico clearly struggled Friday, allowing three walks and hitting two batters in the loss. Meghan Patterson came on in relief, pitching 3.2 innings. She gave up two runs on four hits.
In the first inning, LSU went up 2-0 when Bianka Bell hit a two-run homer over the left-field wall.
Wilson answered with her first homer of the day, cutting LSU’s lead to 2-1.
Georgia turned a double play in the second inning to clear the bases. The inning ended after Simone Heyward, who singled, was caught stealing second.
The Bulldogs scored eight times in the third inning to take a 9-2 lead. They knotted the score at 2 after Tina Iosefa was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to drive in Anna Swafford.
Georgia took the lead, 3-2, when Wilson crossed the plate on a single by Kaylee Puailoa. Later, Christine Olney laced a bases-clearing double to the right-field wall to drive in Katie Sowers, Iosefa and Puailoa.
After Katie Browne walked, LSU brought Patterson into the circle. But Niaja Griffin kept the momentum going. She extended the Bulldogs’ advantage to 8-2 when she tripled to drive in Olney and Browne. Griffin crossed the plate to bring the score to 9-2 before the inning ended with a pair of outs.
LSU added a run in the fourth inning and brought the score to 9-3 when Lauren Houston came home on a single by Jacee Blades.
The Tigers later cut Georgia’s lead to 9-6 in the sixth inning when A.J. Andrews belted a three-run homer. The Bulldogs called to the bullpen for Montemayor, and LSU added another run when Sandra Simmons drove in Bell to make the score 9-7.
Wilson led off the bottom of the sixth with a towering homer over the scoreboard, increasing Georgia’s lead to 10-7.
Montemayor faced the minimum in the seventh inning to end the game.
The teams are scheduled play the second game of their series at 1 p.m. Saturday.
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