April 19, 2013
ATHENS, Ga. - Chelsea Wilkinson struck out a career-high 12 batters as the University of Georgia softball team handed the No. 13/13 Texas A&M Aggies a 3-1 loss in the series opener on Friday, April 19 at Jack Turner Stadium in Athens, Ga. With the win, Georgia improves to 32-15 on the season, including a 9-7 mark in Southeastern Conference play. Texas A&M drops to 35-10 overall and 6-9 in league play.
Wilkinson went the distance for the Bulldogs in the circle to improve to 5-2 on the year, allowing just one run on three hits. Her 12 strikeouts were the most by a Georgia pitcher this season. Lauren Ainsley suffered the loss for the Aggies to drop to 11-4 on the year in the complete game performance. She gave up three runs, two of which were earned, on six hits and two walks.
Georgia didn't waste any time getting started, as Niaja Griffin led off the bottom of the first with a single, stole second and moved to third on an errant throw by the catcher on the steal. With a runner at third, Paige Wilson hit a double off the top of the wall in left center that scored Griffin and gave the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead. Geri Ann Glasco followed with a single through the right side that moved Wilson to third. With runners on, Kaylee Puailoa struck out but reached on a drop third strike and a throwing error by the catcher that scored Wilson and made it a 2-0 game.
Texas A&M looked to answer in the top of the second, as a walk and a single put runners on with one away. Wilkinson settled in and got the final two batters to strike out swinging to end the inning.
After two scoreless innings, the Aggies got on the board after Jenna Stark was hit by a pitch with one away. A walk moved to her to second before Meagan May singled up the middle to score Stark and make it a 2-1 game. Wilkinson struck out the final batter to the inning and any threat of another Aggie run.
Georgia tacked on an insurance run in the sixth to extend its lead to 3-1. Tina Iosefa led off the inning with a walk. Pinch runner Maya Branch moved up on a Tess Sito single up the middle. With one away and a runner at third, Samantha LaZear recorded an infield single that allowed Branch to score, as she beat out the throw to the plate.
Wilkinson was near flawless through the final three innings, allowing just two base runners. Texas A&M's best chance came in the top of the sixth, as a pair of runners reached with one out. Wilkinson allowed her defense to work behind her, as the final two outs were recorded to end the inning.
Georgia and Texas A&M will play the second game of the weekend series tomorrow, April 20, at 4 p.m.