May 29, 2011
ATHENS, Ga. --- The Baylor softball team struck for five runs in the bottom of the first inning and padded the lead with three more in the fifth, claiming an eventual 9-2 win over Georgia in the rubber match of the NCAA Athens Super Regional Sunday evening in front of 1,483 at Jack Turner Softball Stadium. With the win, Baylor advances to the Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City June 2-8 while the Bulldogs end their season at 51-14.
After dropping game one by a 5-1 score yesterday, Georgia responded in a big way today, posting a 14-2 romp of Baylor in this afternoon's second game to even the series at 1-1 and force tonight's match-up. But the Lady Bears took control in the first inning and never looked back as hurler Whitney Canion went the distance, allowing just two runs over seven innings of work, walking two and striking out three.
Georgia starter Morgan Montemayor - the game one winner - took the loss, falling to 27-5 for her freshman campaign. Montemayor allowed five runs on four hits without making it out of the first. Erin Arevalo came on in relief of Montemayor and threw four innings, allowing three runs on four hits.
The Bulldogs eight-member senior class wraps up its tenure with an overall record of 194-63, a total that includes 127 home wins to mark the most of any Georgia class. The group owns 144 spots in the record book, including 13 single-season records and nine career-best totals.
"I'm so proud of Baylor in the second game," said head coach Lu Harris-Champer. "Whitney Canion pitched a great game. I'm happy for them and I wish them well in Oklahoma City. I'm also proud of our team and the way we fought hard. Incredibly proud of our seniors and the legacy that they've left on this program is second to none."
After a scoreless top of the first for Georgia, Baylor put up the five-spot with the big blow coming on a three-run shot off the bat of Megan Turk to left center that gave the Lady Bears the early 5-0 lead.
Georgia got one of those back in the top of the second as right fielder Brianna Hesson started the inning with a double in the gap in right. Ashley Razey moved her to third on a grounder to the second baseman KJ Freeland, before Kristyn Sandberg lined one to the wall in left center to score Hesson on the double, cutting it to 5-1.
Following two scoreless innings from Arevalo, Sandberg collected her second RBI of the game as she hammered a solo shot to straightaway center to make it 5-2, becoming the sixth Georgia player to hit 10 home runs this season.
The bottom of the fifth was more trouble for the Bulldogs, as a two-out single from catcher Kelsi Kettler made it 6-2 before Sydney Wilson smacked a two-out, two-run homer over the scoreboard in left to push it to 8-2 in favor of BU. Alison Owen came out of the pen for Georgia and was greeted by a tripled from Kayce Walker, but Owen eventually stranded her at third to avoid further damage.
Georgia made a little noise in the top of the sixth as Trout laced a two-out single to center to send Ashley Pauly to the plate with two on, but Pauly flied to deep right to retire the side and end the threat.
Canion gave herself more insurance with a one-out bomb over the tree line in center to increase the lead to 9-2. Alisa Goler reached in the Georgia seventh but Schlopy hit into a game-ending double play as the Lady Bears held on to punch their ticket to Oklahoma City.
The Bulldogs had their run at three straight WCWS appearances cut short in Georgia's third time hosting a Super Regional. The Bulldogs were playing in their 10th NCAA tournament, all under Harris-Champer's leadership, now with a 40-20 all-time record in the postseason.
In today's early game, the Bulldogs put 14 runs across, including 10 in the fourth inning. The 14-run output marked Georgia's postseason record. The Bulldogs' five home runs tied the school's single-game record in that category.
Baylor Head Coach Glenn Moore
"Let me just give my regards to the University of Georgia for the tremendous job of hosting this super regional and to the University of Georgia softball team. Outstanding offensive team and an outstanding team all the way around. Holy cow, they're the toughest offensive lineup we've ever had to pitch to. Just a phenomenal lineup. That just says so much to the job [Whitney Canion] did. You saw whenever we didn't have in her in the second game, how ugly it got, so if anyone doubts what Whitney Canion can do, just compare the two games. There's so much heart and passion with this team. To have a game like we had for game two and to not let that phase them one bit tells you what kind of team I coach. I'm very proud of these girls. We are not a scary team. No one is that scared of us, I don't believe. Yet we win and that's because I think that we are the true definition of a team. We work hard and if that door opens, we're going to step inside of it and do as much damage as we can. We did that in the first inning and that gave us some breathing room. I'm very, very proud to be going back to our second Women's college World Series."
On whether or not his team is a good hitting team with two outs. . .
"Our team has been an anytime team and an any part of the order team this year. I knew moving the lineup around wasn't going to make that big of a deal because you never know who is going to produce. We've hit well with two-outs this year, but we've been unpredictable when we're going to hit."
On grabbing the momentum after the first game . . .
"The momentum was there way. I told the girls that it didn't matter. I gave credit to our bullpen, as poorly as they performed. I told them that they allowed Whitney to sit in the dugout after 50 pitches and kept her fresh. Had that game drug out even more in a close ball game then that would have diminished our chances of performing against that kind of offensive lineup. To come out and get that cushion and get some breathing room, that put the pressure on them a little bit and allowed her changeup to even work more because they were pressing, it seemed, to make it happen. Therefore, it kind of fit into our hand."
Baylor pitcher, #11 Whitney Canion
On the game...
"We're going to the World Series. I'm so proud of this team for not buckling after the first game. It was a tough game. We knew they were going to come out fighting today. We had a short game break between the two and the momentum was on Georgia's side and for us to come out and grab the momentum quick, that was awesome. This is the toughest atmosphere I've ever played in before. I've played in some tough ones but the crowd was going and it was tough to block them out. It was the most adversity and biggest atmosphere I've faced. I'm proud of this team for overcoming that because the College World Series isn't going to be any easier. This was a great weekend for us and a good lineup I was facing. That last game I was just trying to get my pitches to work and the defense was absolutely awesome."
On having a five-run lead in the second game...
"I had a little bit more confidence. After that game today, I left some fatties over the plate and they took advantage of every mistake you make. If something's over the middle of the plate or close to the plate, they're going to swing as hard as they can. Give them the credit that they just swing out of their shoes whenever they can. Our team getting that lead really helped me get some confidence back after that first tough game today. Just seeing how pumped up everyone was, I'm just thinking that I've got seven innings left in me and I just took it one out at a time. I just kept counting down the outs. I felt that a hard shot got hit off of me and then our defense would just snag it somehow. That was more motivation for me, knowing that if I was getting hard balls hit off of me, we were still making plays."
Baylor third baseman, #00 Megan Turk
On the game...
"This team is the most fun I've ever had on any team. We play for each other. We play with a lot of heart. Just going from that first game to the second game, having it be 14-2, we could have just shut down. We could have died right there. I've never seen so much fight out of a group of girls that I've played with my entire life, in any sport. We definitely played for the person next to us and Whitney did a phenomenal job. I'll tell you what, with every pitch, she dug deeper than she had ever dug before and she found something that could beat them. Georgia is an incredibly hard team to play. They hit bomb after bomb after bomb but I'm so proud of us for just staying in the game, staying within ourselves and we're going to the World Series. That's awesome."
Georgia Head Coach Lu Harris-Champer
"Give credit to Baylor in the second game. Whitney Canion pitched a great game. I'm happy for them and I wish them well in Oklahoma City. I'm also proud of our team and the way we fought hard. Incredibly proud of our seniors and the legacy that they've left on this program is second to none."
On the senior class . . .
"They've made history. They put Georgia softball on the map. More importantly, they're just fantastic people, all eight of them. I love them to death with all of my heart. They made coming to practice every day for the last four years worthwhile and full of joy. That's something that can never be replaced. Like they (Brianna Hesson and Taylor Schlopy) said, they're part of my family forever."
Georgia right fielder, #8 Brianna Hessen
"Canion came out and put on a show. She did a great a great job with her pitch placement. Baylor did a good job of fighting in the second game. When you have two great teams going at it, obviously one has to lose. I hope they continue to do a great job in Oklahoma."
On finishing her college career...
"This team is a family. That's something you can't go away from the University of Georgia without. Not only the players, but also the coaches and everyone involved come together to make a family. You can't replace that."
Georgia designated player, #23 Kristyn Sandberg
On the competition...
"I can't say enough about how hard both teams fought. We knew it was going to come down to this. I can't say enough about how much our seniors meant to us all year long. They are a great group of competitors all around. I'm so proud of them and what they've done in the last four years."
On Baylor pitcher Whitney Canion...
"She was doing a great job of mixing her pitches and hitting her spots. When a pitcher hits her spots like she was doing tonight, I think she's going to have success no matter where she's at."