The Clearwater Invitational woke us up with a pair of Top 20 matchups and they didn’t disappoint with storylines.

No. 4 Georgia comes alive late, beats No. 10 Oklahoma State

Jaiden Fields and Lyndi Rae Davis were batting under .150 entering the game. The game doesn’t know what you did yesterday or the day before. The veteran Bulldogs played hero as Georgia stormed back to beat Oklahoma State 7-4.

For most of the day, Georgia had zero answers for Oklahoma State starter Kyra Aycock. As Fields stepped into the box for her second at-bat, the Bulldogs were down four and only had one hit to that point, her single back in the second. Unlike her teammates, Fields had the timing down on Aycock. She led off the fifth with a double, and just like that the Dawgs dugout was barking again.

Oklahoma State committed a pair of errors to put Georiga on the board as Aycock exited. While Kenny Gajewski turned to Lexi Kilfoyl, Tony Baldwin grabbed Davis off the bench with a chance to tie the game with one swing. Baldwin won the chess match. Davis had a very competitive at-bat, fouling off a pair of pitches before lifting a three-run blast on an inside pitch to tie the game.

Georgia had a better plan against Kilfoyl. Fields finished her 3-for-3 day with an RBI double in the sixth to put the Bulldogs ahead for the first time Friday. Emily Digby and Dallis Goodnight also drove in runs to push the lead to three.

Madison Kerpics did a great job in relief by throwing three scoreless innings to help settle down the Cowgirls lineup. Though Shelby Walters wasn’t bad in any way, she had poor luck.

Caroline Wang continued her hot start to her Oklahoma State career with an RBI double down the line in the first, but the real damage happened in the second. Walters quickly got the first two outs of the inning. It appeared it’d be a 1-2-3 inning as a ball rolled to Sydney Kuma at second, however, an error kept it going. Megan Bloodworth hit a two-run homer the next at-bat.

Tallen Edwards proceeded to single. And then another error came, this time it wasn’t a player. Home plate umpire Liz Hammerschmidt lost the count while Claire Timm was in the box. Timm fouled the first pitch, watched a ball, swung through another pitch and couldn’t hold up her swing for what was strike three. Walters and Timm started to head for their respective dugouts, yet they returned to continue the at-bat as Hammerschmidt said it was only strike two. Timm then hit a RBI triple to increase the Cowgirls’ lead to four. As they say ‘ball don’t lie’ and Georgia overcame it.

No. 11 LSU goes blow-for-blow with Northwestern

Apparently, LSU and Northwestern watched the battle between Kentucky-North Carolina and thought they could do better. Raeleen Gutierrez’s sacrifice fly brought in the 25th run of the game and closed LSU’s 13-12 win.

The game had a basketball-like feel to it with the amount of scoring runs each team had. Here is a quick rundown of all that transpired:

  • Northwestern led 5-0 after homers from Hannah Cady & Riley Grudzielanek
  • Northwestern lead was trimmed to 5-4 after Macy Bergeron three-run blast & run scored on a wild pitch
  • LSU led 7-5 after Karli Petty two-RBI double down the line & a sacrifice fly.
  • LSU led 8-7 after five innings following Northwestern scoring two in the top half and Petty driving in another run on a double.
  • Northwestern scored five runs in the top half of the sixth to take a 12-8 lead. Kansas Robinson and Cady, who finished the day with 5 RBIs, were responsible for pushing the Wildcats back on top.
  • Ali Newland erased the work done by Northwestern with a first-pitch grand slam for LSU in the bottom half to tie the game at 12.

There were a lot of positive takeaways from both sides. Outside of Cady and Angela Zedak, Northwestern has a very young lineup that has continued to show fight. LSU’s veteran team has found itself on the wrong side – last season’s Baton Rouge Regional final for instance – of these wacky games. If the Tigers want to get back to Oklahoma City, it’s coming through on top this these games that will be the difference.

The Huskies are playing fetch

It’s very early in the season, yet, Victoria Hayward is the early favorite for Assistant Coach Hire of the Year. Sure it’s easy to bring back a former All-American back home, but Washington is reaping the rewards from hiring the former San Diego State hitting coach.

Washington combined to score 20 runs in its wins over No. 18 Kentucky (8-1) and Minnesota (12-4). It’s not that Hayward took over a lineup that included Baylee Klingler, Madison Huskey, Sami Reynolds, SilentRain Espinoza, Kelley Lynch or Jadelyn Allchin. It was her job to replace that production. Thus far she has.

In the first game against the Wildcats, Sydney Stewart and San Diego State transfer Jill Celis homered against Kentucky ace Stephanie Schoonover. The Huskies pushed her out of the game in the fifth inning. Then the runs came storming, scoring six in the inning behind five hits.

The station-to-station hitting was on display against the Gophers. Washington finished with 17 hits and left plenty on the bone stranding 14 runners on base.

It’s a total group effort. And this isn’t a lineup filled with transfers. Celis is the only transfer new to the roster this season that’s making an impact. It’s returners stepping up and we are seeing true player development.

Celis gives the lineup a veteran presence. Brooklyn Carter is showing off her speed at the top of the lineup. Rylee Holtorf’s bat is starting to match her glove. Brooke Nelson, a fifth-year senior is off to her best start offensively. Avery Hobson has emerged in a starting role with a good average after only starting 20 games last season. Good things at happening with Washington.

Give Canady a run, she’ll give you a win

NiJaree Canady doesn’t need a ton of help. Play good defense behind her and score a run or two, she’ll probably go get you a win. No. 9 Stanford backed up the star pitcher as she led the Cardinal to a 1-0 over No. 3 Tennessee. 

Canady in her own right was spectacular despite not getting the start. When the Lady Vols loaded the bases against Regan Krause in the first, Canady came in to limit the damage. She did that by inducing a grounder back to her. 

You can probably sum up the ace’s day by how she fared against Kiki Milloy. The Tennessee superstar and one of the best hitters in the country looked uncomfortable in her three at-bats against Canady. Milly struck out three times, the second one swinging through a riseball that was eye level and ending the game with her third strikeout. 

Other Tennesee hitters had better luck against Canady, but none could find the breakout RBI. McKenna Gibson and Alannah Leach both doubled, but neither came in to score as those were the only hits Canady.

The Stanford defense played a clean game. Even a few web gems. Emily Jones set the tone in the seventh inning laying out to catch the first out of the frame. 

Ava Gall made up for her error the night before as she put the Cardinal on the board in the first. Gall roped a double into the gap off of Payton Gottshall and Taryn Kern scored from first base for the lone run of the game…because well….that’s all Canady needs most days. 

Softball around America

  • UCLA showed fight after a tough weekend. The Bruins and Seminoles got into a walk and slugfest that ended with a football score of 14-10 in favor of UCLA. There was a combined 19 free passes between the two teams. Maya Brady homered twice and drove in five runs for the Bruins.
    • The good vibes only last so long. Georgia didn’t need a late rally in its game against UCLA. While the Bruins took an early one-run lead into the third, Davis and Sydney Chambley smashed a pair of two-run homers. Lilli Backes threw well again in the 7-2 win, going the distance and holding the Bruins to two runs and four hits.
  • No. 13 Missouri had an interesting day. Cierra Harrison tossed a no-hitter in a 1-0 win over Texas A&M Commerce. The Tigers were also no-hit as Julia Sanchez didn’t give up a hit in six innings. Jenna Laird walked, stole second and third, then scored on a sacrifice fly.
    • The offense did enough to beat South Dakota State ace Tori Kniesche in a 4-3 win.
  • No. 19 Texas A&M took down No. 20 Oregon behind a career day from Emiley Kennedy. The lefty struck out a career-high 11 batters in the Aggies 4-1 win over the Ducks.
    • She had to come in for a save later in the day as San Diego State rallied in the seventh. Kennedy stopped the rally, retiring the two batters she faced in the 7-5 win.
    • Meanwhile, the Ducks offense did not have a better time against LMU. Oregon was blanked by Jenna Perez, who struck out eight in a 4-0 win.
  • If you thought Arizona and Arkansas was going to be filled with fireworks, you were wrong. Aissa Silva and Robyn Herron stole the show. Silva, who started and re-entered the game, kept the Arkansas lineup quiet for her whole outing limiting the Razorbacks to one hit until Rylin Hedgecock hit a two-run homer in the seventh to tie the game. Herron came in the game in the first after starter Hannah Camenzind had no control walking three straight batters and allowing a run to come in. Herron went 6.1 innings without allowing a run until the seventh. Herron got Carlie Scupin to strikeout but with the ball in the dirt, Lauren Camenzind decided to throw to first but Regan Shockey raced home and scored the game-winning run.
  • Boston dominated Charlotte on the road. Kasey Ricard struck out 12 in a complete game shutout. Boston leadoff hitter Lauren Keleher went 3-for-3 with a home run and three RBIs.
  • No. 3 Texas flexed its power in its 9-2 win over No. 9 Stanford, which did not use Canady after her outing against the Lady Vols. Every run was scored via a home run and it was a freshmen party. Katie Stewart put one deep into the night. Kayden Henry hit her first and second career blasts. Stanford’s Jade Berry ran into one against Teagan Kavan, who stuck out nine in four innings, for her first homer as a Cardinal. Reese Atwood already lived her freshman season, though she hit a bomb as well.
  • Bella Henzler had herself a day for JMU. The Dukes won both their games including a walk-off grand slam to beat Villanova.
  • Wisconsin has had a tough go in Clearwater. The Badgers couldn’t hang on to their lead against Oklahoma State after surrendering six runs in the final three innings, falling 9-5.
    • The Badgers got run-ruled in the most offensive game yet in Clearwater. Up until the bottom half of the fourth, both Wisconsin and UCF scored in every inning. The Knights ended up scoring every inning in their 21-9 win. Jada Cody, Johneisha Rowe and Shannon Doherty each had four hits.
    • Wisconsin is 0-4 this weekend despite leading in every game at one point.


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