ATHENS, Ga. – Behind a two-run home run by freshman Mandy Blackwell, the Georgia State softball team defeated No. 13 Georgia 4-2 Tuesday night at Jack Turner Stadium. The win was the Panthers second over a ranked team in their last three games. GSU is now 26-23 overall while UGA falls to 38-10.
“I am so proud of the team,” head coach Roger Kincaid said the win. “It was a great effort. We are now at a point where they believe that they can win these kind of games. I can’t say enough about the team’s pitching, hitting and defense tonight. The formula worked and got us a big win for our program.”
Blackwell led the way with two RBI and junior first baseman Lauren Coleman finished with one hit, one run scored, one RBI and drew two walks. Junior catcher Callie Alford, sophomore shortstop Taylor Anderson and freshman second baseman Kensey Caldwell all finished with a game-high two hits.
“I did not even watch it because I was so nervous,” Mandy Blackwell said after the upset win. “I grew up watching Georgia and was a Georgia fan so this was probably one of my most nerve-racking games. I am really excited that we won. We never gave up and it was a great win for us.”
After a pop fly opened the game, Caldwell singled through the left side and then first Coleman drew a walk to put runners on first second. Georgia starter Chelsea Wilkinson then recorded a strikeout and forced a pop-up to end the Panther threat in the top of the first. In the bottom of the frame, Bulldog shortstop Paige Wilson drew a lead-off walk but she was forced out when first baseman Geri Ann Glasco grounded into a double play. A groundout ended the first inning with the game scoreless.
Georgia State was retired in order in the top of second. Georgia jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the inning on solo home runs by designated player Tina Iosefa and catcher Katie Browne. GSU starter Eron Milton then forced two infield pop-ups to end the inning with the Bulldogs leading 2-0 after two complete.
In the top of the third, Anderson singled up the middle to start a one-out rally for the Panthers. Caldwell then singled to short and Georgia’s Wilson threw the ball away allowing Anderson to advance to third. Coleman singled up the middle to plate Anderson and cut the Bulldog lead to 2-1. Both runners were stranded when Alford grounded into a double play to end the top of the third.
UGA center fielder Samantha LaZear led off the bottom of the third with a bunt single. She was tagged out when Wilson grounded into a 4-3 double play. Hugo then hit a high pop fly but right fielder Megan Litumbe was able to make the catch just short of the wall to end the third inning with Georgia State trailing 2-1.
Litumbe drew a one-out walk on four pitches in the top of the fourth. She then advanced to second on a wild pitch but was stranded there when a strikeout and pop-up ended the Panther half of the inning. Kaitlyn Medlam replaced Milton in the circle for GSU in the bottom of the fourth. Iosefa reached with a lead-off single to left. Adele Harrison then subbed to run for Iosefa and advanced to second on Kaylee Puailoa’s sacrifice bunt. Medlam escaped the jam by recording a strikeout and forcing a pop fly to end the fourth inning with the Panthers still down 2-1.
After a pop-up opened the top of the fifth, Anderson singled down the right field line. However, she was doubled up when Caldwell hit a weak line drive back to the UGA pitcher Wilkinson, who fired to first to get Anderson and end the Panther half of the frame. Medlam retired the Georgia side three up and three down in the bottom of the inning to keep it a 2-1 game after five complete.
The Panthers grabbed a 3-2 lead in the top of the sixth when designated player Mandy Blackwell blasted a two-run home run off the scoreboard in left. After a groundout, Alford singled to right before scoring on Blackwell’s bomb. GSU could have done more damage but the Panthers were stranded on the corners when a pop fly ended the top of the frame.
Medlam and the Georgia State defense then retired the first three Georgia batters to end the sixth inning and protect GSU’s 3-2 lead. In the top of the seventh, Coleman drew a two-out walk. Alford then doubled down the left field line and Coleman scored to give GSU a 4-2 lead when Bulldog left fielder Niaja Griffin misplayed the ball off the wall. A strikeout ended the top of the seventh with the Panthers up 4-2.
In the bottom of the final inning, Medlam retired the Georgia side three up and three down to clinch the upset win, her 17thof the season. She pitched four scoreless innings in relief and allowed one hit.
GSU starter Eron Milton went 3.0 innings and allowed two runs on three hits. UGA starter Chelsea Wilkinson pitched a complete seven innings, allowed four runs on 10 hits, struck out seven and walked three. She falls to 24-6 overall this season.
Next time out, the Panthers will hit the road for a three-game Sun Belt Conference series against UL Monroe. The teams will play a doubleheader on Saturday, April 26 beginning at 3 p.m. and a single game on Sunday, April 27 at 2 p.m.
Georgia State entered the game at No. 64 in the NCAA RPI; Georgia at No. 3, so GSU's rise up the charts will continue.
The home run was GSU's 49th of the season, adding to the school single season record that is growing.
Medlam's win was her 59th career, two shy of the school record of 61 wins.
This is a fifth GSU win over a top 25 team in the past three years. In 2012, GSU topped then No. 2 Alabama, who went on to win the national title. Over the weekend, GSU beat No. 19 South Alabama in a Sun Belt Conference game. The Panthers beat UGA last year, 10-7, when the Bulldogs were No. 23 in the poll. GSU also topped No. 25 Georgia Tech in the 2012 season.
Before last night's game, UGA was 30-3 at home and their pitcher who took the loss was 24-5.
Coach Kincaid's challenging schedule has put the Panthers into 12 games against top 25 teams this season.