Sloppy defense from UGA leads to SEC-opening win for Tiger softball

Ben Miglore

Errors told the story of the first Southeastern Conference softball game of the season for No. 16 Missouri and No. 19 Georgia.

The Tigers kicked off their conference campaign with a 6-1 win over the Bulldogs on Friday in the first matchup of a three-game series in Athens, Georgia.

With the two teams’ respective aces in the circle, a low-scoring affair was expected.

It was Mary Wilson Avant dealing in the circle for UGA. The graduate student led Georgia in innings pitched coming into the game and had an ERA of just 0.98.

Jordan Weber pitched for the Tigers, getting her team-leading ninth start of the season. She had compiled a 6-1 record in her previous 10 appearances.

Weber came out on top, giving up one run on four hits in 5 innings, setting Missouri up for a comfortable entry into SEC competition. The only real blip on the day was a solo home run given up to Savana Sikes in the bottom of the third.

Avant had some trouble with Missouri, giving up six runs on six hits, but the struggles were not limited to her pitching. The Bulldogs committed five errors, including one by Avant herself. The mistakes led to three unearned runs, making any kind of comeback difficult.

With all the errors, Missouri’s box score looks rather barren for having scored six runs. Much of the hitting came from the back part of the order. Freshmen Alex Honnold and Jenna Laird each got a hit and scored a run, with Honnold adding a steal. Abby George was the only Tiger with multiple hits, going 2-3 while scoring once and getting a steal.

Looking ahead to the rest of the series, Missouri will want to keep up the same defensive formula it did Friday.

A notable part of that formula will be keeping UGA’s Lacey Fincher from coming to the plate with players on base. She leads the Bulldogs in almost every offensive category and is an RBI threat every time she steps in the box, even if it is just a solo home run. She went 1-3 in the opener, with her one hit leading off the sixth before anyone else had a chance to get on base.

From an offensive standpoint, the Tigers will need more production out of their first four hitters. Brooke Wilmes, Cayla Kessinger, Hatti Moore and Kimberly Wert went a combined 2-15 on Friday. Though Moore contributed with a two-run homer in the third, the Tigers will still be looking for the top of the order to step up for the remainder of the series.