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Georgia softball advances to regional finals
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ATHENS — The ninth-ranked University of Georgia softball team (45-11) held 24th-ranked Florida State (44-17) to just four hits and topped the Seminoles 5-2 in the winner’s bracket of the NCAA’s Athens Regional on Saturday at the Georgia Softball Stadium.

Bulldogs junior Sarah McCloud highlighted the victory for Georgia after striking out a season-high seven and only allowing three hits in five innings. McCloud highlighted her performance by posting a no-hitter through three innings, including striking out the side in the third.

Georgia, the top seed in the Athens regional and No. 6 national seed, will play host to Radford in the championship game at noon today. If necessary, a second game will be played on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. to determine the winner of the Athens Regional.

Sophomore Kristyn Sandberg led the Bulldogs offensive charge going 2-for-4 with two RBI while junior Megan Wiggins was 3-for-4 with an RBI and two stolen bases.

The game was scoreless through three innings with the Seminoles dodging trouble in the top of the third. Florida State managed to get out of a bases-loaded jam with no outs after junior Sarah Hamilton struck out Sandberg to end the inning. Wiggins, who is now tied for sixth in school history with a 17-game hitting streak, drilled her 15th double of the year earlier in the frame.

But with two outs in the fourth, the Bulldogs generated their first runs of the game. Sophomore Ashley Pauly (1-for-4) started the rally with a line-drive single up the middle and then stole second.

Junior Taylor Schlopy (1-for-3) followed by running out an infield single and Pauly was able to score on a Seminoles throwing error to first base. Wiggins then slapped an RBI single up the middle to push Schlopy in, making it 2-0.

Georgia managed to plate another run in the fifth after junior Brianna Hesson (2-for-3) drew a walk to open the inning. After pinch runner Macie Couey stole second, Sandberg hit a drive to center to score Couey and give the Bulldogs a 3-0 lead.

The Seminoles made up a pair of those runs in the bottom the fifth. Freshman Tiffani Brown laced a two-out RBI single up the middle to score pinch runner Courtney Rosen for Florida State’s first run. Junior Brittany Joseph, who was running for Torry Haddad, made the score 3-2 after crossing home plate on a McCloud wild pitch later in the inning.

In the top of the seventh, Hesson ripped an RBI double to the gap in right center to score pinch runner Sara Sikes from second and make the score 4-2. Sikes had taken the base paths for junior Alisa Goler (1-for-3) after she hit a one-out double to start the rally.

Sandberg continued the scoring in the seventh by slipping an RBI single through the left side of the infield. The Bulldogs’ 11th hit of the day scored Hesson from third and gave Georgia a 5-2 edge.

Sophomore Erin Arevalo closed out the final two innings for Georgia to earn her second save of the season. The right-hander gave up one hit and had two strikeouts to give the Bulldogs a 27-3 mark versus non-conference teams this year.

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