DURHAM –Duke scored the game’s final 12 points, rallying from an early 5-1 deficit to beat Georgia, 13-5, and win the NCAA Softball Durham Regional on a historic Sunday at Duke Softball Stadium.
The Blue Devils (44-9) were on the verge of elimination after losing Sunday’s opener, 5-3, to the Bulldogs (43-18), forcing the night’s win-win contest to advance to the Great Regional. The comeback win puts 12th-seeded Duke in the Super Regional for the first time in the program’s five-year history where it will face fifth-seeded UCLA next weekend in Los Angeles.
Kristina Foreman finished the deciding 2-on-2 game with five RBIs, including a three-run double punting on Duke’s six-run, sixth-inning push. Jala Wright came in relief and slammed the door on the Bulldogs, pitching three perfect innings with four strikeouts to pick up the win.
The Bulldogs would fend off elimination by winning the day’s opener, 5-3. The two teams traded blows throughout the contest, with Duke striking first on a Rachel Crabtree sacrifice caries. Georgia would respond with three straight runs off a Jayda Kearney triple and an Ellie Armistead double to jump ahead, 3-1.
Duke would use four singles in the fifth inning, including Foreman’s RBI base hit to earn a run, but Georgia answered with a run in the bottom half of the frame. Jameson Kavel would again get the Blue Devils within one after an RBI single in the sixth, but the Bulldogs added an insurance run via a Kearney single to ultimately secure the win, 5-3.
In game two, Georgia came out the door swinging hot bats and opened the contest with two runs top of the first. Foreman cut the lead in half after his RBI sacrifice flew into the bottom frame, but the Bulldogs would take their biggest lead of the contest in the second inning after tackling three runs to create a 5-1 gap between the teams. .
Duke wouldn’t be discouraged though, throwing its third four-or-more-run comeback this season in the third inning. With two outs in the frame, the Blue Devils caught fire, as Crabtree started the rally with a brace. foreman and Caroline Jacobson immediately followed by back-to-back RBI hits to cut the Bulldogs’ lead to two. Kelly Torres ended the big inning by scoring two more runs on a double to left center field to tie the game at 5-5.
The Blue Devils broke the deadlock in the fifth inning with a six-run frame to take an 11-5 lead. Duke charged the no-out bases to pitch its second inning several times of the game. Kamryn Jackson drew a base-laden march to finally give Duke the lead for good.
Kavel added an RBI sacrificial fly during the frame before Foreman’s clutch double extended Duke’s advantage to 10-5. Already Davis finished the inning with an RBI single to create a six-run buffer for the home side.
The next frame, Duke closed the door on his SEC foe with the game’s final two runs to end the contest early. Torres reached on a blow-by-blow front Sarah Godard recorded a single to put two runners on base. Two batters later, Kavel cleared the bases with the team’s fifth double of the night to clinch the 13-5 victory.
- The win from behind marks Duke’s first this season as they trailed after the fourth set (1-8).
- Foreman’s five RBIs in the win over Georgia set a new Duke NCAA Championship single-game record.
- Kavel hit 250 college career hits in the win, becoming the first Blue Devil to hit the milestone.
- Kavel’s winning double in the sixth set also set a new single-season program record, breaking Raine Wilsonturns 15 in 2018.
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