CLEARWATER, Fla. – The Texas Tech softball team (7-2) continued action in Florida with a 5-2 win over No. 15 Georgia before suffering a 3-0 loss to South Florida on day three of the St. Pete Clearwater Elite Invitational on Saturday at Eddie C. Moore Complex.
Breanna Russell stepped up for the Texas Tech offense and launched her second home run of the weekend while transfer GiGi Wall earned the win in Tech's three-run victory over the Bulldogs. The Red Raiders out-hit Georgia 8-7 and junior Erin Edmoundson picked up her first save of the season.
Tech struggled later in the day and dropped its second game of the season to South Florida. Heaven Burton boasted two of Tech's three hits and Peyton Blythe was the other Red Raider to register a hit against the Bulls.
GAME 1: No. 17 Texas Tech 5, No. 15 Georgia 2
The Red Raiders rose to the occasion and earned their second ranked victory of the year in a clean effort against the Georgia Bulldogs. After recording a 1-2-3 inning out on the field, the Red Raiders wasted no time getting to work in the bottom half of the first.
Karli Hamilton kicked off Tech's offensive efforts with a walk and an error by the Georgia pitcher allowed Burton to reach first safely immediately after. Russell chopped a single to short to load the bases and Zoe Jones gave Tech a 1-0 advantage when she drilled an RBI single into left-center field.
In the next at-bat, Kelcy Leach hit a ball to the Georgia second baseman, who then tried to throw Burton out at the plate. However, her throw sailed past the catcher and Burton came home safely to put Tech ahead, 2-0.
Both teams went down in order in the second inning, but a walk, a fielder's choice and two singles from Leach and Shelby Henderson loaded the bases for the Red Raiders once again. Freshman Brianna Cantu came up to the plate and smoked a ball to the Georgia shortstop, but the Bulldogs were able to turn a double play and Tech was held scoreless in the third.
Wall continued to battle, but a leadoff triple and an RBI single plated a run for the Bulldogs on no outs in the top of the fourth. Despite the swing of momentum, the Red Raiders responded with a 6-4-3 double play and Wall squashed the Bulldogs' comeback with her third strikeout of the day.
Determined to push Tech's lead, Blythe blasted a leadoff double to the right-center field wall to start the bottom of the inning. In her second start of the season, Alanna Barraza ripped an RBI single into right field and Blythe sprinted home to push the Red Raiders lead to 3-1.
Wall used two more strikeouts to close out the top of the fifth, but she was relieved of her duties after a pair of singles placed runners on first and second in the top of the sixth. Edmoundson, who entered the circle with one out, induced one grounder but Georgia's third single of the inning plated one run to cut into Tech's lead, 3-2.
A key, one-out walk to Hamilton got the Red Raiders rolling in the bottom of the frame and, after a Red Raider strikeout, Russell came up to the plate primed with a big opportunity. On a 1-0 count, she bowed up and blasted a two-run homer over the left-field wall to give the Red Raiders a three-run cushion.
Needing just three outs to seal the win, Edmoundson used a quick pop up and a strikeout after a walk to put the end of the game in sight. Georgia interrupted her efforts with a single to first base but an all-out effort in foul territory by Russell marked the final out and Tech clinched the 5-2 win over the 15th-ranked Bulldogs for its seventh victory of the season.
Racking up five strikeouts, Wall earned her first win of the season and Edmoundson picked up her first save of the year. Russell and Jones led Tech with two hits apiece and four Red Raiders – Leach, Henderson, Blythe and Barraza – tallied one hit.
GAME 2: South Florida 3, No. 17 Texas Tech 0
After a quiet top of the first, South Florida notched the first hit of the game and used an untimely, Red Raider error to move runners to second and third. However, an easy grounder to Zoch and a fly out to left field helped the Red Raider escape the jam.
Henderson got the Red Raiders going with a walk in the top of the second and a Blythe single into center field put the ball in motion. Henderson rounded second and took off for third and it seemed as though she'd be tagged out. However, she ducked down and the South Florida third baseman tripped over her and Henderson avoided the tag.
Despite the advantage, the Red Raiders couldn't capitalize and ended the frame with runners stranded on second and third.
Zoch responded with a 1-2-3 frame in the bottom of the inning and Burton tried to spark the Tech lineup with a two-out double in the top of the third. However, Burton was caught trying to steal third and Tech was unable to gain an edge.
The Tech defense responded with a goose egg in the bottom of the inning, but a three-run home run off Zoch in the bottom of the fourth put the Red Raiders at a 3-0 deficit.
Leach was hit by a pitch to start the fifth and freshman Tori Whillock entered the game to run for the Tech catcher. When she attempted to steal second, the South Florida catcher's throw went awry and Whillock was able to motor over to third. Miranda Padilla drew a walk to put runners on the corners, but Tech continued to struggle at the plate and a ground ball to first base ended Tech's threat.
South Florida started the bottom of the fifth with its sixth hit of the game and Tech turned to Edmoundson for her second relief effort of the day. In her fourth appearance of the weekend, she fielded a bunt and used two strikeouts to prompt the top of the sixth.
Burton kicked off the inning with a single through the right side, but three straight outs followed Tech's third hit of the game.
Edmoundson and the Red Raiders held off the Bulls once more in the bottom of the sixth, and Tech immediately put pressure on the South Florida defense in the top of the seventh. Leach was plunked by a pitch for a second time and pinch hitter Brianna Cantu was drilled as well to give Tech a pair of runners.
However, the Red Raiders were unable to make up ground and dropped their second game of the season, 3-0. Zoch, who moves to 2-2 on the season, was issued the loss after throwing four complete innings.
COMING UP NEXT
The Red Raiders will close out the St. Pete Clearwater Elite Invitational tomorrow with a 9 a.m. (CT) contest against No. 1 Washington. Live stats, as well as a broadcast on ESPNU, will be available for the game. For all the latest information on the Texas Tech softball team, visit TexasTech.com or follow @TexasTechSB on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.