ATHENS, Ga. -- Chelsea Wilkinson threw a no-hitter and allowed just one base runner as the fourth-seeded Georgia Bulldogs beat NC State 8-0 in five innings in Game 7 of the Athens Regional on Sunday at Jack Turner Stadium to advance to the super regional round of the 2014 NCAA DI Softball Championship.
With the win, Georgia (49-13) advances to its sixth super regional in the past seven years. The Bulldogs also became just the 18th team in NCAA history to win two games on the final day of the regional round to advance to Super Regionals since the tournament switched to the four-team, double-elimination format in 2005.
Wilkinson (33-8) became the first Georgia pitcher to throw a solo no-hitter in a postseason game and just the second time that Georgia has accomplished this feat (Michelle Greene and Kasi Carrol combined for a no-hitter against Eastern Kentucky in the 2004 regional). It was Wilkinson’s second no-hitter of the season and third of her career. Wilkinson pitched five innings and walked just one batter and struck out four. Paige Wilson finished the game 2-for-3 with an RBI and two stolen bases, and finished the weekend a combined 11-for-17 (.647) from the plate with six extra base hits.
"I am so proud of our team for their relentless energy and their fight all day long,” Georgia head coach Lu Harris-Champer said following the game. “It was just so much fun to look around and see everybody smiling and having a great time. It was just so fun to see everybody enjoy each other and embrace the opportunity to compete and to step up to the challenge. I can't say enough about [Chelsea Wilkinson] and [Geri Ann Glasco]. Really, just the offensive production [Glasco] got done today and to get in the circle and close out game one. And Chelsea, wow. She's just amazing. She's incredible."
Emily Weiman (30-15) started the game for the Wolfpack and pitched all five innings, surrendering eight runs on seven hits and five walks with three strikeouts. NC State finishes the season with a record of 36-18 and was fourth in the ACC standings.
Georgia again jumped out to an early lead in game two, scoring two runs in the bottom of the first inning. The first run came on a wild pitch by Weiman that allowed Wilson, who drew a lead off walk, to score from third. Alex Hugo, who also walked earlier in the inning, scored the second run of the inning on a ground out by Tina Iosefa, which gave the Bulldogs a 2-0 lead after one.
The Bulldogs came alive in the bottom of the third, pushing four runs across the plate. Geri Ann Glasco lined a double into the right-center gap and was replaced by Adele Harrison as a pinch runner. After a pop out, Georgia recorded three consecutive two-out RBI hits. Anna Swafford and Kaylee Puailoa each registered RBI singles before Katie Browne crushed a two-run homer into the trees in left-center field. The big inning put the Bulldogs up 6-0 after three.
Georgia completed the run rule victory and clinched their berth into the Super Regional round in the bottom of the fifth, scoring two runs on RBI singles by Maeve McGuire and Paige Wilson. McGuire entered the game as a pinch hitter and drove a single into left field that allowed pinch runner Niaja Griffin to score from second. Two batters later, Wilson punched the Bulldogs’ ticket to the next round of the NCAA championship with an RBI single into center, bringing in McGuire from second.
"I am so excited,” Harris-Champer said about advancing to the Super Regionals. “I'm definitely not ready to be done with this team. This team is special. They lock arms and they band together and fight. I'm so proud that we get the opportunity to go on and compete."