MACON, Ga. - Just over a week after the Mercer baseball team downed Georgia Tech 10-1, the Mercer softball team picked up a convincing 9-1 win over the in-state rivals on Wednesday night at Sikes Field.
The Bears (23-23, 10-8 A-Sun) capitalized on four Georgia Tech errors and produced six clutch hits to run-rule the Yellow Jackets (18-22, 5-4 ACC) in five innings. With the win, the Bears sweep the season home-and-home series with Georgia Tech, having won the first meeting in Atlanta back on February 20.
Senior Kerri Nidiffer paced the Bears win by pitching arguably her most complete game of the season on Wednesday, giving up just two hits and one earned run. She struck out two batters en route to her 11th win and 10th complete game of the campaign.
After Georgia Tech jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the second, the Bears would respond in their half of the inning by scoring two go-ahead runs. A fairly routine fly ball to left off the bat of junior McKenzie Woody was mishandled by Tech's Morgan Taylor, which led to the two runs to come across. Woody finished 1-for-3 in the game and extended her current hitting streak to six games.
An RBI groundout by freshman Ashton Holt in the third extended the Bears' lead to 3-1, before the Bears would open things up in the fourth. Five runs came across for Mercer in the fifth off three hits and two more Georgia Tech errors.
A lead-off walk by freshman Natalie Shiver and single by freshman Marissa Botz gave the Bears two early base runners. The speedy Woody forced Georgia Tech's starting third baseman into committing an error on the next play and quickly Mercer had the bases loaded and nobody out.
Freshman Kaytlin Haney then drew an RBI walk to score one run and perhaps more importantly, kept the bases loaded for junior Krista Kennedy. Kennedy laced a single through the left side that scored two runs to give her a team-leading 51 RBI on the year.
Two more runs would come across in the fifth off the Yellow Jacket's fourth error and a subsequent wild pitch. At the end of five, the Bears had a commanding 8-1 lead.
Nidiffer worked through a clean fifth inning inside the circle, giving the Bears a shot at ending things early. In the bottom of the fifth, a lead-off double by Marissa Botz put the Bears the game-ending run on second. Botz advanced to third on a McKenzie Woody put out to second, setting the stage for senior Sarah Santana.
Santana laced what would have been a double to right center, but because of the game-winning hit she was credited with just a single to end the game.
The Bears return to A-Sun play this weekend as the team heads to Jacksonville to take on North Florida in a pivotal three-game series. Mercer and North Florida begin the series with a doubleheader scheduled for a 1 p.m. start on Saturday.