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Cowgirls hold off Bulldogs despite late surge, advance in WCWS

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OSU Softball WCWS - Reagan Wright

Oklahoma State first baseman Alysen Febrey missed it. 

Second baseman Karli Petty missed it. But right fielder Hayley Busby didn't. Running up from the outfield, Busby fielded the single by Georgia catcher Payden Bordeau, quickly and aggressively firing the ball back into the infield, and catching left fielder Sydney Chambley at home by mere inches. 

It was a vital defensive play at a crucial moment in OSU's 3-2 victory over Georgia at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City. The win advances OSU in the WCWS pool bracket, facing James Madison in the winner's bracket Friday at 6:00 p.m. CT. 

"I mean, that was a huge play," pitcher Carrie Eberle said. "The momentum really could have shifted there. But she shut it down. That is what you need, what you're asking for from her."

Offense was at a premium for each team, with the teams combining for five runs and 12 hits. 

OSU broke the scoring open with center fielder Chyenne Factor in the third inning, hitting a home run to centerfield, barely trickling over the wall to score herself and designated player Avery Hobson. 

"That pitch, it was kind of up if I remember correctly," Factor said. "I just decided to swing and not be defensive and good things happened."

Georgia's best chance to score came in the seventh inning. Shortstop Ellie Armistead doubled into the left-center gap to score right fielder Jaiden Fields. It also put two runners in scoring position with one out, down one run.

Coaches Kenny Gajewski and John Bargfeldt visited Eberle on the mound, deciding to keep her in. She was able to get the next two batters to pop out and ground out to end the game.

"It really was just you need one good pitch," Eberle said. "The second out is the most important. If you can there, the defense behind you will take it home."

The Bulldogs didn't get their first hit until the fourth inning, but would go on to out-hit the Cowgirls 7-5 in the game. UGA scored its first run in the sixth, when designated player Sara Mosley singled to right field, scoring second baseman Sydney Kuma, despite Busby's efforts to throw another batter out at home. 

In the bottom frame of the sixth, OSU earned back the run, with Alysen Febrey singling to center on a hard-hit ball, scoring shortstop Kiley Naomi. 

The Cowgirls committed three errors Thursday, something uncharacteristic of the team. Febrey had two, a bobble on a groundball against the first batter of the day, and a dropped ball against the lead-off batter in the seventh inning.

"I think for her there was some added pressure here today," Gajewski said. "She didn't let it bother her. I just looked at her and said 'Hey make the next play' that is it." 

Catcher Reagan Wright was also called for obstruction of home plate on the second throw home by Busby, the third error by OSU. 

Pitcher Carrie Eberle started for the Cowgirls, throwing a complete game and not allowing a hit until the fourth inning. She saw success with the groundball, getting 16 of Georgia's 21 outs via the ground out. 

Eberle earned the win, and her season record improved to 26-3. 

UGA pitcher Mary Wilson Avant threw six innings, allowing five hits, three runs with five strikeouts. She was awarded the loss, and he season record fell to 20-11. 

"I think just being able to throw a complete game is always satisfying just to know that you were able to do it from start to finish," Eberle said.

sports.ed@ocolly.com