Dale Long, Director of Sports Information
LAWRENCEVILLE – Senior Sydney Willhite connected on a three-run walk-off home run to cap a five-run ninth inning as the No. 5-ranked Georgia Gwinnett College softball team swept a doubleheader against No. 7 University of Mobile (Ala.) on Sunday afternoon at the Grizzly Softball Complex.
The Grizzlies (7-3) held off a Mobile rally in the seventh inning to win the opener 4-3 before coming back to win the nightcap 9-8 in nine innings, thanks to Willhite’s blast.
After allowing four runs with two outs to trail 8-4 in the top of the ninth inning, GGC’s comeback started with run-scoring singles from freshman Kendall Baer and sophomore Sydney Pelaez. That got the team within two, 8-6. Then, with two runners on base, Willhite sent a 3-1 pitch deep over the left field wall to provide a thrilling conclusion to the contest.
The Grizzlies forced extra innings on a RBI single in the bottom of the seventh inning from Pelaez, tying the game 4-4. The hosts left the bases loaded after back-to-back fielder’s choice plays. The team also stranded the game-winning run at third base in the eighth inning.
In the ninth frame, Mobile (1-3) took a 6-4 lead on a two-run single from Eila Infante. Back-to-back run-scoring singles from Allison Vincent and Lindsie Sanders gave the Rams the 8-4 advantage.
But, the Grizzlies had an answer yet again.
Baer and Pelaez led GGC’s 13-hit offensive attack, with each recording three hits. Pelaez joined Willhite in driving in three runs, while Baer scored twice. Senior Anya Vandersip and Willhite each had two hits for the team.
In the opener, sophomore Alexa Good struck out five batters and kept the Rams off the scoreboard until the seventh inning. Sophomore Lea McFadden hit a three-run home run in the sixth inning to give Georgia Gwinnett College a 4-0 advantage.
Willhite hit a double down the left field line to score Pelaez in the second inning for a 1-0 lead.
Mobile threatened in the seventh inning, trimming the deficit to 4-2 on a RBI single by Courtney Ellzey. A sacrifice fly brought home another run after GGC went to reliever Gracie Hogg. The right hander induced Kaylee Pullin to fly out to right field to secure the victory.
Hogg went the distance in the pitching circle in the second contest to improve her record to 3-1 on the season.
The Grizzlies were gaining momentum with each at bat in the deciding ninth inning. Freshman Kendall Baer led off the inning with a single to bring home senior RaeQuinn Rossetti, who had been placed at second base through the international tiebreaker rule. A wild pitch and a walk to juniorPiper Wagner put runners on the corner. Sophomore Sydney Pelaez delivered a RBI single to score Baer, cutting the deficit to 8-6. Then, senior Sydney Willhite hit a towering three-run walk-off home run to cap the exciting victory and doubleheader sweep.
“When the game gives you an opportunity, who is going to take advantage of it?” said Head Coach Kat Ihlenburg. “Sydney (Willhite) is a veteran in our lineup. You want someone like her in those situations to win the game. The pressure was off us when we started the inning (trailing 8-4). You’re not thinking about getting the winning run, just trying to start something and pass along energy to the next player. That’s what we did tonight.”
GGC improves to 7-3 on the season; Mobile falls to 1-3 in 2020. The series is now tied at 4-4, with the Grizzlies winning the last three meetings.
Georgia Gwinnett College is scheduled to compete in the NFCA Leadoff Classic in Columbus, Ga., from Feb. 28-March 1.