“The game speaks to you. If you’re paying attention to it, the game will be telling you what to do.” — Two-time Olympic softball gold medalist Michele Smith
ATHENS — Georgia softball has arguably the best hitter in the nation in Alyssa DiCarlo, but as the saying goes, there’s a reason they call it fast “pitch.”
The No. 12-ranked Bulldogs (25-9, 1-5 SEC) either lack the pitching or aren’t using it correctly at this stage of the season.
The result has been a five-game losing streak — UGA’s longest in two years — and a three-game sweep at the hands of No. 6 LSU (28-6, 7-2).
The Tigers used four pitchers in a 7-4 win over the Bulldogs at Jack Turner Stadium on Sunday, spoiling Georgia’s ESPN debut this season.
The nation looked on along with a puzzled capacity crowd of 1,751 as the Bulldogs’ coaching staff left junior Alley Cutting in the circle for seven innings to absorb all nine hits and five runs.
It was surprising because the Tigers had seen 4 2/3 innings of Cutting, a transfer from Kennesaw State, in Saturday’s loss to LSU. Teams hit better against pitchers the more they see them.
DiCarlo, meanwhile, has proven capable of hitting any pitcher, any time.
DiCarlo, one of seven returning starters from last season’s Women’s College World Series team, drove her nation-leading 18th home run out of the park in tying the Georgia career RBI record (236).
LSU had wisely walked DiCarlo her first two at-bats before she drove a two-strike pitch over the wall to pull the Bulldogs to within 5-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Georgia put another rally together in the sixth inning, a solo home run by Justice Milz and a two-run shot from Ciara Bryan cut the deficit to 5-4.
But with a runner on first LSU wisely walked DiCarlo, and two batters later, Mahlena O’Neal lined out to right field with the bases loaded to end the inning.
LSU responded by adding two insurance runs off Cutting in the 7th, driving hard shots outside the foul lines when it wasn’t putting the ball into play.
Georgia associate head coach Tony Baldwin, who now speaks on behalf of head coach Lu Harris-Champer on a regular basis, didn’t offer much of an explanation for how the pitching staff was managed.
Instead he said LSU is a good hitting team — just like Georgia and many of the other SEC teams, with nine ranked in the most recent ESPN Top 25.
“We have a good offensive team, we have good hitters, and we have to be in there prepared to get into the fight better,” Baldwin said, referring to UGA surrendering three runs in the first inning. “We lost a few too many moments early.”
It has been the story of the season for Georgia.
The Bulldogs have been unable to put it all together, the coaches struggling to find the proper batting order.
Georgia stranded 11 runners in the first game of the series against LSU, 8 in the second, and 9 in Sunday’s defeat.
DiCarlo said the team will continue to compete.
“I’m excited about the fight that we’ve shown,” said DiCarlo, who was flawless at shortstop with four assists on Sunday. “We learned a lot from this weekend.
“I think we’ll come out stronger and win more moments.”
It will be up to Harris-Champer, in her 19th year as head coach, to figure out the bullpen and the batting lineup if Georgia is to avoid a sixth straight loss on Wednesday night against Georgia Southern (6 p.m.).
Georgia softball star Alyssa DiCarlo
Georgia softball assistant coach Tony Baldwin
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