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Duke softball drops series finale to Georgia Tech after splitting Friday doubleheader

Raine Wilson had two hits Sunday, but a costly error in the field resulted in a big inning for Georgia Tech.
Raine Wilson had two hits Sunday, but a costly error in the field resulted in a big inning for Georgia Tech.

Following two close games during Friday’s doubleheader, season-long offensive struggles returned Sunday as the Blue Devils dropped the series finale. 

After yet another scheduling change due to Saturday's rain, Duke faced Georgia Tech twice Friday at Duke Softball Stadium, taking home game one 2-1 and dropping game two 4-3. With a chance to win the series, the Blue Devils fell short 5-3 Sunday afternoon against the Yellow Jackets, failing to get any real momentum going before it was too late. 

“We came out a little flat today,” Duke head coach Marissa Young said Sunday. “We finished strong, as usual. Our team has a lot of fight—we just need to come out with that energy to start the game.”

Friday’s doubleheader was the Blue Devils' sixth occasion facing the same opponent twice in a day since the start of March, largely due to weather-related changes. This weekend’s series against Georgia Tech was no different, and the rain forced a full day off between games. 

To start the series, the Blue Devils and Yellow Jackets were neck and neck, each scoring a run in the second inning. The game went to extra innings tied at one, and Duke (20-20, 6-9 in the ACC) took home the win with a run in the bottom of the eighth on a single by Amelia Wiercioch with the bases loaded. The Blue Devils had six hits, with both Peyton St. George and Wiercioch driving in a run. 

A few hours later, Duke and Georgia Tech were battling out another close one. The Blue Devils scored three runs by the end of the fourth inning and kept the Yellow Jackets (21-17, 7-5) off the scoreboard, but in the top of the sixth, Wiercioch allowed four hits and Georgia Tech put three runs on the board. The Yellow Jackets added a fourth in the top of the seventh, taking home the win. 

Sunday’s game got off to a slow start, scoreless through two innings with very little action on the field. To start the third inning, Georgia Tech got the ball rolling with a home run from Kelsey Chisholm over the wall in right-center field. With two outs, Duke couldn't get out of the inning, as the Yellow Jackets drove in before a short line drive to third base slipped through Raine Wilson's glove, allowing them to score two more times. 

It finally seemed as though the Blue Devils had a chance to swing the momentum when Wiercioch hit a bomb out to center field with two runners on base, but a spectacular extension and jump from Georgia Tech outfielder Draven Sonnon robbed the Blue Devils of a potential three-run homer that would have put the game back within reach. 

Haley Wymbs got Duke on the scoreboard with a bases-loaded single that scored Kortney Dry, but the Blue Devils generally struggled to capitalize on scoring opportunities. Duke is currently averaging seven runners left on base each game, an indication of its difficulty to deliver clutch hits and find home plate consistently. Duke stranded multiple runners in three innings Sunday against the Yellow Jackets. 

“We’ve out-hit teams that we’ve lost to numerous games,” Young said. “I think it’s just a matter of us not putting too much pressure on ourselves and having a better approach at the plate when we have runners on base in scoring position.” 

The Blue Devils had at least as many hits as Georgia Tech in all three games of the series, but couldn't string together enough at once to mount enough rallies. After leaving the bases loaded in the fifth inning, Duke immediately saw another home run for Georgia Tech, pushing the score to 5-1.

In the bottom of the seventh, a glimmer of hope shone through for the Blue Devils when Wilson hit a double to deep center field, bringing in two runs for the Blue Devils and making a comeback possible, but Wilson couldn't advance any further. 

Moving forward, the Blue Devils will look to create more offense players in scoring position and turn their impressive contact hitting into runs more often. Duke next faces Charlotte on the road in a rescheduled game Tuesday and continues ACC play next weekend with a series at Notre Dame.


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