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Georgia upsets 2-time defending NCAA Softball champ Florida in super regionals

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – In heartbreaking fashion, Georgia pinch hitter Kaylee Puailoa sent a two-run walk-off homer over the centerfield fence with two down in the bottom of the seventh to send the No. 16 seed Georgia Bulldogs (45-18) to their third WCWS. UGA defeated Florida 3-2 on Friday evening in front of a sellout crowd (2,041) at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.

It looked as if No. 1 seed Florida (56-7), leading the Bulldogs 2-1 from the fifth inning on, would force a decisive game three before Puailoa’s heroics halted the season for the Gators. Georgia won the first game of the series on Thursday, 3-0, and needed one of the two possible games on Friday to advance.

A solo home run in the bottom of the second for Georgia senior catcher Katie Browne put the first run of the game on the board for UGA, but Florida countered in the fifth to go up 2-1.

Florida sophomore Aleshia Ocasio (22-2), who shouldered the loss in the circle for the Gators Friday, helped herself out offensively in the top of the fifth with a leadoff single through the right side, then moved to second on a groundout. Sophomore Nicole DeWitt’s single to center gave the Gators runners on the corners before senior Aubree Munro was pegged in the first of back-to-back Chelsea Wilkinson hit-by-pitches to load the bases. Senior Taylore Fuller pushed Florida’s first run across the dish with the second UGA HBP. Next up, an RBI ground out by Amanda Lorenz gave UF a 2-1 lead after five.

After their best offensive inning in Super Regional play, Florida’s defense followed in suit in the bottom of the fifth with its third three up, three down frame of the game. A Taylor Schwarz SportsCenter Top-10 worthy gem on a foul out over the first-base dugout net gave the Gators fire and momentum before Puailoa’s stunner.

Wilkinson improved to 26-7 with the victory in the circle. Both pitchers in the SEC showdown gave up five hits and walked zero. Ocasio fanned three, Wilkinson just one.

Florida moved to 15-5 all-time in Super Regional play and 72-35 in NCAA Tournament Play.