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Lauren Mathis (00), a freshman from Windermere, Florida, pitches at the Jack Turner Stadium in Athens, Georgia on March 7, 2018. The University of Georgia softball team won against Western Carolina University, 6-0. (Photo/Rebecca Wright, http://rebeccamariewright.com/)

During a streaky offensive performance from the Georgia softball team, the depth of the pitching staff showed up and helped Georgia to a 5-1 win over the Georgia State Panthers on Wednesday.

Wednesday marked the last game of a five-game homestand for the Bulldogs. 

Amanda Ablan earned her first start and ninth appearance of the season in the circle for the Bulldogs, and she was just happy to be there and play a role in the win.

“Definitely loved having my teammates behind me,” Ablan said. “Every pitch just look back and see them there and [Mahlena O’Neal] catching me was great.”

Although Ablan hasn’t featured much during the season, both her and assistant coach Rachele Fico thought the start was well deserved because of her competitiveness during practice as of late.

“She’s been working hard at practice and good things have been showing up,” Fico said. “We ran her out there to see what we could get from her and she gave us two shutdown innings.”

Ablan was able to get out of a few jams like in the top of the second, but eventually was pulled in favor of Alley Cutting after the junior walked a batter to start the third inning. Ablan and Fico both thought that their change of styles was needed to stay in control of the game and Cutting was a good “offset.”

“Alley [Cutting] is much heavier down in the zone,” Fico said. “She’s got a really good drop-ball. She works pretty much more with downspin, can get us weak ground balls.”

Cutting, a more seasoned pitcher, put in three solid innings for Georgia, but gave up the only run of the game on a home run in the top of the fifth. The redshirt junior struck out three during her outing, before making way for Lauren Mathis in the sixth to close out the game.

Mathis, who closed out Saturday’s loss to Tennessee, has been featured in a closing role for the Bulldogs during the home stint and has done quite well. Fico believed she’s done a good job as that closer, but can really feature in any situation and her versatility is much needed for the pitching staff.

The Bulldogs are known to stick with their dominant pitcher for a whole game, but Wednesday showed that they can also fall back onto a strong and versatile bullpen, especially with the postseason looming.

“It’s definitely nice to have depth,” Fico said. “They all bring different looks to the game and so it’s really nice to be able to use different people and I think it makes it harder for people to prepare for us. I think they complement each other really well.”

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