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Georgia infielder Sara Mosley (33) jogs to first base after being walked by the pitcher during a NCAA softball game on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020, at the Jack Turner Softball Stadium in Athens, Georgia. Georgia defeated Alabama State 9-1 in six innings. (Photo/Julian Alexander, jalexander@randb.com)

For the first time this season, Georgia watched the visitors celebrate at Jack Turner Stadium. The No. 13 Bulldogs fell to No. 15 South Carolina Gamecocks 4-2 in both teams' conference opener.

“I don’t think we can let this affect us going into tomorrow and the rest of the series,” senior Mary Wilson Avant said. “We just have to come out [and] have really big intent tomorrow and just come out gritty.”

The Gamecocks separated from the Bulldogs in the third inning when they scored two runs coming off two Georgia errors — one from shortstop Sydney Kuma and the other from second baseman Savana Sikes.

Haley Simpson led off the inning with a single for the Gamecocks and advanced to second off Kuma’s throwing error. In the next at-bat, Kenzi Maguire laid down a sacrifice bunt that tipped off Sikes’ glove as she covered first base and into the outfield, allowing Simpson to make it 3-0.

“I think anytime you lose the freebie war you make it tough on yourselves,” Georgia head coach Lu Harris-Champer said.

The two-run third inning came after South Carolina got on the board in the top of the first. Avant walked the second hitter she faced, who later stole second. With two outs and the runner in scoring position, South Carolina’s Kassidy Krupit drove in her first run of the day with a single to give the Gamecocks an early 1-0 lead.

Georgia’s offense came back from the deficit in the fourth to score two runs of its own, one from sophomore CJ Landrum and another from freshman Sara Mosley to cut the lead down to 3-2.

After allowing three runs in the first three innings, Avant settled in and threw three straight shutout innings while striking out five hitters and leaving five runners on base.

Avant pitched a complete game and finished with 13 strikeouts and eight walks. Friday’s game came after a busy weekend for Avant after she threw 18 scoreless innings against Western Carolina, Boston College and Eastern Illinois.

“I definitely got my rest, recovered this week and was ready to be out here,” Avant said.

In its first SEC series of the year, Georgia will have a chance to even up the three-game set at home when they play South Carolina again tomorrow again on Sunday afternoon to end the conference opener.

“We’ve done it plenty of times to bounce back,” Avant said. “We just have to come out tomorrow, be gritty and have intent with everything we do.”