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Georgia right-handed pitcher Mary Wilson Avant (5) smiles from the dugout 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)

Senior pitcher Mary Wilson Avant sits among SEC leaders in wins, strikeouts and starts after establishing herself as Georgia’s ace in the Bulldog Classic from Feb. 28-March 1.

Avant played a key role in Georgia’s success during the five-game weekend as she collected three wins while throwing 18 of the 33 innings the Bulldogs played. By the end of her third outing of the set, she had thrown a total of 273 pitches.

Avant is no stranger to the workhorse role. Last year as a junior, she led the team in innings pitched, proving her durability.

“I don’t get overly sore in my arm,” Avant said. “I’m fortunate in that way.”

She threw 60 innings through her first 12 appearances this year and only threw 46 over that same span last season.

During the Bulldog Classic, she threw two complete game shutouts and capped it off by contributing four innings in Georgia’s first no-hitter of 2020. She recorded a new career high in strikeouts, fanning 15 of the 26 batters she faced Friday, besting her previous career high by three.

Avant gave up two hits in Friday’s game, and that total would end up being her highest of the weekend. She improved to just one hit in Saturday’s start and threw four hitless innings in Sunday’s contest.

“[Avant] really commanded both sides of the plate, changed speeds and just worked her stuff,” associate head coach Tony Baldwin said. “It was fun to watch.”

Assistant coach and former All-American pitcher Rachele Fico focuses most of her efforts on the pitching staff. Fico has coached at Georgia since 2016, and this is her fourth season working with Avant. Head coach Lu-Harris Champer credits her with a lot of the growth Avant has shown throughout her career at Georgia. The two have a great relationship, Harris Champer said.

“[Avant] and coach Fico come into the dugout and you just hear them talking and growing the game,” Harris-Champer said. “I’m really proud of their efforts together and the maturity and the leadership that Mary brings to our team.”

Harris-Champer isn’t the only one to notice Avant’s leadership. Her teammates have too, and they’ve grown accustomed to her success.

“[Avant] was amazing,” fellow pitcher Amanda Ablan said following their combined no-hitter. “You expect nothing less from her.”