Georgia, Michigan set for elimination game

May, 30, 2009
05/30/09
6:06
PM ET
Michigan vs. Georgia
7 p.m. ET | ESPN, ESPN360

It doesn't hurt to have two pitchers if you're going to make your way out of the losers' bracket. Georgia got the game it needed out of ace Christie Hamilton against Missouri on Saturday afternoon, and odds are that means it's Sarah McCloud's turn to try to keep the season going in an elimination game against Michigan in the nightcap.

A sophomore who is 17-2 with a 2.62 ERA, McCloud is as much of a contact pitcher as there is in the World Series field; she strikes out just 3.2 batters per seven innings (no power pitcher herself, Hamilton still strikes out 5.4 batters per seven innings). That's going to put the pressure on a very good Georgia defense to continue making plays against a Michigan lineup that puts the ball in play -- striking out fewer times per game than any team in the Big Ten.

Michigan coach Carol Hutchins again has a choice of her own at pitcher, but history (and a chance to go lefty-lefty against Georgia slugger Alisa Goler) points to Nikki Nemitz getting the ball. Both Jordan Taylor and Nemitz pitched well against Florida on Friday night, so there's no obvious reason to skip Nemitz in what has been a pretty consistent every-other-game rotation.

The only potentially worrisome factor might be the success Georgia had in the regionals against North Carolina's Danielle Spaulding, another lefty with a good rise ball. The Bulldogs got to her for seven hits and four earned runs on Spaulding's home field on May 16.

Player to Watch: Alisa Goler
The standout sophomore walked and drove in a run against Missouri, but she's still looking for her first World Series hit. The Bulldogs have a dangerous lineup from top to bottom, but unless McCloud comes up with the game of her life, it's probably going to take three or four runs to win. And those are going to be difficult to get if the team's best hitter, and one of the best in the nation, is silent.

Graham Hays covers college sports for espnW, including softball and soccer. Hays began with ESPN in 1999.

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