April 6, 2010

No. 1 Saints Clinch Second Straight PBC Title!!

Game 1 | Game 2

DAHLONEGA, GA – A doubleheader sweep on Tuesday afternoon is all the No. 1 team in the country would need to capture the 2010 Peach Belt Conference Championship, knocking off Columbus State University 7-0 and 7-4 as the Saints remained undefeated on the season.

With four games to play in the 2010 regular season, North Georgia has clinched their second consecutive Peach Belt Conference regular season title, running their record to 37-0 overall and 16-0 in the league. As the regular season champions, the Saints, ranked No. 1 in the nation, will be the No. 1 seed in the upcoming PBC tournament in Florence, South Carolina.

Between games, North Georgia and Columbus State recognized cancer survivors and honored those who have passed from the deadly disease. Brent McGuire threw out the first pitch to his daughter, right fielder Courtney McGuire, in honor of his father who passed away in December.

The Saints extend their current Peach Belt Conference record of consecutive home victories, stretching the mark to 37 in a row, a record that dates back to the final series of the 2008 season.

North Georgia is also just three wins away from tying the all-time record for most consecutive wins in Peach Belt Conference history, a record that is currently held by former league member Kennesaw State University as the Owls put together 40 straight victories during their 1995 National Championship season.

The Saints provided plenty of offense in game one as a three-run first inning proved to be all they would need in a 7-0 shutout victory. Hilary Cox provided the blow in the first inning with a two-run double down the left field line to cap the three-run frame.

Columbus State kept the Saints off the scoreboard until the fifth inning when Courtney McGuire connected with her fifth home run of the year, a solo shot down the left field line to make it a 4-0 game. Three more runs in the sixth inning sparked by a two two-run triple from Lauren Dykes sent North Georgia to a 7-0 game one victory.

More offensive firepower for the Saints was on tap in game two as Leslee Smith launched her ninth home run of the season in the first frame, a three-run blast straight away center field to put another three-spot on the board in the opening inning.

Kristi Bullard would give Columbus State some life in the second inning with a two-run homer of her own, plating Kori Waugh and cutting the North Georgia lead to just a run at 3-2.

The Saints answered right back in their half of the second inning, using singles from Kasey Knight and Dykes to add a pair of runs and stretch the lead right back to three at 5-2.

Smith continued her stellar game in the third inning as the senior led off the inning and recorded her 10th home run of the season and second of the game, a solo bomb to left field that without a doubt was one of the longest long balls hit in the history of the Softball Complex.

After solo runs were added on both sides, the game went to seventh inning and Columbus State refused to go away, loading the bases and scoring a run on a Rocky Hemmer single thought the left side to make it a 7-4 North Georgia lead.

Sarah Phillips, who started the game and was removed for Krysten Connelly, was called on for the final out as the junior caught Morgan Staffins looking for the third out of the inning, sending the North Georgia players rushing the field in celebration of the program’s second consecutive PBC championship.

Phillips stayed perfect on the year with two more wins, running her record to a national best 30-0, with 4.1 innings of work in game two, allowing four hits and one earned run while striking out five. The junior dominated the opener with a complete-game shutout, spreading just three hits while striking out 11.

The Saints return to action on Thursday evening, welcoming Lander University to town for the final regular season home games of the 2010 season. The doubleheader against the Bearcats, set to start at 5:00 p.m., will serve as senior day for the four North Georgia players playing in their final regular season games at Haines & Carolyn Hill Stadium.