April 17, 2010

Saints Blank Patriots, Advance to PBC Title Game

Box Score

FLORENCE, SC – The North Georgia softball team continued their dominance on Saturday afternoon at the Peach Belt Conference tournament, blanking Francis Marion 6-0 to advance to the championship game on Sunday afternoon at Freedom Florence Park.

North Georgia runs their undefeated mark to 44-0, while moving to 11-2 all-time in the PBC tournament, including seven straight dating back to a 9-0 shutout over Georgia Southwestern in the opening round of the 2009 tournament.

The Saints also extend a mark of six consecutive shutouts that runs exactly a week when North Georgia defeated GCSU 5-0 in game two of a doubleheader last Saturday. Francis Marion drops to 33-13 on the year, falling to the Saints for the third time this season.

The Saints scored the first runs of the game in the second inning as Hilary Cox led the charge with a single up the middle, and Pilar Harden stepped to the dish two batters later, falling behind in the count before fouling off a series of pitches, but finally found one she could handle and sent a laser down the left field that sailed out of the park and gave North Georgia a 2-0 lead.

Natasha Willemse followed the blast and coaxed a walk and Laura Voyles followed with a line drive to left center that just cleared the fence for the second two-run homer of the frame and a 4-0 advantage.

Harden was at it again in the third inning after Katherine Martin reached on an error, the Watkinsville, Ga., native hit another bullet, this time to the gap in right center to send Martin racing home and stretch the Saints’ lead to 5-0.

Katherine Martin drove in the final run of the game in the fifth inning with a groundout to first base, sending Courtney McGuire racing home, sliding in under the tag to give the Saints a 6-0 victory.

Sarah Phillips (37-0) tossed her 32nd complete game of the season, and 20th shutout of the year, both marks that lead the nation as the junior lowered her earned run average to 0.70. She allowed five hits and four walks, while striking out five with her 102 pitches, 62 of which were strikes.

North Georgia advances to the Championship round for the third consecutive year, taking on Francis Marion who emerged from the loser's bracket Saturday evening with a victory over USC Aiken. The first championship game is set for Sunday afternoon at 12:00 p.m., with the if necessary game to follow at 2:30 p.m.