March 26, 2010

Hurricanes Held at Bay, Saints' Perfection Intact

Game 1 | Game 2

DAHLONEGA, GA – The top-ranked North Georgia softball team continued their perfect run with a 5-3 and 3-0 doubleheader sweep over Georgia Southwestern on Friday afternoon as the Saints close in on their second straight Peach Belt Conference regular season championship.

North Georgia’s magic number now sits at four to claim the 2010 PBC softball championship following a sweep of the Hurricanes that saw the Saints’ record move to 31-0 overall and 14-0 in the Peach Belt Conference. Georgia Southwestern falls to 14-27 on the year and 2-12 in league action.
 
In game one, the Hurricanes got off to a quick start as Heather Hodge led off the game with a double to left field and came around to score on a throwing error by Natasha Willemse, giving Georgia Southwestern a 1-0 lead.

In bottom half of the inning, North Georgia knotted the score at a run apiece as Lauren Dykes reached on a bunt single, advanced to second on a groundout, and raced home as Leslee Smith reached on an error to make it a 1-1 game.

Dykes was at it again in the third inning as the freshman came to the plate with two outs and the bases empty and slapped a home run over the right field fence to give North Georgia their first lead of the day at 2-1.

The Saints went back to work in the fifth inning and used four hits to plate three runs and take a 5-1 lead. Pilar Harden led off the inning with a line drive single to left field and came around to score on a Kasey Knight single for the first run of the frame, while Dykes and Courtney McGuire both logged RBI hits to create the four-run advantage.

The Hurricanes fought back with a pair of solo homers late as Lyndi Duff sent a blast to left field in the sixth, and Megan Wilkerson followed with the same result in the seventh, but the Saints held on for the 5-3 game one victory.

Sarah Phillips was credited with the win in all 7.0 innings of work, allowing three runs on five hits while walking one and striking out seven. Mariko Nomura (5-15) was the losing pitcher in the opener, tossing 4.2 innings and allowing all five North Georgia runs, four earned, on six hits while striking out two.

Offense was hard to come by in game two as the Saints added single runs in three different innings to cap the scoring. North Georgia scored their first run of the game in the opening frame as Hilary Cox notched an infield single to plate Dykes and make it a 1-0 game.

In the fifth, McGuire showed signs of breaking out of her mid-season slump with a bullet line drive triple to right center, sending Dykes racing home for the second time in the game and giving the Saints a 2-0 lead. Callie Fernandez came off the bench in the sixth and ripped a single down the first base line, plating Harden and giving North Georgia the 3-0 victory.

Phillips improved to 25-0 with the nightcap victory, allowing just one hit as Gabby Buck broke up the no-hitter in the seventh with a lead-off single, but the junior settled in and shut down the Hurricanes for her 12th shutout of the season and 22nd complete game. The Powell, Ohio, native matched her season-high in strikeouts with 12, while facing just three batters over the minimum. 

North Georgia will have the rest of the weekend off before traveling to Huntsville, Alabama, to take on 6th-ranked Alabama-Huntsville on Tuesday afternoon with first pitch of the doubleheader set for 2:00 p.m.