Photos by Luzney Photography
– Top-ranked North Georgia stayed perfect on the year Friday
evening with a 5-3 victory over 8th-ranked Lenoir-Rhyne as the two
clubs combined for four home runs in game one of the Southeast
Super Regional at Haines & Carolyn Hill Stadium.
The Saints improve to 49-0 on the year, moving one game closer to their second straight Division II College World Series. North Georgia is also a game away from their third 50-win season in program, and are now just six victories shy of tying the NCAA’s all-time mark for consecutive wins in NCAA softball history.
Lenoir Rhyne drops to 53-8 on the year, falling for the first time in nine games, dating back to a loss to Mars Hill in the second round of South Atlantic Conference Tournament.
These same two teams will battle again Saturday afternoon with first pitch scheduled for 2:30 p.m. in Dahlonega, Georgia. A North Georgia win will propel them to the NCAA Division II World Series next week in St. Joseph, Missouri, while a Lenoir-Rhyne victory will force a winner take all game three Saturday at 5:00 p.m.
North Georgia took the early lead in the opening inning as Lauren Dykes reached on an infield single and Courtney McGuire walked to put a pair of runners on for Leslee Smith. After falling behind in the count and fouling off a trio of pitches, Smith drilled a single through the right side, sending Dykes racing home, and an error by the right fielder allowed McGuire to round third and give the Saints a 2-0 first-inning lead.
The Bears pulled to within a run in the fourth inning when Carlee Carpenter took the first pitch she saw and sent a high fly to left field that just cleared the glove of Dykes and disappeared over the yellow line for a solo blast, cutting the North Georgia lead to a run at 2-1.
The Saints got the run right back in the bottom of the inning in familiar fashion as Katherine Martin drilled the first pitch she saw to left field, a no doubter to get the run right back and make it a 3-1 game.
McGuire gave North Georgia some breathing room in the fifth inning as the senior unloaded on a 2-2 pitch, launching a towering two-run blast to plate Dykes and extend the lead to 5-1.
Lenoir-Rhyne found themselves being one-hit heading to the seventh, but the Bears’ bats came alive as Sarah Atkins delivered a line drive double to left center, and Kat Rivers came to the plate and blasted her 23rd home run of the year, an opposite field shot to tack on a two spot, but Jessica Fellmeth followed struck out swinging to end the threat with the Saints holding on for the 5-3 victory.
Sarah Phillips (42-0) remained perfect on the year, tossing her 37th complete game of the season, allowing three runs on as many hits, while striking out five and not walking a batter.
Alex Smith dropped to 25-5 on the year, allowing five runs on six hits, while striking out four and walking three.
Game two will broadcast live on www.SaintsSports.com with pregame starting at 2:00 p.m. live from the field at Haines & Carolyn Hill stadium. Miss game one? Find a full video replay by clicking HERE.