May 15, 2010

No. 1 Saints Dethrone Royals 4-1 in Regional Play

Photos by Luzny Photography

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DAHLONEGA, GA – Top-seed and No. 1 ranked North Georgia College & State University continued it’s perfect season with a 4-1 win over 8th-seeded Queens University in game two of the NCAA Division II Dahlonega Regional Friday night at Haines & Carolyn Hill Stadium.

The Saints improved to 46-0 on the season with the win and will now meet No. 4 seeded Francis Marion in the semifinal round Saturday at 2:30 p.m. The winner of that matchup will earn a spot in the championship round Sunday at 2:30 p.m.

“After not playing for three and a half weeks (since the conference tournament) we didn’t know what to expect,” said North Georgia head coach Mike Davenport. “We knew we would get Queens’ best shot.”

The first round game between the Saints and the Royals was delayed for more than two hours due to a lightning moving through the area. The game was stopped after the first pitch of the fifth inning with the Saints leading 4-1. The resumed just before 11 p.m. and North Georgia needed only 30 minutes to record the final six outs of the game.

It’s frustrating,” said Davenport. “You go 3-4 weeks without playing and then your get in four good innings and then you are told to go sit down. The kids stayed relaxed.”

All-American pitcher Sarah Phillips controlled the game from the circle, limiting the Royals to one run on three hits while striking out two.

The Saints wasted little time getting the offense going as Leslee Smith blasted a two-run shot over the left field fence in the bottom of the first inning. Smith’s home run was her team-leading 12th of the season.

“Leslee getting us on the board early was very important,” said Davenport. “That relieved some of the pressure. I think it was on a 1-2 pitch and their kid left one up. We get a two run lead with Sarah Phillips in the circle and you’ve got a pretty good chance.”

Queens got to Phillips for a run in the top of the fourth inning. Maria Goode started the inning with a single and later scored on a double by Megan Lathbury. The Royals had a runner on third base with two outs but North Georgia second basemen Laura Voyles ended the threat with a great defensive play, back-handing a hard one-hopper in the hole and throwing a strike to first base to end the inning.

The Saints added to their lead in the bottom of the fourth. Katherine Martin hit the first pitch she saw from reliever Brandy Jester over the left field fence to make it 3-0. Later in the inning, Natasha Willemse drove home a run with a single to left.

Following the delay, Phillips and Saints made quick work of the Royals. Phillips retired five of the final six hitters on ground balls and ended the game by getting Brandy Jester to fly out to right field.

Smith finished with a pair of hits and two RBI, while Willemse and Kasey Knight each had two hits. Katherine Martin and Lauren Dykes each had a hit for the Saints. Goode, Lathbury and Beth Richie each had a hit for the Royals.

The Saints now turn their attention to France Marion, a team they have beaten four times this season. “We focus on our game,” said Davenport. “We worry about what North Georgia brings to the table. Nothing comes easy when these two team collide.”