February 18, 2011

Saints Pick up Two More Wins at UAH Charger Chillout

DECATUR, AL – The 2nd-ranked North Georgia softball team pulled out a pair of close wins on the opening day of the 2011 UAH Charger Chillout, slipping by Barry University 2-1, before coming back and blanking Arkansas Tech 4-0 to remain unbeaten on the year.

The Saints (11-0) opened the day against the Bucs of Barry University and managed just five hits, but one of those proved to be the game-winner in the fifth inning as Pilar Harden guided a two-out single up the middle to send Ansley Williams trotting home and give North Georgia a 2-0 lead.

North Georgia scored their first run of the game in the second inning when Sarah Johnson led off and walked, stole second, and later stole third to stand 60 feet away with one out. Callie Fernandez was then called on to pinch-hit and she grounded back to the pitcher, but Johnson was running on contact and slid under the tag at home to give the Saints a 1-0 lead.

The Bucs got a rally going in the seventh as Brianna Smith led off the frame with a single, but Sarah Phillips came right back and recorded back-to-back strikeouts to put Barry one out away from defeat.

Jessica Tabor came to the plate as the potential game-tying and she turned out to be nearly that as she stroked a two-out double that just missed clearing the right field fence, scoring Smith and cutting the Saints' lead in half.

Phillips had seen enough of the Bucs however, striking out the side as Paula Mackin took strike three looking to end game one. Phillips (6-0) went the distance for North Georgia, picking up her fourth complete game of the season as the senior allowed five hits and one run, while striking out a season-high 11 batters.

North Georgia scored four runs early on Arkansas Tech in game two, and right-hander Jessica Coan (4-0) took over from there, tossing a two-hit complete game shutout to stifle the Golden Suns and send the Saints to their 11th straight victory. Coan recorded a season-high 13 strikeouts in the victory as the junior has yet to allow a run on the season in 27.0 innings of work.

The Saints jumped on the board in the second inning as Williams lifted a foul ball down the left field line that was tracked down, allowing Natasha Willemse to tag from third and race home for the game's first run.

North Georgia added a trio of insurance runs in the third inning as Pilar Harden came up with another RBI hit, singling to right field to send Johnson home and make it a 2-0 advantage. Harden would later come around to score on a Williams single to left field, capping a three-run inning and giving North Georgia all the runs they would need in a 4-0 victory.

The Saints will go right back to work on Saturday during day two of the UAH Charger Chillout, taking on Quincy University at 1:30 p.m., before turning around and battling 19th-ranked Arkansas Monticello at 5:30 p.m. in first of three straight games against top 25 teams.