SPARTANBURG, SC – Pitching guided the 3rd-ranked North Georgia softball team to another win on Friday evening, but this time a 19-strikeout performance from junior Jessica Coan baffled 15th-ranked Lenoir-Rhyne in a 2-0 victory to open the Mid South Classic.
In one of the most dominating pitching performances in the history of Division II softball, Coan punched out 19 batters, the second most in NCAA Division II softball history in a 7-inning contest.
She was one strikeout away from tying Dori Stankewitz from Florida Southern who recorded 20 strikeouts on March 14, 1987 against Tampa University. Coan's 19 strikeouts in the 7-inning game have her tied for second all-time with Torie Bunzell of Quincy University who tallied 19 strikeouts in 2008 and again last year during the 2010 campaign.
The game rolled right along as Coan punched out the first 10 batters she faced before Carlee Carpenter broke up the strikeout string and the no-hitter with a single through the left side with one out in the fourth inning. Coan would go right back to work however, getting Sarah Atkins and Haily Jarman to strikeout swinging and give her strikeouts for each of the first 12 outs.
Coan added two more strikeouts in the fifth inning, before striking out the side in the sixth frame for the fourth time in the contest, giving the junior 17 strikeouts heading to the seventh inning.
Carpenter led off the seventh and fanned at strike three, before Atkins lined out to shortstop, just the second out recorded in the field. Jarman was the last chance for the Bears with two outs in the seventh and she went down swinging on three pitches, giving Coan the second most strikeouts in NCAA Division II history in a 7-inning game with 19.
Coan (8-1) lowers her earned run average to 0.26 on the season, having given up just two earned runs in 54.0 innings of work. She has 98 strikeouts on the year, while opponents are hitting .100 against the hard throwing right-hander.
The Saints stay perfect against Lenoir-Rhyne, moving to 4-0 all-time against the Bears as North Georgia improves to 18-2 overall on the season. The 15th-ranked Bears fall to 13-5 on the year, having lost four of their five games to Peach Belt Conference schools.
The Saints broke the scoreless tie in the second inning when Kayla Martin stepped to the dish with two outs and the bases clear and drilled her first home run a year, a solo blast to left center to give North Georgia a 1-0 lead.
North Georgia returns to action on Saturday afternoon at the Mid South Classic with a trio of games on the schedule against Catawba, Coker, and Wingate. The Saints cap the weekend slate on Sunday afternoon against LeMoyne at 1:00 p.m.