April 3, 2011

No. 4 Saints Blast Five Home Runs, Devour Cougars

COLUMBUS, GA – With first place on the line in the Peach Belt Conference, the 4th-ranked North Georgia softball came out firing at Columbus State on Sunday afternoon, taking down the Cougars 9-2 in the opener and 8-3 in the nightcap to vault to the top of the PBC standings.

With just six games remaining on the schedule for the Saints in league play, North Georgia made a huge step toward claiming the program's third straight PBC Championship with the doubleheader sweep over Columbus State.

The Saints improve to 36-8 overall on the year and 12-2 in league action, while Columbus State drops back-to-back games for the first time since early March, falling to 34-10 overall and 10-4 in conference play.

North Georgia made a statement early as Ansley Williams led off the opener and drilled the first of the game over the wall in left center to give the Saints an early 1-0 lead. After Kasey Knight was hit by a pitch, Hilary Cox continued to stay hot, connecting with her league-leading 12th home run of the year to plate two more runs and stake the Saints to a 3-0 first-inning advantage. Kayla Martin capped the four-run inning with a bases loaded walk to make it 4-0 as the Saints batted around in the first frame.

After both teams traded a pair of runs in the second inning, North Georgia added a single run in the sixth inning on a Katherine Martin RBI single, and Natasha Willemse launched a solo homer as part of a two-run seventh inning to send the Saints to a 9-2 game-one victory.

Williams was 3-for-5 at the plate with three runs scored in game one, while Cox added a pair of hits and drove in four runs as the top of the order anchored the offense as it clicked on all cylinders.

Jessica Coan (19-3) tossed her 18th complete of the season, striking out 13 more batters allowing just two runs on three hits over all 7.0 innings of work.

The Saints were equally impressive at the plate in game two, scoring a run in the first and three more in the second to jump out to a 4-1 lead. Cox doubled home the run in the first, while Willemse belted her second home run of the day in the second frame to cap a three-run inning.

After North Georgia tallied a single run in the sixth inning, Williams continued on her offensive streak in the seventh inning, belting on her second home run of the day and 10th long ball of the season as North Georgia plated three more runs and ran away with an 8-3 victory and doubleheader sweep.

Sarah Phillips (13-4) was the winner in the nightcap, allowing three runs on as many hits, while walking five and striking out six. Coan came on in the seventh to record the final three outs of the game and send the Saints to the top of the PBC standings.

The Saints will have three days off before their final road games of the regular season, traveling to Lander University (19-18, 4-10) for a doubleheader against the Bearcats. First pitch is set for 5:00 p.m. at Doug Spears Field.