DAHLONEGA, Ga. – The ninth-ranked University of North Georgia softball team swept both games of its Peach Belt Conference doubleheader against the University of South Carolina Aiken Thursday afternoon on "Cancer Awareness Day" at Haines & Carolyn Hill Stadium. The Saints took the first game 5-2 before claiming the second game 9-1 in five innings.
North Georgia (23-6, 3-1 PBC) out-hit the Pacers (16-10-1, 4-3 PBC) 18-8 between the two games while the Saints extended their current win streak out to five games.
The doubleheader was the Saints' annual "Cancer Awareness Day." Cancer survivors and those who wanted to pay tribute to any affected by the disease were brought onto the field in between games in an emotional ceremony that saw participants hold a moment of silence before releasing pink and white balloons in honor or memory of all those who have fought and those who continue to battle cancer.
Game-one: #9 North Georgia 5, USC Aiken 2
In the day's first game, USC Aiken eased out to an early 1-0 lead in the first inning; a lead the Pacers would hold onto until the bottom of the third inning when North Georgia put two runs on the board with a double by Katherine Martin to score Kim McMillan followed by a single up the middle by Callie Fernandez to score Martin.
From there, the nationally-ranked Saints remained in control and only added to their lead with Martin scoring again off the bat of Fernandez in the fifth before Rochelle Shuman and McMillan scored in the bottom of the sixth following a USC Aiken single run in the top of the frame.
Martin went 2-2 in the game with the pair of runs scored and her one run batted in while Taylor Merritt, Fernandez and Ansley Phillips each recorded two hits as well.
Sophomore Melissa Dickie (6-2) claimed her fifth victory in a row in the circle for North Georgia as she struck out four batters and gave up just three hits while India Kornegay (8-5) pitched five and two-thirds innings, gave up 10 hits and four earned runs while retiring six batters.
Game-two: #9 North Georgia 9, USC Aiken 1 (5 Inn.)
Game-two started similarly to the first with USC Aiken edging ahead of North Georgia with a single run, this time in the top of the third inning when Shannon Traylor scored on an RBI single down the right foul line.
However, unlike in the first game, it did not take the Saints long to respond as Martin knotted the score at 1-1 when she scored following a Kayla Minger single to center field that miss-handled by the centerfielder, one of three errors for the Pacers in the game.
From there, the Saints would continue their stout offensive production with three more runs in the bottom of the fourth before ending things early with five runs scored in the bottom of the fifth.
Fernandez and Megan May both ended the second game with 2-3 performances at the plate that included both scoring a run as nine different Saints scored in the game. May also registered two RBIs in the second game while Tiffanie Burns knocked her 10th home run of the season, a three-run shot to left field.
Freshman Courtney Poole (14-4) claimed her 14th win of the season while striking out three batters in five innings of work while Taylor Morgan (8-5) game up eight hits and nine runs, four earned, in her four-plus innings of work. North Georgia ended the game in the bottom of the fifth frame with no outs registered on the scoreboard.
The Saints will next host Lander University in another PBC doubleheader on Saturday, Mar. 16 before hitting the road for their Spring Break road trip of three PBC twinbills. First pitch of Saturday's first game is slated for 1:00 p.m. with the second game to follow at around 3:00 p.m.