DAHLONEGA, Ga. – The ninth-ranked University of North Georgia softball team picked up its fifth- and sixth-straight wins to move into a tie for first-place with No. 4 Armstrong Atlantic State University in the Peach Belt Conference standings Saturday afternoon. The Saints swept Lander University 2-1 and 4-3 in a PBC doubleheader at Haines & Carolyn Hill Stadium.
With the pair of wins, North Georgia improves to 25-6 overall and 5-1 in conference action while Lander falls to 10-17 and 0-6 in the PBC.
Game-one: #9 North Georgia 2, Lander 1
In game-one, North Georgia was able to get things started with a single run in the bottom of the first inning when sophomore transfer Kim McMillan scored off a wild pitch by Lander's Mary Katherine Pegram. McMillan would end the first game 2-2 at the plate.
It would take until the fifth inning before North Georgia could find another run. This time it was Katie Garrett scoring off a single through the right side by Taylor Merritt to extend North Georgia's lead to 2-0.
Lander was able to avoid the shutout in the sixth inning when right fielder Bethany Beggs scored an unearned run, but that was as close as they would come despite placing a runner on the bases in the seventh.
Sophomore hurler Melissa Dickie (7-2) claimed her seventh win of the season in seven innings of work that saw her strike out four batters while Pegram fell to 4-5 with five strikeouts in the contest.
Game-two: #9 North Georgia 4, Lander 3
Lander was able to continue to play the nationally-ranked Saints close into the second game, including jumping out to an early 2-0 lead in the top of the second inning. Hamby, pinch running for Chasity Davis, scored first for the Bearcats off a single down the left field line by Kelsey Davis. Kelsey Davis would then score a few batters later as freshman pitcher Courtney Poole walked Sarah Fuller with bases loaded.
But Lander's lead would not last long as the Saints answered with four runs of their own in the bottom of the frame. Sarah Johnson and Megan May both scored off a single down the right field line by McMillan before Merritt knocked an in the park home run to right field, scoring McMillan.
The Bearcats managed to get one run back in the top of the next inning, but that was as close as they could go as the final four innings passed scoreless.
Merritt ended the second game 2-2 at the plate with her two runs batted in and the one run scored while May went 2-3 at the plate.
Poole pitched all seven innings for North Georgia to improve to 15-4 for the season with four strikeouts while Lander once again turned to Pegram who falls to 4-6 for the season after failing to strike out a single batter.
The ninth-ranked Saints will now hit the road for three PBC road doubleheaders in a row. North Georgia will first travel to Milledgeville, Ga. on Thursday, Mar. 21 where they will play Georgia College in a 5:00 p.m. twinbill. The Saints will then travel to Francis Marion University and the University of North Carolina Pembroke for games on Saturday, Mar. 23 and Sunday, Mar. 24.