Story by Walker McCrary
DAHLONEGA, Ga. – The sixth-ranked University of North Georgia softball team dropped both halves of a Peach Belt Conference doubleheader to fourth-ranked Armstrong Atlantic State University on Friday at Haines and Carolyn Hill Stadium.
The Pirates (25-4-1, 8-2 PBC) defeated the Saints (30-9, 10-4 PBC) in game one 4-3 of the top-10 showdown before winning the second 13-5. Armstrong remains second in the conference standings with No. 19 Columbus State University claiming the top spot while the Saints fall from first to third in a tight conference race heading into the final stretch of the regular-season.
Game 1: #4 Armstrong 4, #6 North Georgia 3
The first three innings of the first game of the day went quickly as both pitchers controlled the opposing hitters early.
Armstrong would score first in the fourth inning when Andrea Dalton hit a double down the right field line to score two runs for the Pirates.
The Saints answered in the bottom of the fifth as Katherine Martin batted in Tiffanie Burns. In the next at-bat, Karlie Gillam hit an RBI single to center, scoring Taylor Merritt to tie the game at 2-2.
The Pirates got the two runs back quickly in the sixth when Dalton hit a two-run homerun to left center scoring Wilke to make the score 4-2.
North Georgia plated one final run in the bottom half as Burns tripled to left field after a Callie Fernandez two-out single, but the Saints could not manufacture any more runs and the Pirates claimed game one 4-3.
Burns led the way at the plate for the Saints going 2-for-3 with an RBI.
Megan Barnwell (15-3) got the win for Armstrong, pitching a complete game and striking out four, while Courtney Poole (18-5) was tabbed with the loss after 3.2 innings of work, allowing three hits and two runs.
Game 2: #4 Armstrong 13, #6 North Georgia 5
Armstrong wasted little time in the day's second game getting on the board as they scored seven runs in the second inning, highlighted by a Hannah Reppert double to center field, which scored the fifth and sixth runs of the inning for the Pirates.
The Saints added four more in the fifth inning kick-started by a triple to right-center field from Minger, scoring Katie Garrett, Kim McMillan and Martin. Sarah Johnson batted in Victoria St. Clair to cut the lead to 7-5 later in the inning.
Minger led the way at the plate in game-two for the Saints, going 2-for-4 with three RBIs and a run scored.
The Pirates responded in the sixth, scoring four runs of their own including Hannah Ellis' two-run homer to left-center to round out the scoring in the inning for Armstrong as they stretched the lead to 11-5.
Armstrong added two more in the seventh off an Alexis Mercer home run to right field which scored Shelby Duff to make the score 13-5.
Duff (7-1) secured the win for Armstrong after going 4.1 innings and allowing all five runs off four hits while Rachel Reynolds came in to close out the game for her first save of the year. Melissa Dickie (9-4) was saddled with the loss for the Saints after six innings of work.
The No. 6 Saints will look to get back on the winning track in the conference as they travel to St. Augustine, Fla. to take on the Flagler College Saints on Wednesday, Apr. 3 in the final road game for North Georgia during the regular-season. First pitch of the doubleheader is slated for 4:00 p.m. at Flagler Field.