April 7, 2013

No. 6 Saints Blow Past Hurricanes in Conference Doubleheader

DAHLONEGA, Ga. - The sixth-ranked University of North Georgia (UNG) softball team swept its home Peach Belt Conference (PBC) doubleheader with the Hurricanes of Georgia Southwestern State University (GSW) Sunday afternoon with an 11-3 win in six innings in the first game and a 4-0 win in game-two at Haines & Carolyn Hill Stadium.

The sweep coupled with Columbus State University splitting its PBC twinbill at the University of South Carolina Aiken handed the Saints (33-10, 13-5 PBC) sole possession of third in the conference standings heading into Friday's key top-20 showdown between the Cougars and Saints. GSW fell to eighth in the standings with a record of 27-25 overall and 9-13 in PBC action.

Game One: #6 North Georgia 11, Georgia Southwestern 3 (6 Inn.)

The Hurricanes were able to strike first in the top of the second inning with a single run, but the nationally-ranked Saints answered with a pair of runs in the bottom of the frame as Megan May and Kayla Minger each scored off a single to right-center field by Tiffanie Burns.

Georgia Southwestern was able to tie the game at 2-2 in the top of the fourth, but North Georgia turned up the heat even more in the bottom half of the inning with six runs off five hits and a GSW error.

Rochelle Shuman drove in the go-ahead run in the form of Sarah Johnson when she singled to center field. May also scored on the play when the center fielder botched a throw to the infield.

From there, Taylor Anne Merritt, Kim McMillan, Katherine Martin, Karlie Gillam and Minger all reached base with Shuman, McMillan and Martin all scoring.

GSW scored its final run of the game in the top of the sixth before North Georgia ended the game early with three runs in the bottom half of the inning. Burns drove in the game-ending run with a single through the left side that gave Johnson enough time to cruise home.

Burns (3-4) led all batters with three hits and three runs batted in for the contest while Johnson (2-3) and Merritt (2-4) were the only other two Saints to record multiple hits.

Melissa Dickie (11-4) recorded the win inside the circle for UNG while Allison Pastor (13-8) was saddled with the loss after 5.2 innings of work that saw her give up 11 hits and 11 earned runs.

Game Two: #6 North Georgia 4, Georgia Southwestern 0

In the day's second game, freshman pitcher Courtney Poole (19-6) recorded her fourth game of the season with double-digit strikeouts as she fanned 12 batters while walking just two and giving up three hits.

The Saints scored their first two runs in the second inning and another two in the fifth with four different players scoring for UNG. Johnson and Minger both scored first off a double to center field by Shuman with Merritt and Garrett scoring in the fifth.

Poole registered her league-best 19th win of the season for the Saints while Ashley Cavender (9-11) accepted the loss while giving up seven hits and four earned runs compared to three strikeouts.

The Saints have two more dates, both at home, to end the regular-season starting with a top-20 showdown with Columbus State on Friday, Apr. 12. The twinbill with the Cougars is slated to start at 5:00 p.m. with the second game to follow at approximately 7:00 p.m.