ST. JOSEPH, MO
– Top-ranked North Georgia began their quest for a National
Championship on Thursday afternoon, using timely hitting and
stellar defense to top Molloy College 4-0 in the opening game of
the 2010 NCAA Division II National Championships at Heritage
North Georgia’s unbeaten run continues, as the team is now 51-0 and advance to Friday’s round of the NCAA Division II National Championships at 4:00 p.m. CST against Valdosta State University. The Saints are now 3-2 all-time in the Division II World Series, and 2-0 in opening-round contests.
Molloy, making their first appearance in the National Championships, fall to 43-20 on the year and will make their way to the loser’s bracket and Saturday’s consolation round of the tournament.
Molloy threatened in the opening inning as the leadoff hitter walked, and Jeana Frey followed with a bunt single to put a pair on with no outs. Following a force play at third for the first out of the game, a wild pitch moved the runners to second and third with just one out.
North Georgia then put together a dazzling defensive play as a grounder to the right side was stabbed by Laura Voyles, and after throwing to first for the out, Katherine fired a strike to third, forcing a rundown between third and home and Kasey Knight finally applied the tag to end the inning and the Lions’ first-inning threat.
Voyles stepped to the plate in the bottom half of the first inning and picked up right where she left off in the Southeast Super Regionals, belting the fourth pitch she saw over the fence in left-center, a solo blast to give the Saints the lead at 1-0. Courtney McGuire added to the North Georgia lead in the fourth inning as the senior skied a ball to right field that caught the wind and inched out of the park, giving the Saints their second solo shot of the game and making it a 2-0 advantage.
North Georgia added to their lead in the fourth inning as Lauren Dykes reached base on an infield single and stole second before being lifted for Jessica Skeels who came around to score on a triple of the bat of McGuire, her second hit, and second RBI of the game. Hilary Cox stepped to the plate two batters later and laced a single to right field, sending McGuire trotting home and extending the Saints lead to 4-0.
Sarah Phillips picks up her 10th win of the postseason, as the junior is now 44-0 on the year, tossing her 39th complete game of the year, and 23rd shutout of the season. She allowed just three hits in all 7.0 innings of work, while walking two and striking out six.
North Georgia is now just four wins shy of tying the NCAA’s all-time mark for consecutive wins, while moving three wins away from becoming the first softball team in history at any level to capture a National Championships with a perfect record.
North Georgia Head Coach
(Opening Comments) “I want to tip my hat to Malloy, they battled from first pitch on, I mean we got out of a big jam in the first inning – I thought that was important to get out of there without giving up any runs on the board. Their left-handed pitcher, [Butterworth], she baffled us. You’ve got to tip your hat to her, what a job – comes in their first time in the World Series – and strikes out nine of our kids. It would have been different if I felt we had a chance on those strike outs, but we weren’t even close.”
“I think later in the game when we finally adjusted and started going to right field with our bats I think that is what finally got us on the board.”
“I’m sure she would love to have that pitch back, the one to Laura [Voyles] in the first inning, it was a change-up and she just left it up. Laura does a great job leading off ballgames for us and putting us on the board early. It gives us a pretty good shot.”
(On getting off on the
right foot) “From the outside, people keep talking
about our record and our ranking – and that is something they
deserve and have earned, but that can’t be taken away.
All eight teams have a shot – you have a one in eight chance
in winning this thing.”
“The ultimate goal is to walk out of this thing Monday night holding the trophy – you can do that with a loss. I’ll trade you a loss as long as we can keep playing tomorrow – these kids will hopefully buy into that and keep going to battle.
Senior Second baseman Laura
(On Scoring in the first innings) “It was pretty good – we had big momentum going into that first inning as far as offense, because we got the big double play at the end [of the top half of the inning], so it kind of pumped up our confidence. I got in the box just trying to keep the momentum up”
(On finding success at the plate) “We stepped into the box too anxious instead of waiting for our pitch and what pitch we wanted to pitch instead of swinging at her rise ball, her drop ball, or change-up and taking it to right field.”
(Her opening at-bat home run) “It was amazing. Just to get our team up one run. We are a great hitting team and no matter what pitcher is on the mound, whether they throw 80 or 45, we are a strong offensive team and we will score some runs.”
Junior Pitcher Sarah
(On her performance) I went out in the first inning and started off the game with a four pitch walk – which is never the way you want to start a game – but I always have confidence in my defense.”
“I feel like I have the strongest defense in the country. They are unbelievable and today they proved it. Kathryn Martin, our first-baseman, stopped a ball going from the outfield that would have scored a run and made the play at first. Courtney [McGuire] throws a girl out from right field. It’s just those kind of plays that make our team who we are and get us those wins.”
Senior Right Fielder
(On finding success at the plate) “I think watching the whole line-up go through the first two innings and seeing how she has thrown really helped. We took her strong pitches to right field. We listened and we performed.”