– After debuting as the number two team in the country in the
NFCA preseason poll, North Georgia has taken the nation’s top
spot in the first regular season NCAA Division II poll, their
second top ranking in as many years.
The Saints are off to their best start in school history at 13-0, including wins over two ranked teams at the UAH Charger Chillout. North Georgia has played just two home games this season, getting the job done on the road with 11 road victories, including a 4-1 nine-inning thriller against Wayne State.
North Georgia received 11 of the possible 16 first place votes for 391 total points, edging Alabama-Huntsville who drop to second after picking up the other five place votes and 389 total points. Angelo State, Valdosta State, and Wayne State round out the top five.
Two other teams in the Peach Belt Conference are ranked in the poll as Augusta State goes from being unranked in the preseason to #19, while USC Aiken falls from 13th in the preseason to 24th in the first regular season poll.
North Georgia is ranked #1 for the second time in school history after earning the nation’s top spot on May 6, 2009, in the final regular season poll of the year. At the time, the Saints were on a 20-game winning streak and continued that streak with a sweep of the Southeast Regional and Super Regional, advancing to the school’s first-ever NCAA Division II College World Series. The Saints came in third in the final poll of the 2009 season.
Former First-Team All-American Sarah Phillips has picked up right where she left off last season, currently sitting at 9-0 on the year with eight complete games and an earned run average of 0.12. She has 70 strikeouts in 57.2 innings of work, allowing just 21 hits and one earned run, while opponents are hitting .108 against the right-hander.
Designated hitter Leslee Smith is off to the best of her four-year career, currently hitting .438 with six doubles, a home run, and 16 runs batted in, while First-Team All-American Courtney McGuire found her stride over the weekend with a doubleheader sweep of Queens University, recording three hits, with seven runs batted in, five runs scored, including a three-run blast in the opener.
North Georgia (13-0) will take their unblemished record on the road this weekend to open Peach Belt Conference action. The Saints will take on Francis Marion in a doubleheader on Saturday afternoon before traveling to UNC Pembroke for a Sunday afternoon double dip.
The schedule will not get any easier from there as the #1 team in the nation returns home for four straight games against two of the best teams in the country. The Saints will host 8th-ranked LeMoyne on March 9, for a pair of games before turning around to take on 2nd-ranked Alabama-Huntsville in a doubleheader on March 10.