DAHLONEGA, GA – The 2nd-ranked North Georgia softball team played their home opener on Tuesday afternoon, and they did not disappoint, blanking Mars Hill 10-0 in the opener, before coming back with an 8-2 victory to complete the doubleheader sweep in non-conference action at Haines & Carolyn Hill Stadium.
The Saints remain unbeaten on the season, improving to 9-0 overall on the year and 2-0 at home, while the Lions losing streak hits four games as Mars Hill falls to 4-5 on the year.
Game one featured plenty of offense, but it was the clutch pitching of Krysten Connelly that kept Mars Hill off the board, as the sophomore tossed a complete game two-hit shutout to pick up her first victory of the season. She recorded three strikeouts, but coaxed 12 ground ball outs, letting the defense go to work and stifle the Lions' offensive attack.
Hilary Cox and Sarah Johnson did the job at the plate, as Johnson was a perfect 3-for-3 with two doubles and three runs batted in, while Cox had a pair of hits, including a three-run blast in the sixth inning that clanked off the scoreboard in right-center to end the game.
Ansley Williams added some firepower at the plate as well, leading off the fifth inning and blasting her first collegiate home run as part of three-run frame to give the Saints a 6-0 lead, setting up Cox's game-ending three-run shot in the bottom of the sixth.
North Georgia had little trouble scoring runs in game two as well, taking the lead in the first inning on a sacrifice fly, before coming back in the third frame and putting four runs on the board to take a 5-0 lead. Katherine Martin guided a single through the right side to plate the first run of the inning, and Callie Fernandez doubled down the left line to plate two more. Whitney Holman singled later in the frame to cap the scoring and was thrown out at second trying to stretch the base knock into a double.
After the Saints added a two-spot in the fourth inning, Mars Hill came up with their first and only runs of the day in the fifth frame as Ashley Seawell ripped a double to the gap in right center, plating two runs and cutting the North Georgia lead to five at 7-2.
The Saints added a single run in the sixth inning on an infield single by Kasey Knight, one of three hits and two runs batted in for the game as the senior shortstop continues to dazzle at the plate. She is now hitting an even .500 for the year with a team-leading 16 hits and nine runs batted in.
Sarah Phillips (5-0) got the start in game two and picked up the win, allowing seven hits and two earned runs over 5.0 innings of work. She walked two and recorded four strikeouts, giving way to Jessica Coan who came on for the final 2.0 innings. The newest Moe's Athlete of the Week faced seven batters and did not give up a hit, while striking out three and walking a pair.
North Georgia will put their 9-0 record on the line this weekend, traveling to the UAH Charger Chillout to face some of the best teams in the country. The Saints will open the weekend classic on Friday afternoon, opposing Barry University and Arkansas Tech, two of six weekend games schedule in Decatur, Alabama.