GREENWOOD, SC – The 3rd-ranked North Georgia softball team ran their current winning streak to 12 games on Thursday evening, sweeping a doubleheader 3-1 and 4-1 at Lander University in Peach Belt Conference action.
The Saints reduce their magic number to three to claim the program's third straight Peach Belt Conference regular season title, sitting at 38-8 overall and 14-2 in league play. Any combination of three North Georgia wins or Columbus State defeats will clinch the championship for the Saints.
North Georgia will have a chance to clinch a share of the title on Saturday afternoon, playing host to 22nd-ranked Armstrong Atlantic for a doubleheader at Haines & Carolyn Hill Stadium.
Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Phil Niekro will be on hand to throw out the first pitch at 3:00 p.m. and sign autographs for fans as part of the institution's Parents-Alumni Weekend.
In the first game of Thursday's doubleheader, the defending PBC Pitcher of the Week Jessica Coan (19-3) earned the win after striking out 12, walking one and giving up just four hits in the complete seven innings.
Lander's Hayley Leissner (12-14) suffered the loss after striking out four and allowing two earned runs on five hits in three innings pitched.
North Georgia took the lead in the first inning after a double by Kasey Knight scored Ansley Williams to give the Saints a 1-0 edge. Knight doubled the lead moments later as she advanced to third on a wild pitch and went home on an illegal pitch.
Katherine Martin's RBI single in the third plated Knight to stretch North Georgia's lead to 3-0.
Lander trimmed the lead to 3-1 in the sixth when Brittney Sheriff singled, advanced to second on a throwing error, to third on a wild pitch, and scored on Chasity Davis' single to right field. The manufactured run would be all the Bearcats could pull together in the 3-1 loss.
In the second game, Sarah Phillips (14-4) was awarded the win after striking out three, walking one and allowing one earned run on five hits in the complete seven innings.
Leissner took the loss for Lander again, striking out five, walking one and allowing four earned runs on nine hits in seven innings.
Lander cut the lead to 2-1 in the fourth when Taylor Donson scored on Rachelle Adkins' RBI groundout.
North Georgia added two insurance runs in the seventh inning on Willemse's solo homer to left field and Pilar Harden's sacrifice fly to right field to give the Saints a 4-1 victory in the nightcap.
For North Georgia, Willemse went 2-for-3 and made it three home runs in the last four games for the senior, while Callie Fernandez and Knight each added a pair of hits.