DAHLONEGA, GA – The 2nd-ranked and top-seeded North Georgia softball team rallied with a huge six-run fifth inning on Saturday afternoon to take down Lenoir-Rhyne 10-2 and capture the 2011 Southeast Super Regional Championship.
The Saints (52-10) advance to the NCAA Division II World Series for the third straight season, and take down Lenoir-Rhyne for the second straight year in the process. North Georgia's 52 wins is the most in school history, surpassing last year's 51-win season.
The Bears (45-10) end their season one game shy of the National Championships as a team from the Peach Belt Conference has now advanced to the World Series in each of the last 13 years.
North Georgia will now turn their attention to the World Series in Salem, Virginia, and the Saints' opening round matchup against Indiana (Pa.) on Thursday, May 26, at 5:00 p.m. at the Moyer Sports Complex. Indiana (Pa.) advances to the National Championships after sweeping Bloomsburg in the Atlantic Super Regional.
In a contrast from the first two games of the series, pitchers dominated the opening innings, tossing up zeros on both sides until the fourth frame when North Georgia came alive at the plate and struck for a pair of runs. Victoria St. Clair scored the first run of the contest on a wild pitch, and Kayla Martin trotted home on a two-out Ansley Martin single to left field to give the Saints a 2-0 advantage.
The Bears came right back in the fifth inning and cut the lead in half on one swing of the bat, using a solo shot over the fence in left field by Megan Laxton to make it a 2-1 North Georgia advantage.
North Georgia put together another rally in the fifth inning and benefited from a pair of errors to put a six spot on the board and take a commanding 8-1 lead. The first two runs of the frame scored on fielding miscues by the Bears, but Ansley Williams made no doubt about the next four runs, belting a grand slam to straight away center field to extend the lead once again and make it 8-1.
After L-R put a run on the board in the top of the sixth inning, the Saints slammed the door in the bottom half when Sarah Johnson and Pilar Harden belted back-to-back home runs to give the Saints a 10-2 victory in six innings and dog pile at home plate. The back-to-back home runs was the second time in as many days the duo accomplished the feat, and it gave North Georgia 12 long balls in the three-game series.
Jessica Coan (27-4) proved she deserved Region Pitcher of the Year honors, tossing all 6.0 innings and allowing just three hits and two runs, while striking out six. Lauren Harris (11-3) suffered the loss for the Bears, lasting 4.0 innings and giving up four runs on five hits.