October 28, 2011

Softball Caps Fall Campaign against the Crimson Tide

Contact: David Beall, jdbeall@northgeorgia.edu


DAHLONEGA, GA – The North Georgia softball team put a lid on their fall campaign last week as they prepare for the 2012 season and look to continue their dominance in the Peach Belt Conference.

The Saints, ranked No. 4 in the final NFCA Division II Poll of the 2011 season, had four competitive dates this fall that included a pair of division I national powerhouses.

Head coach Mike Davneport opened the fall with a pair of home games, welcoming Georgia Perimeter to town on September 18, before Middle Georgia made a trip to Dahlonega and Haines & Carolyn Hill Stadium, the site of three straight NCAA Division II Southeast Regionals and Super Regionals.

North Georgia then hit the road to play some of the best teams in the country as they traveled to nearby Athens to take on the University of Georgia at Jack Turner Stadium.

Following a date with the Bulldogs, the Saints traveled to Tuscaloosa to take on two-time defending Southeastern Conference Champions Alabama. North Georgia opened the doubleheader at Rhoads Stadium against Tennessee State, and then capped the fall schedule against the Crimson Tide.

The Saints will now have nearly three months to prepare for the 2012 season, a campaign that will kickoff on Feb. 11-12, when North Georgia plays host to Tusculum College, North Greenville and Bellarmine University for the NGCSU Loyal Blue Classic in Dahlonega. 

The North Georgia softball program will look to continue one of the most impressive runs in Division II history when they embark on a journey next season to capture a fourth straight Peach Belt Conference regular season and tournament championship and advance to the World Series for a fourth straight year.

The Saints have been ranked in the nation's top five for 30 consecutive weeks dating back to March 11, 2009, when the Saints rounded out the top five. Since that ranking, North Georgia has spent 819 consecutive days among the top five teams in the land, including spending 10 of those weeks as the No. 1 team in the country.

Plenty of weapons return on offense and defense next season, including defending National Pitcher of the Year Jessica Coan. The junior was tabbed as an All-American by three different organizations after posting a 27-5 record with a 1.09 earned run average. In 40 appearances, she set a North Georgia single-season record with 334 strikeouts in just 218.1 innings of work, while adding 25 complete games. Coan set the program record for strikeouts in a seven-inning game with 19, a mark that put her in the national spotlight with the second-most strikeouts in the history of NCAA Division II softball.

Three NFCA All-Region selections return at the plate as well, including Hilary Cox (pictured above) who will look to add to her already impressive collegiate resume when she takes the field for her senior campaign. Cox had 14 home runs a year ago and tallied 48 runs batted in to go along with a .338 batting average.

Pilar Harden will patrol the outfield once again after earning All-Region honors for a third consecutive year. The rising senior had plenty of postseason success a year ago with four of her 11 home runs coming in the Super Regionals and World Series. She also set a Division II World Series record last season with five runs batted in during the Saints 9-4 victory over Indiana (Pa.) in the opening round of the National Championships.

Katherine Martin returns to first base next spring for junior season and will look to continue her run as one of the best defensive players in the country. An All-American in 2010, Martin was named All-Region in 2011 after hitting .322 with six home runs, 12 doubles and 35 runs batted in.

Follow the entire 2012 season at SaintsSports.com as North Georgia looks to continue their dynasty and set a Peach Belt Conference record with four straight championships.