April 21, 2012

Tiffanie Burns' Three-Run Blast Propels the Saints in PBC Tournament Opener

COLUMBUS, GA – The No. 2-seeded Saints softball team escaped with a 7-6 win over Georgia College on Saturday afternoon in the quarterfinals of the 2012 PBC Tournament at Cougar Field.

The No. 11 team in the country found themselves with the bases loaded and nobody out in the bottom of the seventh inning, in prime position for some sort of walk-off hit. Katherine Martin would be the batter with the golden opportunity, and after forcing a full count, the junior first baseman drew a walk-off walk advancing the Saints (44-7) to the semi-finals tomorrow morning.

It didn't seem as if the game was going to go North Georgia's way, as they struggled to get the Georgia College (25-24) hitters out all afternoon. But after a double play was turned in the top of the seventh inning with no one out in the inning, all the momentum was going their way heading into the bottom half.

The Saints half of the seventh started with a Rochelle Shuman single up the middle, which was followed by a Hilary Cox walk, bringing Karlie Gillam to the plate.

Then, Bobcats head coach Jamie Grodecki made an interesting coaching decision, intentionally walking Gillam to load the bases with still no outs. Soon enough, the decision would backfire, bringing the Georgia College season.

Tiffanie Burns was the one who started the double play, and she was also the one that put the Saints in position for a win as well.

Burns connected on a three-run home run with a 2-0 count in the bottom of the sixth inning, which turned out to be the play of the game. Burns finished 2-for-3 with three RBI's, including the biggest blow of the game with the home run.

The Saints found themselves behind 3-0 early in the first inning, when Jessica Coan gave up a three-run blast off the bat of Haley Burnett. Coan didn't have her best stuff in the opening game of the tournament, but her offense came through in the end to get her out of the loss column.

North Georgia wouldn't waste time to respond, as they plated two in the bottom half of the first to get right back in the game.

After a leadoff walk to Pilar Harden, Rochelle Shuman reached on an error by the Bobcats, bringing the First-Teamer Hilary Cox up to the plate. The senior then banged a line drive off the wall in left-center field, bringing Harden in.

Karlie Gillam then grounded out to bring in Shuman, allowing the Saints to close the gap to just one run, trailing 3-2.

Callie Fernandez would bring the tying run in to score in the bottom of the second inning, knotting the game at three runs a piece all the way to the fourth inning.

Georgia College would score one run in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, while the Saints would respond with three of their own on the Burns home run.

Picking up the win was Melissa Dickie (18-0) who came in relief of Coan and pitching two innings allowing just two hits. The PBC Freshman of the Year put North Georgia in prime position for a walk-off victory.

The win kept two Saints streaks alive, as they have now won 13 straight PBC Tournament games and 14 consecutive games overall this season.

Despite being outhit 9-6, the Saints will now take on the winner of No. 3-seed Augusta State and No. 6-seed USC Aiken. The semi-final matchup is scheduled for tomorrow morning at 11:00 AM.