COLUMBUS, Ga. – The 12th-ranked University of North Georgia softball wrapped up its time in the first-ever Peach Belt Conference-Sunshine State Conference Softball Challenge by splitting their games on Sunday. The Saints fell 4-3 in their first game to Lynn University but bounced back with a 5-3 victory over Florida Institute of Technology to finish the tournament 3-1.
The Peach Belt Conference claimed the inaugural challenge with a 11-4 record with one game left to be decided. Full results and box scores from all 16 games can be found HERE.
Game 1: Lynn 4, #12 North Georgia 3
In the day's first game, North Georgia jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning, capitalizing on a hit and two errors by the Fighting Knights (2-2). Kim McMillan, who went 3-6 for the day and had two home runs in her debut weekend as a Saint, scored first for North Georgia off an RBI single by Katherine Martin with one out.
The game would progress scoreless form there until the bottom of the fifth inning when Lynn pushed four runners across the plate with four hits and two North Georgia errors.
In the top of the following frame, North Georgia was able to put Tiffanie Burns and Sarah Johnson on base and move them into scoring position, but could not capitalize. And, with the tying run on base in the seventh, Florida Tech was able to keep the Saints' bats at bay to hold on for the win.
Melissa Dickie accepted the loss in five innings of work that saw her strike out five batters while Kasey Murray recorded the win for Florida Tech, giving up just two hits and five walks to improve to 2-1.
Game 2: #12 North Georgia 5, Florida Tech 3
The second game did not start off quite as quickly as the first, but the Saints did jump out to a similar 3-0 lead, this time in the top of the third inning.
This time, it was Johnson leading off the scoring drive as she was batted in by a single to center field by McMillan. After Meagan May followed with a single of her own to left field, Martin moved both Johnson and May around the bases and across the dish with a double to the fence in left-center field.
The Panthers (0-4) were able to get a pair of runs back in the bottom of the fourth inning when Nicole Shinksy hit a two-run home run just fair of the left field foul pole, but McMillan had an answer with her own homer in the top of the very next inning.
The two programs then swapped runs in the sixth to settle the score at 5-3 in favor of the nationally-ranked Saints.
Freshman Courtney Poole, who pitched two relief innings in the day's previous game, went all seven innings again for North Georgia. She recorded seven strikeouts in the win over Florida Tech after striking out two in the game against Lynn. Taylor Smith accepted the loss in the circle for Florida Tech in three innings of work that saw her give up five hits and three earned runs while striking out just one batter.
The Saints will next host their own Captain D's Classic at Haines & Carolyn Hill Stadium on Saturday, Feb. 9 and Sunday, Feb. 10. North Georgia will welcome Lander University, Lincoln Memorial University and Alabama-Huntsville University in 16 total games. The Saints will play both Lincoln Memorial and Alabama-Huntsville twice.