February 17, 2014

North Georgia Splits Pair Of Nine-Inning Affairs With Lincoln Memorial In Home-Opener

DAHLONEGA, Georgia – (UNGAthletics.com) – The #15 University of North Georgia softball team split a pair of nine-inning affairs with Lincoln Memorial University on Monday afternoon at Haines & Carolyn Hill Stadium and now stand at 7-5 overall on the season.  The Nighthawks won the first game in dramatic fashion, winning 1-0 on a walk off homerun by Ansley Phillips.  After battling back from an early 6-0 deficit in the second game, North Georgia saw the Railsplitters plate a pair of runs in the top of the second extra inning to earn the split.

In game one, Lincoln Memorial loaded the bases in the top of the first frame but the Railsplitters were not able to plate a run against UNG starter Courtney Poole.

The game remained a pitchers' duel until the bottom of the fifth when it was the Nighthawks that loaded the bases but could not push one across against LMU's Kirsten Toole.

Toole was again able to escape a jam in the bottom of the sixth with an inning-ending double play. 

North Georgia would threaten again in the bottom of the seventh as well, but LMU threw out the winning run at the plate in a bases-loaded fielder's choice for the second out before a lineout to centerfield by Kim McMillan ended the inning.

After a scoreless eighth, North Georgia would end the game in dramatic fashion when Ansley Phillips led off the inning by depositing a solo walk-off homerun over the centerfield fence for the game-winner.   Phillips also doubled earlier in the game to finish 2-3 from the plate. 

For UNG, Phillips was dominant in the circle pitching all nine innings and allowing just a pair of singles to secure the shutout win and improve to 4-3 on the season.  Toole (3-2) suffered the loss after scattering nine hits.   

"I was very pleased in how we played in the first game against a very good Lincoln Memorial team," stated head coach Mike Davenport.  "Courtney Poole and LMU's pitcher (Toole) each pitched well and both young ladies deserved the win."

In the second game, LMU struck early scoring three runs in both the first and second innings as Amanda Snow belted a three-run homerun in the first while Toole connected on a two-RBI double in the second .

In the Nighthawks' half of the second, Phillips smacked a double that scored Tiffanie Burns and would later score on a wild pitch to cut the Railsplitters' lead to 6-2. 

Poole would relieve North Georgia starter Victoria Sink in the top of the fourth and provide the Nighthawks with a spark as the sophomore right-hander worked her way out of a one-out, bases-loaded situation.

North Georgia erupted for four runs in the bottom of the fifth to equalize the game after Sarah Johnson set the table with a leadoff triple off the fence in left-centerfield.  After five more Nighthawk hits and a LMU error the scoreboard was knotted at six apiece.  The final damage came off the bat of Poole when her single scored Burns for the fourth run of the inning. 

Lincoln Memorial starter Samantha Smith escaped a bases-loaded with one out jam in the home half of the eighth after forcing a pair of fielder's choice outs.  The second out of the inning was a force out at the plate negating the go-ahead run for the Nighthawks.

The Railsplitters then used a pair of singles to lead off the eighth and following a sacrifice bunt added on an RBI single and a sacrifice fly to jump back ahead 8-6.  UNG would go quietly in the ninth despite a leadoff walk by Meagan May.

Johnson led the offense in the nightcap with a 4-5 performance from the plate while Finch, May and Poole each recorded multiple hits.  Defensively Poole would inherit the loss despite allowing just two earned runs in five and two-thirds of relief work.

LMU's Briana Mulkey was a perfect 4-4 for the Railsplitters while Smith moved to a perfect 5-0 on the season with the pitching win.

"The kids showed a lot to come back from a 6-0 deficit and we even had our chances to win it," said Davenport. "However, we have to tip our hat to LMU for coming out of here with a split."

Lincoln Memorial had won six of their first games to start the season and leave Dahlonega with an 8-2 record. 

North Georgia returns to action on short rest when the Nighthawks travel to Cleveland, Tenn. tomorrow (Feb. 18) to take on Lee University with first pitch of the non-conference doubleheader scheduled for 2:00 PM.