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DAHLONEGA, GA – 4th-seeded Francis Marion University kicked off the NCAA Division II Dahlonega Regional Friday afternoon with a 5-0 win over 5th-seeded Carson Newman at Haines & Carolyn Hill Stadium.

The Patriots (35-14) used six hits and an error to score all of five of their runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to get past the Eagles (36-11).

The game was a pitching duel for the first four innings as FMU’s Michaela Wolf and Carson Newman’s Mary Shealy combined to allowed just three base runners.

The key play in the game came in the bottom of the fifth inning, turning the game in Francis Marion’s favor. FMU’s Jessica Birchmeier led off the inning and bounced out to second base, but an illegal pitch was called and Birchmeier got a second chance. She took advantage of the chance, lining a shot up the middle for the Patriots first hit of the game.

After a sacrifice bunt moved Birchmeier to second, Jessica Hogan drove home the first run of the game with a one-hopper off the left field fence, just to the left of the 210-foot sign. Hogan’s hit seem to get the offense going while deflating the hopes of the Eagles. “She’s does a great job,” said Vallee. “She came up real big for us.”

Cea Knox followed with an RBI single to make it 2-0, knocking Carson Newman starter Mary Shealy out of the game. Destinea Schneider had a slap single to left to put runners at first and third, and Kat Beauvais made it 3-0 with a single to left. Chelle Phillips followed with an RBI single to center, scoring Schneider. Beauvais came around to score on the play on a throwing error by the catcher.

“I felt good about our hitting, they just weren’t falling (earlier in the game),” said Vallee. The five runs were more than enough for Wolf, who allowed just one hit over the final two innings to complete the shutout. Wolfe was in control throughout, allowing just two hits while striking out seven. Wolfe kept the Eagles off balance with a fastball and a deadly change-up.

“We wanted to mix it up,” said Vallee. “We had a scouting report and we wanted to mix it up. She did a good job.”
The Patriots finished with six hits as Beauvais, Phillips, Birchmeier, Hogan, Know and Schneider each had a hit.

The Patriots will take on the winner of the North Georgia and Queens University Saturday at 2:30 pm. “We’ve played both of them so we know what they have,” said Vallee

Leah Price and Ashley Boyd had the only two hits in the game for the Eagles. Shealy ended up re-entering the game as a pitcher and ended up working 5.1innings. Shealy allowed three runs on three hits and two walks while striking out one.

The Eagles will try to stay alive in the regional, playing in a loser’s bracket game at 5 p.m. “You can play 14 innings or you can extend that,” said Hollifield. “I don’t want to take anything away from Francis Marion but I’m very disappointed in our effort.