February 20, 2011

No. 2 Saints Split Pair of Games Against Top 10 Teams

DECATURE, AL – The 2nd-ranked North Georgia softball team split a pair of games for the second straight day on Sunday afternoon, taking down 6th-ranked Wayne State 7-2, before falling 2-1 at the hands of 9th-ranked Alabama-Huntsville on the final day of the UAH Charger Chillout.

The Saints end the three-day weekend tournament with a 4-2 record, going 1-2 against ranked teams as North Georgia moves to 13-2 overall on the season.

Wayne State, ranked 6th in the latest NFCA Division II Top 25, was on the slate Sunday morning and North Georgia found themselves down early, as a two-out first-inning rally propelled the Warriors to a 1-0 lead.

With two outs in the first frame, North Georgia hurler Sarah Phillips walked Rebecca Stanley and Rebecca Ryan followed and made her pay, sending a triple down the right field line to bring Stanley around to score and give Wayne State the early edge.

The Saints' offense would go quiet until the fourth inning when North Georgia finally came alive, sending 11 batters to the plate and scoring seven runs to take a 7-1 lead. Ansley Williams started the scoring with a bases loaded single up the middle to tie the game, and Kasey Knight followed and singled home another run with the first pitch she saw to make it 2-0.

Hilary Cox continued the rally two batters later as she stroked a double to bring two more runs home, and Callie Fernandez singled home Cox later in the inning to cap the seven-run frame and give the Saints a commanding lead.

The Warriors tacked on a run in the seventh inning as Alison Allen drilled a solo home run, but Wayne State would come up short in a battle of nationally ranked teams.

Krysten Connelly (2-0) continued to pitch well in the opener, coming on in relief and tossing 4.2 innings, allowing three hits and one run while coaxing nine groundouts. The sophomore has recorded an earned run average of 0.30 in 23.1 innings of work on the season, allowing just 12 hits and one earned run in six appearances.

The rivalry between North Georgia and Alabama-Huntsville resumed in game two of the day as the Chargers took the early lead on a defensive breakdown by the Saints in the first inning.

Kelli Long gave UAH the edge in the first inning when she walked and scored from first base on a wild throw by Jessica Coan attempting to cut down Charger catcher Krystal Johnson on a sacrifice bunt. Johnson would double the lead for her team an inning later on a sacrifice foul out to bring home what turned out to be the game-winning run.

North Georgia got a rally going in the third inning as Natasha Willemse led off and was hit by a pitch. She later stole second and Kasey Knight delivered a two-out single to left field, sending Willemse home and cutting the lead in half at 2-1. The Saints added three more hits in the game, but never had a base runner reach third as they fell for the second time in the last three games.

Coan (5-1) suffered her first loss of the year, tossing all 6.0 innings and allowing two hits, one earned run, and four walks. She recorded six strikeouts, but had two wild pitches and hit one batter.

The Saints will go right back to work next weekend, traveling to Limestone College for a two-day tournament in Charleston, South Carolina. North Georgia is set to face California (Pa.), the University of Charleston, Newberry College, and Limestone College in the weekend classic.