Jessica Coan Hurls No. 4 Saints to Sweep of Hurricanes
AMERICUS, GA – The 4th-ranked North Georgia softball team continued their winning ways on Friday evening, sneaking out a 2-1 victory in the opener, before coming back and routing Georgia Southwestern 11-3 in a Peach Belt Conference doubleheader.
The Saints run their winning streak to eight games, improving to 34-8 overall on the year and 10-2 in the Peach Belt Conference to take over the top spot in the league for the first time this season. The Hurricanes fall to 20-26 overall and 4-12 in league play.
Game one was all about the long ball as a pair of solo home runs propelled the Saints to a one-run victory. Hilary Cox got things started in the first inning, blasting her league-leading 11th home of the run of the season over the fence in left center to put North Georgia on top. The solo home run was the junior's 39th run batted in of the season as the Saints jumped out to the early lead.
The Hurricanes bounced back in the fifth inning and knotted the score at a run apiece when Lyndi Duff legged out an infield single, and Jessica Martin followed and doubled to left field, sending Duff around to score what would be the only run of the game for Georgia Southwestern.
The Saints would break the deadlock in the seventh inning as Katherine Martin led off and drilled a solo home run to centerfield, the sophomore's third long ball of the year to give North Georgia all the runs they would need in a 2-1 victory.
Jessica Coan slammed the door in the seventh inning, striking out the side to earn her 17th victory of the season. She allowed four hits and added 12 strikeouts in all 7.0 innings of work.
The offense came alive for the Saints in the nightcap, scoring 11 runs on as many hits to cruise to an 11-3 victory and cap the doubleheader sweep. North Georgia scored seven runs over the final two innings to seal the victory, benefiting from four players chipping in a multiple hit game.
Ansley Williams was productive early, doubling home the game's first run in the second inning to plate Katherine Martin, and singling in the fourth to send Victoria St. Clair home as part of a three-run frame.
The big inning came in the sixth frame when North Georgia scored five runs on as many hits, including a two-run double by Sarah Johnson to start the hit parade. Callie Fernandez and Katherine Martin both followed with run scoring base knocks later in the inning to send the Saints to an eight-run victory.
Kasey Knight continued her torrid pace at the plate, adding a pair of hits in the nightcap to take over the team lead in batting average, currently hitting .374 as the senior leads the Peach Belt Conference with 55 hits on the year. After the solo home run in the opener, the Hurricanes wanted no part of Hilary Cox, walking the junior four times in game two.
Coan (18-3) picked up another win in the nightcap, tossing 5.1 innings and striking out eight more batters to extend her PBC strikeout lead to 212 for the season. Krysten Connelly came on in relief, recording the final five outs and adding two strikeouts.
The Saints return to action on Sunday afternoon in a battle of the top two teams in the Peach Belt Conference as North Georgia travels to Columbus State University for another doubleheader. First pitch is set for 1:00 p.m. at Cougar Field.