April 17, 2013

Softball Drops to 13th in NFCA Top-25 Poll, Checks in at Third in Region Ranking

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The University of North Georgia (UNG) finished the regular-season last week with a record of 36-11 and fell from sixth in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) NCAA Division II top-25 poll to 13th this week. At the same time, the Saints checked in at No. 3 in the inaugural Southeast Region rankings released by the NCAA.

The University of Indianapolis (38-2) was the unanimous No. 1 team in the nation. The Greyhounds held on to the top spot for the third straight week as they are in the midst of a 31 game winning streak after sweeping four games last week. The last time the Greyhounds lost was a 4-2 defeat at the hands of Shorter University on Feb. 23.

Armstrong Atlantic State University (35-6-1, 18-4 PBC), which clinched its second consecutive Peach Belt Conference (PBC) regular-season title Tuesday, moved up one spot into second after going 5-1 to end the season including PBC sweeps over Augusta State University and Georgia College.

Both Valdosta State University (30-8) and Southeastern Oklahoma State University (36-7) also moved up a spot each as West Texas A&M University (34-7) went 2-4 this week and fell from second to fifth in the poll.

Also from the PBC, Georgia College (34-14, 16-6 PBC) moved up to 14th in this week's poll while Columbus State moved up one spot to 23rd.

Later in the day, the inaugural Southeast Region rankings were released with the Saints appearing third behind Armstrong and Lenoir-Rhyne University. Behind North Georgia, fellow PBC schools Georgia College, Columbus State and Flagler checked in at fourth, sixth and seventh in the region. Anderson University is fifth in the first region rankings of the season while Mount Olive is eighth, Wingate ninth and Catawba 10th.

The top eight teams in the region will advance to the NCAA Division II Regional in two weeks with three of those slots being automatic bids awarded to the winners of the PBC, South Atlantic Conference and Conference Carolinas tournaments.

UNG finished in a tie as far as records go with Georgia College for the No. 2 spot in the conference. However, the Bobcats claimed the #2 spot with their doubleheader sweep of 23rd-ranked Columbus State University while the Saints split their doubleheader with Columbus.

The Saints will be the #3 seed in this weekend's 2013 Peach Belt Conference Softball Championship beginning Saturday, Apr. 20 in St. Augustine, Fla. The Saints will play in the day's third game against the #6 seed University of South Carolina Aiken with a 4:00 p.m. first pitch.

North Georgia claimed three straight conference regular-season and tournament titles from 2009-11 while going 12-0 in that span. The Saints will be making their sixth consecutive appearance in the conference tournament and have played in the last five championship games. Over the last five years, they boast an impressive record of 18-3 in the PBC tournament.

The winner between North Georgia and USC Aiken will move on to the semifinal round on Sunday where they will face the winner of the game between Georgia College and Francis Marion at 1:30 p.m. The other semifinal game will be played at 11:00 a.m. with the championship game to be contested at 4:00 p.m. Sunday afternoon. The winner of the PBC Tournament will receive the conference's automatic bid into the Southeast Regional held from Friday, May 10 through Sunday, May 12.

The NFCA Division II Top 25 Poll is voted on by 16 NCAA Division II head coaches, two representing each of the eight NCAA regions. The entire NFCA Top-25 Poll can be found HERE.

The entire NCAA Division II regional poll can be found HERE.