No. 1 Saints Sweep UNC Pembroke, Stay Perfect
– The top-ranked North Georgia softball team completed a
perfect weekend with a doubleheader sweep over UNC Pembroke on
Sunday afternoon, blanking the Braves 3-0 in game one before a 9-3
victory in game two kept the Saints unbeaten on the season and in
the Peach Belt Conference.
The No. 1 Saints improve to 17-0 on the season, and open their first weekend of conference action with a 4-0 mark, sweeping doubleheaders from Francis Marion UNC Pembroke on the road. The Braves fall to 13-9 overall and 4-6 in league action with the defeats.
In game one, North Georgia got all the offense they would need in the two innings as Leslee Smith continued to provide key hitting at the plate in the first inning, sending a fly to center field to bring Voyles to the plate for the first run of the game.
In the second inning, it was Voyles’ turn to bring home a run as the senior tripled to right field, sending Katherine Martin around to score and making it a 2-0 North Georgia lead. Lauren Dykes capped the scoring in the second inning with a single up the middle to plate Voyles from third and give the Saints a 3-0, a margin that held true to the final out.
UNC Pembroke managed four hits in the opener and consistently put the ball in play with only three strikeouts, but Sarah Phillips kept the Braves at bay all day, moving her record to 12-0 with the complete-game shutout.
In game two, the Saints scored in bunches with six runs in the third and three more in the seventh to pick up the 9-3 victory. In the third frame, Courtney McGuire drove in the first run of the game with a bases loaded walk to bring Kasey Knight home from third, and Leslee Smith followed with her third home run of the weekend, a grand slam to right center to cap a six-run inning for the Saints.
The Braves answered with their first runs of the day in the fourth inning, placing a three spot on the board with a pair of home runs that chased Phillips from the circle. Holly Berry followed a Courtney Hill double with a homer to left field, and two batters Loren Bartz launched a long ball of her own, a solo shot to center to make it a 6-3 North Georgia lead. After two more singles, Kristen Connelly came on to pitch and worked her way out of a bases loaded jam to preserve the Saints’ three-run lead.
In the seventh, two-out magic was in store for the Saints as a hit batter and walk loaded the bases for Hilary Cox who delivered three-run double to left center, clearing the bases and giving North Georgia a 9-3 victory.
Connelly (3-0) picked up the win in relief, tossing 3.2 innings and allowing two hits and no runs while walking three and striking out two. Phillips’ line read 3.1 innings of work, allowing seven hits and three earned, while striking out one in the no decision.
North Georgia will now gear up for what should be their toughest week of the season, playing host to a pair of top 10 teams in back-to-back days. The Saints will open the week against 8th-ranked LeMoyne College on Tuesday afternoon for a doubleheader set for 4:00 p.m., followed by a double dip against 2nd-ranked Alabama-Huntsville on Wednesday afternoon at 4:00 p.m. at Haines & Carolyn Hill Stadium.
- With two more wins, the Saints extend their best start in school history to 17-0.
- North Georgia is now 11-2 all-time as the No.1 team in the country.
- Leslee Smith is the only player on the team to have two, three, four, and five RBI in separate games this season, giving her a team-leading six multi-RBI games.
- Smith is now the second North Georgia player to hit a grand slam this season, following Lauren Dykes bases loaded home run against Northern Kentucky on February 19.
- With two hits in the opener, Dykes now leads the team with six multi-hit games, and is one of only three players to record three hits in a contest this season.