March 30, 2011

Softball Ranked No. 4 in Latest NFCA DII National Poll

STARKVILLE, MS – The North Georgia softball moved up one spot to No. 4 in the country according to the latest NFCA Division II Coaches Poll released on Wednesday afternoon.

For the second straight week, the Saints (32-8) swap places with Valdosta State (14-4), this time jumping up to the No. 4 team in the land following a pair of Peach Belt Conference wins over UNC Pembroke. North Georgia has now appeared in the nation's top five for 23 consecutive weeks, dating back to March 11, 2009, when the Saints jumped up for spots to round out the top five.

Alabama-Huntsville (24-1-1) received 11 of 16 first-place votes and finished six points ahead of previous No. 1 Angelo State (27-3), the recipients of the other five first-place votes.  The Chargers' top ranking is their first regular season No. 1 ranking since April 29, 2009, one week prior to the Saints taking over the No. 1 ranking for the first time in school history.

Wit the race for the Peach Belt Conference Regular Season Championship heating up, Armstrong Atlantic remains the only other league team in the poll, holding strong as the No. 23 team in the land as the Pirates appear in the ranking for the third straight week.

A pair of Peach Belt Conference schools are on the outside looking in, including Columbus State (30-8) who received votes for the third straight as the Cougars are currently tied atop the PBC standings with North Georgia with the two schools set to clash on Saturday afternoon for what could be a pivotal doubleheader in the title race. Flagler College (30-12) is also receiving votes after falling from the national ranking two weeks ago. 

North Georgia continues to have key players leading statistical categories in the Peach Belt Conference and across the country, as Jessica Coan is the league leader with 192 strikeouts, a mark that puts her fourth in the country at the Division II level. The junior transfer is also fourth in the country in wins with 16, and 10th in the land in earned run average at 0.77, both statistics that put her atop the PBC.

At the plate, North Georgia has plenty of firepower as well, as Hilary Cox leads the league in home runs with 10 and is just three long balls away from the national lead. Cox is also second in the PBC with 38 runs batted in, while freshman Ansley Williams tops the league with 41 runs scored. Kasey Knight is two base knocks off the league lead with 53 hits on the season, while North Georgia is first in team earned run average at 1.24 and tied for second in team batting average at .301.

The Saints return to action over the weekend, traveling to Georgia Southwestern for a Peach Belt Conference doubleheader on Friday evening, followed by a trip to Columbus State on Saturday afternoon.