North Georgia Advances to Championship Game
COLUMBUS, GA – North Georgia scored seven runs in the second inning on the way to a 9-0, five-inning shutout win over USC Aiken in the first semifinal of the 2012 PBC Softball Tournament in Columbus. Eight of the nine North Georgia batters collected at least one hit while Pilar Harden homered and Hilary Cox drove in three. With the win, the Saints return to the PBC Championship Game for the fifth straight season and have won the last three tournament titles.
After a scoreless first, the Saints (45-7) blew the game open in the second scoring seven runs, all with two outs. Callie Fernandez started the surge with a two-run single to center field, scoring Kayla Minger and Katherine Martin.
A walk and hit batter loaded the bases once again and was the end of the day for USCA starter India Kornegay, who appeared to have stiffness in her shoulder. Kornegay (L, 20-12) went 1.2 innings with three strikeouts and five earned runs. She was replaced by Samantha Lamm, whose wild pitch allowed the third run to score. Cox then drove in two more with a single to left center and Karlie Gillam doubled to left to score another.
Katherine Martin, making her second at-bat of the inning, drove in the final run with a double to right center to score Gillam. A fly ball brought the inning to an end, but not before seven runs crossed the plate.
That was more than enough support for North Georgia starter Melissa Dickie (W, 19-0) who pitched all five innings and allowed only two hits while striking out a pair. Her only trouble spot was in the fourth as USCA’s Whitney Clary led off with a single and moved to second on a passed ball. After a strikeout, the inning came to an end on a great defensive play as North Georgia’s Minger, playing in right field, made a diving catch on a shallow fly ball off the bat of Cortney Sadler, then doubled up Clary who left the bag at second.
North Georgia put the game away in the bottom of the fourth with Harden’s solo home run to start things off. Rochelle Shuman followed with a double and moved to third on a wild pitch, then scored on Cox’s sacrifice fly to right.
Shuman was the only Saint to have more than one hit for North Georgia, going 2-for-2 with a pair of runs scored. Four of North Georgia’s nine hits were for extra bases with Fernandez driving in a pair.
Clary and Nicole Borden had the two hits for USC Aiken, who fall to 26-17 on the year.
North Georgia will try for their fourth straight tournament championship later on Sunday as they face the winner of the second semifinal between Armstrong Atlantic State and host Columbus State.