Posted: Saturday, May 17th 2014 at 11:44pm
Nighthawks softball falls in Super Regional championship game
By staff reports
DAHLONEGA -– In a pair of dramatic NCAA Division II Southeast Super Regional softball games, the 19th-ranked Armstrong Atlantic State University Pirates came out of top of the decisive game with a thrilling 12-10 victory over the second-ranked University of North Georgia Nighthawks. UNG forced the if game with a 7-5 come-from-behind win in the first game.
In the first game, North Georgia scored three times in the top of the seventh inning to rally for 7-5 win over Armstrong to force the rubber game.
The Pirates took a 5-4 lead into the final inning after Hannah Reppert, who went 2-for-3, led off the bottom of sixth with her 12th home run to left-center field.
Meredith Heyer led off the Nighthawk rally with a walk and Taylor Merritt, who went 2-for-4, followed with a one-out soft single to center field. Kim McMillan laced a single to left field off Pirate starter Ollivia McLemore (23-6). Armstrong's Heather Ellis overran the ball on the play, allowing both Rochelle Shuman, who pinch ran for Heyer, and Merritt to score and gave the Nighthawks a 6-5 lead.
North Georgia added an insurance run as Jessica Finch had an RBI single to right field to give the Nighthawks a 7-5 lead.
Reliever Courtney Poole (23-9), who pitched the final 1 2/3 innings, retired the side to earn the win.
North Georgia took advantage of two Armstrong errors in the third to score four runs – three unearned – to jump out to a 4-0 lead.
Armstrong got a run back in the bottom of the inning on a UNG throwing error and then added three runs in the fifth to knot score at 4. Peyton Roth had a suicide squeeze bunt while Haley Ellis had a run-scoring single up the middle. Andrea Dalton closed out the scoring with a RBI single to left-center field.
In the second game, AASU scored eight times in the top of the sixth inning and then had to hold off a furious rally by the University of North Georgia to record a 12-10 in the rubber game.
The 19th-ranked Pirates improved to 35-13 overall and will advance to the NCAA Division II Softball National Championship in Salem, Va. The No. 2-ranked Nighthawks ended their season at 47-11. The NCAA Championship appearance is the second consecutive for the Pirates.
North Georgia, which forced the third game of the regional with a 7-5 win earlier in the game, took a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the fifth on a RBI single to center by Victoria Prince, who went 2-for-4.
The Pirates broke the game open in the top of the sixth as Armstrong sent 12 batters to the plate and scored eight runs – four of them earned – as they took advantage of three UNG errors. The Pirates took the lead for good at 6-4 on a two-run double to center field by Peyton Roth, who went 3-for-5 with 3 RBI, off UNG reliever Victoria Sink (24-2).
Andrea Dalton, who went 2-for-5 with 3 RBI, added a RBI single through the right side. A sacrifice fly by Hannah Reppert and a run-scoring single by Haley Ellis made the score 10-5. Heather Ellis and Kacie Patterson each drove in a run to close of the scoring for the Pirates, who collected 13 hits in the game,
The Nighthawks, who rallied in the final at-bat in the first game, tried to work some more last-inning magic. North Georgia took advantage off three Armstrong errors to score five runs – only one earned -- in the seventh.
North Georgia had the winning run at home plate with one out, but Armstrong starter Ollivia McLemore (24-9) got out of further trouble as she got Ansley Phillips and Meagan May to ground out to end the game and seal the team's trip to Salem.
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