North Georgia softball extends winning streak to six after PBC sweep
The University of North Georgia softball team extended its winning streak to six in a row after the Nighthawks swept the Hurricanes of Georgia Southwestern at Haines & Carolyn Hill Stadium during a Peach Belt Conference (PBC) doubleheader on Saturday, April 6.
The Nighthawks utilized superb pitching and a potent lineup to sweep the Hurricanes during the conference doubleheader, defeating Georgia Southwestern 8-0 in both games, to remain atop the PBC standings.
Game one showcased the pitching prowess of UNG’s ace Kylee Smith. Smith began the game by striking out five of the first six Hurricane batters she faced. The crafty pitcher kept Georgia Southwestern’s lineup baffled throughout the game, tossing a no-hitter on her way to her 19th win of the season.
While the Hurricanes struggled to figure out an answer for Smith, the Nighthawks’ cache of powerful offensive weapons exploded for eight runs off 10 hits versus Georgia Southwestern.
North Georgia pushed a run across in the bottom of the first to take an early 1-0 lead over the Hurricanes when Hobby Gregory, who had been walked earlier in the inning, safely crossed home on a throwing error by Georgia Southwestern’s catcher. The Nighthawks added five more runs in the bottom of the third thanks to a two-run single by Shelby Hammontree and a RBI double off the bat of Cheyanne Mosteller to extend their lead to 6-0. The Nighthawks sealed the deal in the bottom of the fifth when they scored two runs off a pinch hit, walk off single by Harlee Williams.
Smith dazzled on the mound to improve to 19-1 on the season for UNG. Smith pitched five, scoreless innings of no-hit ball for North Georgia in the win and struck out 11 Hurricane batters. The double digit strikeout total marked the eighth time this season Smith has recorded 10 or more strikeouts in a game. Smith’s only blemishes on the day were two hit batters, accounting for Georgia Southwestern’s only baserunners in the game.
UNG’s Marley Stowers and Kaylee Womack each recorded two hits against the Hurricanes. Stowers went 2-for-3 at the plate and scored twice in the Nighthawks’ win while Womack went 2-for-2.
Hammontree and Williams led North Georgia in RBIs with two apiece.
The Nighthawks looked to complete the doubleheader sweep when they put freshman Abbie Crawford on the mound to battle it out with Georgia Southwestern’s Hayley Dickerson in game two.
Looking to pick up her ninth win of the season, Crawford got off to a solid start and held the Hurricanes scoreless in the top of the first.
In the bottom half of the inning, the Nighthawks once again displayed their offensive power and struck for three runs to take an early 3-0 lead. Olivia Sinquefield started the inning off with a single to left center. Gregory followed with a single to left to give North Georgia runners at first and second with Kaylyn Anthony coming to the plate. Anthony moved Sinquefield and Gregory to second and third on a fielder’s choice groundout to third base. After a walk to Womack loaded the bases and a foul out by Katie Collins for the second out of the inning, Stowers delivered a bases-clearing triple to right field to put the Nighthawks ahead 3-0.
After another scoreless inning from Crawford, the Nighthawks knocked Dickerson out of the game after only an inning of work and extended their lead to 7-0 in the bottom of the second.
Lexi Duncan started the four-run second inning for the Nighthawks with a lead-off bunt single. The speedy Duncan quickly swiped second to put a runner in scoring position for Mosteller. Mosteller was able to reach base on a single to first and advanced to second during the play to give North Georgia two runners in scoring position. The Nighthawks caught a break when Georgia Southwestern’s catcher committed a throwing error after she couldn’t hold on to a strike three call on Sinquefield. Sinquefield hustled safely to first, Mosteller advanced to third and Duncan scored from third to up the Nighthawks’ lead to 4-0. The next batter, Gregory, smashed a triple to left center to score two UNG runs The two-run triple ended the day for Dickerson and gave North Georgia a 6-0 lead. UNG added one more run off a RBI groundout to second from Anthony to take a 7-0 advantage.
The score remained the same until the bottom of the sixth when a wild pitch allowed Duncan to score the game-winning run. The run allowed the Nighthawks to earn their second 8-0 run-rule shortened victory over the Hurricanes on the day, giving them the doubleheader sweep.
The Nighthawks got some solid work from some of their younger arms in their pitching staff to combine for the victory. Crawford picked up the win to improve to 9-2 on the season. The freshman pitched three scoreless inning, allowing one hit, two walks and striking out one. Crawford was relieved by sophomore Riley Patton, who tossed one scoreless inning, and sophomore Laken Chambers finished the game off with two solid inning. The trio combined for just three hits in the six-inning game.
Gregory and Duncan led North Georgia at the plate, accounting for four of the Nighthawks’ eight hits in the game. Both Gregory and Duncan went 2-for-3 with two RBIs in the win.
Stowers continued to do well at the plate for UNG in the second game of the doubleheader, going 1-for-2 with threes RBIs. In the two games, Stowers went 3-for-5, knocked in three runs and scored twice.
The victory improved the Nighthawks’ overall record to 34-8 and their PBC record to 11-1 while extending the team’s winning streak to six games. North Georgia sits atop the PBC standings with eight conference games remaining in the 2019 regular season.
The UNG softball team will be back in action when it travels to St. Augustine, Fla. to take on Flagler College in a PBC doubleheader on Friday, April 12. First pitch for game one is scheduled for 3 p.m. Game two will follow at 5 p.m.