Lead Slips Away From Lady Cougars in 2-1 Loss to No. 11 North Georgia
Dahlonega – The 11th ranked and top-seeded North Georgia scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to rally to defeat fifth-seeded Columbus State University 2-1 Saturday afternoon in the NCAA Southeast Dahlonega Regional. The regional is being hosted by North Georgia and is taking place at Hines & Carolyn Hill Stadium in Dahlonega, Georgia.
With the victory, North Georgia (47-8) advances to tomorrow's regional final. CSU (40-19) will now face the winner of the King/Augusta State game this evening in an elimination contest at 6:30 p.m.
The bottom of the seventh started off rocky for the Lady Cougars as Rochelle Shuman reached first base on a third strike wild pitch. The next batter Hilary Cox rolled one to Nina Rubio at second but the sophomore couldn't make the play allowing both runners to reach base safely.
After a fielder's choice erased a runner at third base, yet another error extended the inning. Katherine Martin hit a groundball to third base that Kristen Gregory fielded but her throw pulled Morgan Staffins off the first base bag.
A Sarah Johnson infield single drove the first run in for the Saints before a controversial ending. With the bases still loaded, Kayla Minger hit a chopper to Staffins at first who fired it to Casey Googe at the plate to record the force out. Googe then tried to finish off the double play by throwing back to Staffins at first but her throw hit Minger and trickled into rightfield allowing Martin to score the game-winning run. Minger appeared to be very close to being out of the base paths but the call on the field stood giving the Saint the comeback victory.
Before then, Columbus State's (40-19) starter Mollie Russell had a perfect game going until one-out in the bottom of the sixth when Tiffanie Burns singled up the middle. After a sacrifice bunt, Pilar Harden lined a ball to centerfield that Morgan Knight jumped for and made a spectacular catch to keep the score 1-0 in favor of CSU.
North Georgia starter Mellissa Dickie dominated the first two innings retiring the first six batters she faced in only 19 pitches. The Peach Belt Conference Freshman of the Year then ran into trouble in the third inning.
CSU freshman Taylor Tuner led the frame off as she laced a 1-1 pitch into rightfield for the first hit of the contest. After back-to-back fielder's choices, Rubio legged out an infield hit and a walk to Knight loaded the bases for Googe. During the at-bat, a Dickie pitch eluded catcher Hilary Cox allowing Brianigan Wix to score.
The Lady Cougars had one last chance in the sixth inning to put insurance runs on the board as Rubio reached based on a fielder error. A sacrifice bunt moved her to second before the Saints decided to intentionally walk Googe.
After an eight pitch at-bat, Kara Gordon laced a ball to NGA third baseman Karlie Gillam who tagged the bag and gunned Gordon out at first for the double play.
Mollie Russell (21-11) was the hard luck loser throwing 6.2 innings allowing two hits and two unearned run. She did not issue a walk and induced 18 groundball outs.
Melissa Dickie was also impressive in the complete game effort. The freshman improved her record to 20-0 as she allowed just two hits and an unearned run.
Nina Rubio and Taylor Turner had CSU's two hits while Sarah Johnson and Tiffanie Burns both had a base knock for the Saints.