DAHLONEGA, Ga. – Third-ranked North Georgia ended the 2011 regular season in style Monday afternoon, sweeping Francis Marion 2-1 and 6-1 at Haines & Carolyn Hill Stadium in Peach Belt Conference action.
A day after learning a loss by Columbus State sealed the Saints’ third consecutive PBC title, North Georgia never let up, sweeping the Patriots to improve to 43-9 overall. The Saints ended the regular season at 17-3 in conference play.
Francis Marion’s season came to an end as it fell short of the 2011 PBC Tournament, ending the year at 24-21-1 overall, 7-13 in league action, and one game out of the eighth and final spot to reach the tournament.
The Saints will be looking to earn their third consecutive PBC Tournament championship starting April 15. North Georgia has played in the title game each of the last three years, falling to Georgia College in 2008, before taking down USC Aiken in 2009 and Francis Marion in 2010.
On Monday afternoon, game one was scoreless and hitless in the second inning when Chelle Phillips took the third pitch she saw and drilled a solo home run to left field to send the Patriots out to a 1-0 lead.
The Saints were held without a hit until the fourth inning when Pilar Harden connected on a double to left center with two outs. Katherine Martin followed and sent a base knock up the middle to send Harden home and knot the score at 1-1.
The score stayed deadlocked until the bottom of the seventh inning when Kayla Martin blasted a leadoff solo home run to left center, putting the Saints in front for good and sending North Georgia to a 2-1 victory.
Jessica Coan (22-4) picked up the win with her 21st complete game of the season, as she tallied her 15th game of 10 or more strikeouts by fanning 11 Patriot batters. Kayla Ellingsen (11-8) was the tough-luck loser, allowing two runs and striking out four in 6.0 innings of work.
The nightcap featured another stellar pitching performance as Sarah Phillips stifled the Francis Marion lineup and tossed a no-hitter in the final regular season game of her collegiate career.
Francis Marion scraped together a run in the first inning as a leadoff walk led to a fielder’s choice before a sacrifice fly sent Destinea Scheider home to give the Patriots a 1-0 lead once again.
The lead would be short lived as the Saints came out firing in the bottom of the first inning with three consecutive singles, followed by a fielder’s choice and a fielding error to give North Georgia a 4-0 lead. An errant throw later in the frame brought Katherine Martin racing home and capped the five-run first inning.
The Saints added a single run in the fourth inning on a Kasey Knight groundout, and Phillips did the rest, shutting down the Patriots by striking out five to improve to 17-4 on the season.