North Georgia tops Lander, barely
Harden, Coan lift No. 13 Saints past struggling Lander
GREENWOOD, S.C. – No. 13 North Georgia used dominating pitching and a clutch hit to sweep Lander on Sunday 3-1 and 2-1 in 8.0 innings to help boost their win streak at Doug Spears Field.
In the opener, Karlie Gillam got the Saints (41-7, 15-3 PBC) off on the right track right away in the first inning, when she hit a two-run home run over the centerfield wall. Gillam finished 1 for 3 with the two RBI and a run scored, pushing her team-high batting average to .341.
That was all the scoring that Melissa Dickie (16-0) would need. The freshman remained perfect on the season and has put herself in position for postseason honors. Dickie threw her 11th complete game en route to the win. She finished the game with no earned runs and six hits allowed, dropping her ERA to a team-best 1.19.
Also coming through with hits were Hilary Cox, Sarah Johnson, Kayla Minger and Tiffanie Burns.
Pilar Harden scored on the home run by Gillam, while Johnson scored in the seventh inning to give the Saints some insurance. Harden walked three times in the game.
Despite being outhit by Lander 6-5, Dickie and the North Georgia defense limited the host Bearcats to just one extra-base hit.
The drama picked up in the second game of the doubleheader, as all three seniors played in intricate part in the win.
With two outs in the seventh inning, the Saints still trailed by one to Lander (26-26, 4-16 PBC), which only had four league wins on the season.
After Callie Fernandez drew a key hit by pitch with two down, Katie Block came on to pinch run, accounting for the tying run.
Harden stepped up to the plate, drew a full count, then roped the game-tying RBI double to rightcenter, allowing Block to slide head first into home plate to tie the game at 1-1.
Harden has been arguably the hottest hitter for the Saints as of late, boosting her average to .322 recently. She finished 2 for 3 with a walk and an RBI.
Not to go unnoticed was the return of Jessica Coan (22-6) to the rotation. The senior looked as if she hadn't missed a beat, throwing eight strong innings allowing just one earned run.
She struck out nine batters and only surrendered three hits, looking nearly untouchable.
Hilary Cox went 2 for 4 at the plate and played an outstanding game defensively.
The Saints kept their hopes of a fourth consecutive PBC crown alive as North Georgia scored the go-ahead run in the eighth inning, when Katherine Martin singled to bring in Taylor Anne Merrit, who was brough on to pinch run for Cox. The Saints left runners stranded, failing to extend the lead, but Coan only needed the one-run advantage.