May 27, 2010

Box Score

By Bo Allegrucci
Special to

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. - Molloy nearly punctured the North Georgia mystique in the very first at-bat of the NCAA Division II national softball tournament Thursday. But instead, undefeated and top-ranked North Georgia tamed the upset-minded Lions with two solo home runs and two runs in the bottom of the fourth for a 4-0 win.

North Georgia (50-0) advances to the second round in the championship bracket where it will play the Valdosta State-Bloomsburg winner Friday at 4 p.m. Molloy (43-20) drops into the loser's bracket in the double-elimination tournament.

The first two Molloy hitters reached base on North Georgia ace Sarah Jones, but Jones promptly induced a pair of groundballs, the second of which turned into a doubleplay when Molloy pitcher/leadoff hitter Megan Butterworth was caught in an inning-ending rundown between home and third.

North Georgia second baseman Laura Voyles then nailed Butterworth for a long leadoff homerun in the bottom of the first, and the Saints were up 1-0.

Butterworth -- a freshman left-hander from North Bellmore, New York -- quickly settled in and would strike out six straight Saints at one point before North Georgia's Courtney McGuire led off the bottom of the fourth with another solo homer to make it 2-0.

Jones took over from there for North Georgia in the circle. The Peach Belt Conference and southeast regional pitcher of the year allowed just one base runner over the final five innings, striking out six in a complete-game, three-hit shutout.

The Saints gave Jones two insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth, doubling their lead for good measure. Left fielder Lauren Dykes led off with a single and stole second before scoring on a McGuire triple, and McGuire scored on a Hilary Cox single to make it 4-0.