Hurricanes softball team finishes Runner-Up at Peach Belt Conference Softball Tournament
Published 1:53 pm Monday, May 6, 2019
From Staff Reports
DAHLONEGA, GA – In the Peach Belt Conference championship game against North Georgia, the Georgia Southwestern State University softball team took the lead in the top of the fourth inning on an RBI single by Chloe Zoeller. However, the Nighthawks refused to go away. UNG ended the Hurricanes’ hopes of winning the PBC Championship and advancing to the NCAA Division II national tournament. The Nighthawks won the PBC championship game 3-1 on Saturday, May 4, at Haines & Carolyn Hill Stadium in Dahlonega, GA.
Had the Hurricanes won, it would have been the first PBC tournament championship in GSW softball history.
The Hurricanes won their first two games of the tournament. They defeated Columbus State 7-4 on Friday, May 3, in the first round. GSW then dispatched Young Harris College (YHC) 2-0 in the semifinals on Saturday, May 4, before losing to UNG in the championship game later that day.
GSW finishes their historic season with a record of 29-26, tying the school record for most wins in program history during the NCAA Division II era. The 2013 team also went 29-26 on the season.
Shannon Gibson, Kayla Kerr and Sarah Beth King were all named to the 2019 PBC All-Tournament Team.
The semifinal game against YHC was a pitchers’ dual. GSW’s Hayley Tierce picked up the first hit in the game in the top of the fourth when she singled to second base. King and Aimee Oglesby both drew walks to load the bases with two outs. Briana Bryson came to the plate with the opportunity to drive in multiple runs for the Hurricanes. Bryson put together a courageous at bat, as it took 12 pitches. Unfortunately, Bryson struck out, leaving three Hurricanes stranded. The Mountain Lions got two hits of their own to put runners in scoring position in the bottom half of the fourth, but were unable to capitalize.
Due to lightning in the area and an in-coming storm, the game was delayed in the top of the fifth inning for three hours.
Once play resumed, the Hurricanes went to work in the top of the sixth inning. Lauren Kuerzi singled up the middle. Haley Griffin came in to pinch run for Kuerzi. With a runner on base, King belted a two-run home run over the left field wall for the only runs of the game.
Gibson was the starting pitcher for GSW. She gave up no runs on three hits while walking three YHC batters and striking out three. YHC pitchers combined for a total of nine strikeouts while only giving up five hits.
With the semifinal win over YHC behind them, the Hurricanes focused on their next and most important task: toppling one of the best teams in the country, the UNG Nighthawks, in their home city. GSW was one win away from winning the PBC Tournament Championship and getting an automatic bid to the NCAA Division II national tournament. In the top of the fourth inning, Kuerzi led off the inning with a single. Both King and Oglesby drew walks, loading the bases for GSW. With two outs, Zoeller singled, driving in an RBI and giving the Hurricanes a 1-0 lead.
However, the Nighthawks returned the favor in the bottom of the fifth inning as Katie Collins led off the inning with a home run to tie the game at 1-1. Shelby Hammontree then gave the Nighthawks the lead on an RBI single. UNG added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth to secure their 3-1 win and their sixth consecutive PBC Championship.
Zoeller led the Hurricanes’ offensive attack. She went 3-for-4 at the plate and drove in the team’s only run of the game. Gibson, who started in the circle for GSW, took her ninth loss of the season. She pitched 4.1 innings and gave up two runs on three hits. UNG starting pitcher Kylee Smith struck out 12 GSW batters to pick up her 27th win.