For the fifth consecutive year, the No. 1 University of North Georgia softball team claimed the Peach Belt Conference Tournament Championship Saturday
with a 4-0 win over Columbus State at Haines & Carolyn Hill Stadium. Earlier in the day, the Nighthawks broke the program’s single season wins record with a five inning 8-0 win over Lander in the semifinals.
Jordan Deep got things started in the second inning with a solo bomb to left field to put UNG on top, 1-0. In the third, the Nighthawks got rolling again with a RBI double from Brittany Gilliam followed by a RBI single from Alishia Frierson to push North Georgia out to a 3-0 lead.
Lexi Duncan kept the rally going in the inning with a double to the wall in right center to plate Frierson before a RBI single by Sydney Sprague to cap off the five-run inning.
Sprague walked the game off in the fifth with a two-run bomb to deep center to push the Nighthawks to their 10th PBC Championship game.
Both teams were quiet headed into the bottom of the third inning when Sprague struck again for another two-run blast to give UNG a 2-0 lead. After three more quiet innings, Shelby Hammontree hit a two-run bomb that plated Gilliam and gave the Nighthawks the four-run cushion.
Kylee Smith (30-1) threw her second one-hitter of the day and struck out nine batters to push the Nighthawks to their fifth consecutive conference tournament championship.
– North Georgia has now won 56 games this season, breaking the program record for wins in a single season that was at 54 previously. UNG is 56-2 headed into the NCAA Division II regional round next weekend.
– The Nighthawks break the conference record for consecutive tournament championships that Kennesaw State held from 1995-98.
– Smith, Hammontree and Sprague were named to the All-Tournament team, while Sprague was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
– The Nighthawks are now 8-2 all-time in PBC Tournament championship games and have still never lost in the league’s tournament when holding the top seed.
The Nighthawks, No. 1 in the nation and in the latest regional rankings, will likely host the regional round of the NCAA Division II Softball Tournament but will await the selection show to be broadcast Monday morning at 10 a.m. on NCAA.com.