DAHLONEGA, Ga. - The Armstrong State University softball squad batted around in the top of the ninth, scoring four runs to take a 6-2 nine-inning win over No. 3 North Georgia in the first game of the NCAA Division II Southeast Super Regional on Thursday afternoon at Haines & Carolyn Hill Stadium in Dahlonega.
The Pirates (25-12) need to win just one more game to advance to the NCAA DII Softball Championships in Salem, Va. The two teams will meet at Noon on Friday, with an if-necessary game to follow at 2:30 p.m. if North Georgia (48-12) picks up the win in game one.
Armstrong State got on the board first thanks to junior Katie Collins' solo home run in the top of the first inning. North Georgia struck back in the bottom of the third as Hannah McSwain led off the inning with a solo shot of her own.
The Nighthawks took the lead in the bottom of the fourth inning when Jessica Smith reached third base on a couple of throwing errors by the Pirates, then scored on Kaylyn Anthony's RBI single for the 2-1 lead.
Collins would tie the game for the Pirates in the sixth with a solo shot, her second of the day.
North Georgia starter Kylee Smith and Armstrong State starter Jane Trzaska kept the opposing hitters at bay through the seventh and eighth innings. The Pirates started their ninth-inning rally with Hannah Reppert's leadoff ground rule double to right center field. A walk and a fielder's choice put runners at first and third with one out, then Tazha Williams drove in the tiebreaking run on a single to center field for a 3-2 Armstrong State lead.
The Pirates got insurance later in the innign as Logan Harrell drove a pair home with a two-run single down the right field line, then Trzaska followed with a bloop RBI single to right to cap the scoring in the inning.
Trzaska (17-7) then set the Nighthawks down in order in the bottom of the ninth to close out the win. She hurled nine innings of three-hit ball, giving up two runs - one earned - while walking two and striking out four.
Smith (31-6) took the loss for North Georgia, giving up 11 hits and six runs in nine innings, walking three while striking out six.
Collins went 2-for-5 with three runs scored and her two home runs to lead the Pirates at the plate, while Trzaska and Williams also added a pair of hits.
Armstrong State has advanced to the NCAA DII Championships three times out of the last four seasons. Pirate softball is the final Armstrong State athletic team in competition as the school will cease intercollegiate athletics after this Spring due to the impending merger with Georgia Southern University.