Tuesday July 28th, 2015 4:30AM

North Georgia softball clinches Regional victory, set for Super Regional

By staff reports
DAHLONEGA -- Top-seeded University of North Georgia advanced through the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional at Haines & Carolyn Hill Stadium unscathed, finishing off the three days of action with a 2-1 victory over fifth-seeded Wingate on Sunday.

The win guaranteed that the Nighthawks will host 19th-ranked Armstrong Atlantic State in the Southeast Super Regional May 16-17.

The 2014 Super Regional will mark the fourth time in the last five years that North Georgia has played host to the three game series. The Super Regional winner will advance to the 2014 NCAA Division II Championship on May 22-26 at Moyer Sports Complex in Salem, Va.

UNG third baseman Ansley Phillips provided her team with an early spark in the top of the first inning, knocking in center fielder Taylor Anne Merritt on a double to right field to give the Nighthawks a 1-0 lead.

Wingate answered quickly, posting a run in the bottom of the first thanks to a heads-up play by second baseman Mellena Helms, who advanced from second all the way to home plate on a fielding error by North Georgia.

The game remained 1-1 until the top of the third inning when first baseman Kim McMillan doubled to left field, bringing home shortstop Tiffanie Burns to help North Georgia hold a 2-1 advantage.

Nighthawks starting pitcher Courtney Poole simply got better as the game wore on allowing just two hits following the first inning. Poole also struck out four Bulldogs batters and had no earned runs in seven innings of quality work. She secured the team's spot in the Super Regional after retiring the final seven batters capped by a pair of putouts by Kaitlyn Seabolt. A diving catch in front of the Bulldogs' dugout preceded a routing ground ball put out that secured the Nighthawk's spot in the final 16.

Phillips led the offensive charge for the Nighthawks at the plate, finishing the contest with a 2-for-3 mark with a double and an RBI. McMillan's batting was also pivotal for North Georgia, as her lone hit of the afternoon proved to provide her side with the game-winning run.

Wingate's defeat at the hands of the Nighthawks marks the end of the team's season. The Bulldogs finish the 2014 campaign with a record of 38-20.

The victory for the Nighthawks, ranked second in the most recent National Fastpitch Coaches Association poll, leaves the team with a 46-9 record prior to the start of Super Regional play.
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