COLUMBUS — After a one-run contest in the first half of a Tuesday twinbill, the No. 2 University of North Georgia softball team needed an extra inning to knock off Columbus State to open Peach Belt Conference play. The Nighthawks won game one, 3-2, before a 7-4 win in the nightcap.
North Georgia struck first, scoring all three of their runs in the fourth inning. Shelby Hammontree hit a one-out homer to give the Nighthawks a 1-0 lead. After UNG loaded the bases with three of the next four batters, Hobby Gregory brought home two more on a single to center, putting UNG up, 3-0.
CSU did not go quietly, however, as the Cougars pushed a run across in the sixth inning on a RBI single from McKenzie Fagioli. A leadoff homer in the bottom of the seventh by JoJo Beyer cut the lead to just one run, but Kylee Smith struck out the side to earn the win.
Smith struck out 11 and walked just two while scattering six hits across her seven innings in the circle.
The Nighthawks quickly got the lead in the nightcap, scoring two runs after the first four batters of the inning reached base. Brittany Gilliam scored Allison Neely on a single up the middle to earn the game's first run before Marley Stowers doubled the lead on a single to the left side.
After a Jordan Deep sacrifice fly in the third frame made the score 3-0, Hammontree increased the lead again with a single that scored Kaylyn Anthony and put UNG up, 4-0.
The Cougars clawed back into the game, however, scoring runs late again. Lee Anne Rees hit a sixth-inning RBI single to put CSU on the board before the Cougars knotted the game with a three-run bomb from Calli Star.
The bats came alive for North Georgia in the eighth inning. Gregory hit a double to left center to score the game-winning run before Sydney Sprague and Stowers added two-out insurance runs for Smith. The sophomore sat down the Cougars in order in the extra frame to earn her 14th win of the year.
- All three of North Georgia's hits in game one came in the fourth inning. The Nighthawks had 12 hits in the second game of the doubleheader.
- Amber Johns started game two and threw five innings, giving up just one run off two hits and five walks. She struck out six Cougars in her appearance.
- Alishia Frierson led the Nighthawks at the plate, going 3-for-5 in the two games combined.
UNG will jump out of PBC play to take on the Indians of Catawba College on Thursday. First pitch of the doubleheader will be at 1 p.m. in Salisbury, North Carolina.