OKLAHOMA CITY – The University of North Georgia claimed the NCAA Division II Softball National Championship with a 5-0 victory over Dixie State University on a beautiful Memorial Day afternoon at Tom Heath Field on the campus of Oklahoma Christian University.
It was the first softball national championship for the Nighthawks (54-8) as well as the first national title in UNG Athletics history. The title was made possible because of a five-game run of wins after being no-hit in their tournament opener.
Junior Courtney Poole took home to MVP honors after a two-hit complete game shutout. The Schutt Sports NFCA National Player of the Year struck out four Red Storm (52-8), allowed just two base runners, and did not walk a batter to complete a record-breaking season with a 47-4 record.
She pitched every inning of the tournament (41 innings), going 5-1 with a 1.20 ERA, 31 strikeouts and just two walks. Poole held her opponents to a .178 batting average and recorded two shutouts.
Poole got all the offense she would need in a four-run second.
Two miscues by Dixie State and a RBI singles by Meredith Heyer and Tiffanie Burns aided North Georgia in a four-run second inning. The first two runs came across when Heyer’s single to left was misplayed. The second error extended the inning and allowed the third run to score. Two batters later, Burns dumped her run-scoring single just out of the reach of the diving second baseman.
Heyer gave the Nighthawks a five-run cushion with a RBI double in the fifth. She finished 2-for-3 with two RBI.
Courtney Hine and Jose Hartman each recorded a singles for the Red Storm. Senior Michelle Duncan suffered the loss. She allowed four runs, two earned on five hits in 1.2 innings. She struck out three and walked one, dropping her first decision of the season and finishing with a 31-1 record.
-- Image courtesy of Richard T. Clifton