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Cathi Aradi

NCAA Div. II Championship: North Georgia Escapes Opening Round With Win

 SALEM, VA – North Georgia was down to its last pitch, but forced extra innings and came through with a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 10th inning to defeat Dixie State, 5-3. 

With the win, North Georgia (49-3) advances to play Angelo State at noon on Friday while Dixie State (41-12) drops to the losers bracket and will face off against Indianapolis at noon on Saturday in an elimination game. 

Dixie State was held hitless by North Georgia first-team All-America pitcher Sarah Phillips through four innings of play, but the Red Devils strung together three hits in the top of the fifth inning. The rally started with a leadoff hit from third baseman Haley Schumers, followed by a single from Kelsey Mendenhall. After Breanna Egge put down as successful sacrifice bunt to advance the pair into scoring position, catcher Jaki Hawkins crushed a three-run home run over the fence in left center, giving the Red Storm a 3-0 lead. 

North Georgia was unable to get a runner in scoring position in the fifth or sixth inning, but made things interesting in the bottom of the seventh. Catcher Hilary Cox led off the inning with a single, but was erased on a Stephanie Farmakis fielders choice. Kayla Martin followed with a single to deep left center and Farmakis was thrown out trying to take third base on the play for the second out of the inning. After Kaelin Farringotn walked on four pitches, leadoff hitter Laura Voyles was down to her last strike before connecting on a three-run blast to left center, tying the game a 3-3 and sending the contest into extra innings. 

The teams traded zeroes until the bottom of the 10th inning when Voyles drew a leadoff walk and was sacrificed to second by Kasey Knight. That brought right fielder Courtney McGuire to the plate, where she crushed a home run to left field to end the game with the Saints winning 5-3. 

Phillips got the win for North Georgia, improving to 38-1 on the season. She struck out eight and walked one. Lauren Folta took the hard-luck loss for Dixie State, falling to 15-5 on the season.