MILLEDGEVILLE, GA – Francis Marion University claimed an early lead over top-seeded and eighth-ranked University of North Georgia, but a two-run homer by Stephanie Hartness helped the Nighthawks rally for a 6-1 win over the Patriots, late Friday night (April 21) in the quarterfinals of the 2017 Peach Belt Conference Softball Tournament.
Francis Marion ends its season with a 27-22 record, while North Georgia (42-10) advances to Saturday's semifinals. The game was originally set to begin at 6:30 p.m., but was delayed by two hours because of earlier contests running long.
Francis Marion grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning with an unearned run. Freshman second baseman Rayni Newman doubled with two outs and came around to score when sophomore shortstop Taylor Brunson's ground ball was thrown wildly to first base.
The Nighthawks knotted the score with a second-inning run, but FMU freshman right-hander Sydney Holland (13-13) limited UNG to that single run on three hits over the first four frames. Hartness launched her two-run homer over the right field fence with two down in the bottom of the fifth.
The Patriots got their first two batters on base in the sixth, but could not push across a run. The Nighthawks then added three insurance runs in their half of the inning, an outburst highlighted by a two-run double off the bat of first baseman Jessica Finch.
Kylee Smith (25-4) struck out 14 FMU batters in 6.2 innings, while allowing only three hits.
FMU senior outfielder Briana Barzola finished the game 2-for-3, and concluded her career with 213 hits in193 contests. In addition to Barzola, Friday's game was the final contest for two Patriot senior outfielders: Mikala Barnhart and Taylor Brunson.
Holland surrendered six runs on nine hits in her six innings of work.