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College softball: North Georgia locks up spot in Division II College World Series
North Georgia
North Georgia softball players celebrate beating Young Harris in the Southeast Super Regional on Friday in Dahlonega.

University of North Georgia freshman Hobby Gregory was following the plan right on cue as she broke for the plate on a seventh-inning double steal Friday against Young Harris in the second game of the Division II Southeast Super Regional in Dahlonega. With the scored tied, North Georgia was trying to push across the go-ahead run to close out the best-of-three series. 

And Gregory did just what she was supposed to do for the Nighthawks. Now, North Georgia is right in the thick of things as it chases its second national championship in school history (2015), after the thrilling 2-1 victory in the second game of the weekend series.

“It feels amazing,” said Gregory. “This is the best feeling I’ve felt in my life.”

This marks the fifth trip to the Division II Women’s College World Series under the leadership of coach Mike Davenport. 

“It feels phenomenal,” Davenport said. “I have to credit these young ladies for absolutely battling their hearts out the entire season.”

North Georgia’s lead runner scored the go-ahead run in an unconventional fashion. 

North Georgia’s Marley Stowers started the play by breaking for second base on a steal attempt, which drew a throw that was cut off by the Young Harris second baseman and quickly fired home to try and cut down Gregory.

Even though Young Harris catcher Jill Torres was there in time to apply the tag, obstruction was called against the Mountain Lions’ player by the home plate umpire, delivering the go-ahead run and subsequent victory for North Georgia.

Gregory knew with the game on the line, she had to be successful running home.

“If I was out, I would never get to see the field again,” Gregory said. “I knew coach would be mad.

“There was so much to gain from that, so that was all I was thinking was to get home and score.”

Young Harris coach Kayla Lucas immediately came out to contest the call, but to no avail. North Georgia only needed two games to take care of the series against its Peach Belt Conference rival, after beating Young Harris 2-0 in Thursday’s opener. 

The Nighthawks will open in the eight-team field of the World Series against an opponent still to be determined Thursday in Salem, Virginia.

In the bottom of the seventh, Brittany Gilliam fielded a routine ground ball at first base for North Georgia and stepped on the bag for the final out. 

Then, a huge celebration commenced.

“It’s a crazy feeling,” said North Georgia pitcher Kylee Smith, who threw a complete game with eight strikeouts. “I am so excited to go with 20 of my best friends (to the World Series). 

“I mean, we put in so much work and so much time on and off the field ... it’s just a great feeling.”

In the top of the sixth inning, North Georgia tied it at 1-all with Kaylyn Anthony’s solo home run. Young Harris scored first in the fourth inning when Kristan Lizardi’s hit plated Georgia Webb. 

North Georgia is riding a 19-game winning streak heading into the Women’s College World Series. Once the World Series field is set, the NCAA will reseed teams to determine matchups.