SALEM, VA - Top-ranked Alabama-Huntsville left no room for doubt Friday afternoon in the second round of the NCAA Division II National Championships, pounding out four home runs and running away with a 14-2 victory over North Georgia in the battle of the top two teams in the country at the Moyer Sports Complex in Salem, Va.
The Lady Chargers (47-5-1) now take the fast track to Sunday's semifinal round and are in the driver's seat to capture the bottom half of the bracket. North Georgia (53-11), which lost to the Chargers for the fourth time this season, are slated to play at 5 p.m. Saturday in an elimination game against the winner of C.W Post and Saginaw Valley.
The second straight game, North Georgia struggled early, as Kathryn Whitlock drilled an 0-2 pitch over the wall in right center to give the Lady Chargers a 2-0 lead in the first inning.
Alabama-Huntsville doubled their lead in the second inning, using a single off the bat of Krystal Johnson to score a run. Whitlock followed and coaxed a bases loaded walk to make it 4-0.
The Lady Saints cut the lead in half in the bottom of the second inning on a Hilary Cox two-run home run. The home run for Cox is her second in as many days and 14th of the season.
Sarah Phillips entered in the third inning, and after a scoreless opening frame, the Lady Chargers' bats came to life with a four spot in the fourth and one more in the fifth to take a commanding 9-2 lead. Mary Kelley launched a three-run home run in the fourth inning, and Needham belted a solo shot in the fifth to highlight the offensive surge for Alabama-Huntsville.
The Lady Chargers pushed five runs across in the seventh inning, including a two-run blast off the bat of Sam Deep to give them a 14-2 lead. The 14 runs for Alabama-Huntsville are the most runs ever scored in a game at the Division II National Championships.
Jessica Coan (27-5) suffered the loss, allowing four runs on four hits in just two innings. Phillips tossed the final five innings, allowing 12 hits and 10 runs, while striking out five.
North Georgia recorded 10 hits but left nine runners on base.