DAHLONEGA — The No. 3 really is the magic number at North Georgia College & State University.
After losing Game 1 of the series with Lanoir-Rhyne, the Lady Saints scored six runs in the fifth inning of Game 3 to beat Lanoir-Rhyne 10-2 and advance to their third straight Division II Softball College World Series.
“It was just a grind for both teams,” pitcher Sarah Phillips said. “With a good hitting team like Lenoir-Rhyne, if you get in a bad situation, they’re going to take advantage of it.”
The Lady Saints (52-10) forced a deciding Game 3 with a 9-7 win in Game 2 earlier Saturday.
The first two games were filled with offense, but pitchers dominated the opening innings of Game 3, tossing up zeros on both sides until the fourth frame when North Georgia came alive at the plate and struck for a pair of runs.
The Lady Bears (45-10) cut the deficit to one on a Megan Laxton home run, which ignited the Lady Saints.
Needing a win to reach their third straight College World Series freshman Ansley Williams hit a grand slam to straight away center field to give the Lady Saints a commanding 8-1 lead.
“It’s everything you work for,” Williams said of reaching the World Series. “I’m excited. It’s overwhelming.”
Sarah Johnson and Pilar Harden closed the door on the win with back-to-back home runs in the sixth inning.
Harden, who hit a 3-run home run in Game 2, finished the day 3-for-6 with two home runs and four RBIs.
Williams went 3-for-5 with five RBIs in Game 3. The back-to-back home runs was the second time in as many days the duo accomplished the feat, and it gave North Georgia 12 homers in the three-game series.
“Two tough losses for us today,” Lenoir-Ryhne coach Shena Holler said. “We held them as long as we could, but I think we ran out of gas.”
Jessica Coan earned the win in both games, tossing all six innings and allowing just three hits and two runs while striking out six.
North Georgia will now turn its attention to the World Series in Salem, Va. The Saints’ opening round matchup is against Indiana (Pa.) at 5 p.m. Thursday at the Moyer Sports Complex.
NORTH GEORGIA 9, LANOIR-RYHNE 7: Pilar Harden hit a 3-run home run to cap a five-run fifth inning Saturday, as the Lady Saints won Game 2 of the Division II Softball Southeast Super Regional Tournament.
“That inning was one of the gutsiest we’ve had in a while,” Anderson said.
The Lady Bears threatened in the bottom of the fifth after loading the bases on three straight walks. Jessica Coan secured the win by retiring the next three batters she faced and leave the bases loaded.