UNG battles back to split doubleheader, opens PBC play 1-1

Responding to adversity with a champion’s resolve, North Georgia fought back from a 2-1 deficit in the third inning to win in comeback fashion against Armstrong Atlantic and salvage a split of Sunday’s doubleheader.

The Nighthawks pulled out a 7-2 victory over the Pirates of Armstrong Atlantic in game two after falling in extra innings in game one.

“Well we knew it was going to be a challenge,” head coach Mike Davenport said. “Armstrong is, to me, the most veteran team in the league. But I was proud of our kids. We got down 2-to-1 and then came back and put three on the board.”

Alishia Frierson celebrates with her teammates after hitting her first collegiate home run to give the Nighthawks a 1-0 lead in game two of Sunday's doubleheader. (Photo by Jake Cantrell)

Alishia Frierson celebrates with her teammates after hitting her first collegiate home run to give the Nighthawks a 1-0 lead in game two of Sunday’s doubleheader. (Photo by Jake Cantrell)

After hitting the first home run of her college career in the first inning, freshman Alishia Frierson smashed a double off the center field wall, which scored Stephanie Hartness from first base to tie the game and begin a two-out rally in the third inning. Kaylyn Anthony followed Frierson with a two-run home run over the left field wall to give the Nighthawks a 4-2 lead.

The new, two-run lead would be enough for North Georgia and pitcher Amber Johns who earned the win, pitching all seven innings. Once the lead was regained, Johns gave up only three hits, keeping the Pirates off the scoreboard for the remainder of the game.

“I thought Amber did a great job keeping them off balance a little bit,” Davenport said.

UNG pitcher Amber Johns winds up for a pitch in Sunday's second game. Johns earned the win, only giving up two runs over seven innings. (Photo by Jake Cantrell)

UNG pitcher Amber Johns winds up for a pitch in Sunday’s second game. Johns earned the win, only giving up two runs over seven innings. (Photo by Jake Cantrell)

The solid pitching performance by Johns was aided by a smooth defensive performance by the entire team, who played error-free softball throughout both games Sunday.

“Our outfield did a tremendous job tracking balls down for us,” Davenport said.

Offensively, the Nighthawks piled on three more runs in the next three innings. Jessica Finch started the fourth inning with a double to right field. The run would score on the next at-bat as Kali Turner forced an error on a hit to the shortstop. Hartness began the fifth inning with a solo home run to center field, adding an extra insurance run at 6-2.

Jessica Finch connects on a pitch for a double during game two of Sunday's doubleheader against Armstrong Atlantic. (Photo by Jake Cantrell)

Jessica Finch connects on a pitch for a double during game two of Sunday’s doubleheader against Armstrong Atlantic. (Photo by Jake Cantrell)

The final run of the game came off the bat of Hannah McSwain in the sixth inning. The senior waved her arms with delight as she rounded third, following a shot sent over the left field wall. While the seventh run was unimportant to the result, it provided a much-needed injection of confidence for McSwain, who was hitless in her last eight at-bats, which could be extremely important as the team heads deeper into Peach Belt Conference play.

In game one of the doubleheader, Armstrong Atlantic got the best of the Nighthawks in extra innings with a two-run home run in the eighth inning, giving them a 3-1 lead and eventual victory. Despite the loss, freshman Kylee Smith recorded eight strikeouts over eight innings pitched while only allowing five hits. Smith leads all PBC pitchers in wins, ERA and strikeouts.

Sunday’s doubleheader was the first games of the Nighthawks’ conference schedule. Their next test will be a PBC doubleheader at Montevallo University on March 11.

About Jake Cantrell (15 Articles)
Jake Cantrell is a Journalism major at the University of North Georgia. He is a Staff Writer for the Vanguard. Jake is in his first semester of working at the Vanguard and also worked as Sports Intern at The Dahlonega during the summer. He plans to make a career of sports writing or broadcasting.

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