By Caleb Bailey, Staff Writer
The Armstrong Pirates softball team played their final road series of the regular season when the traveled to Dahlonega to play the Peach Belt-leading North Georgia Nighthawks. The doubleheader took place April 18 and the first game saw the Nighthawks continue their dominance in the conference.
The Nighthawks opened up an early 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning thanks to a pair of RBI singles by Meredith Heyer and Katie Block. The Nighthawks shut out the Pirates and Courtney Poole took the complete game win by allowing only three hits and striking out eight. The Nighthawks stayed perfect in the PBC and also clinched the regular season title with the 5-0 win in Game 1.
Game 2 saw the Pirates pull off a shocking upset as they were able to hold off a late rally by the Nighthawks to hand them their first conference loss of the season. The Pirates opened up an early 3-0 lead in the first inning thanks to a rally started off by an RBI double by freshman Autumn Parrish. Junior Michelle Breen brought home another run off of a sacrifice RBI and fellow junior Ashley Sterritt reached first base on an error to extend the lead to 3-0.
The Pirates held a slim 4-1 lead in the bottom of the sixth as the Nighthawks began to rally themselves back into the game. Kim McMillan cracked a RBI double and the Nighthawks added one more run on the board thanks to a Pirate error. Sophomore Tori Bates shut down the Nighthawks to preserve the win for her team.
Bates finished her complete game with only two hits allowed that notched her her second straight victory of the season to advance to 2-0.
“I looked to my team for support,” Bates said. “I hear the girls pulling for me and that just makes me want to work harder. As a team, we support each other and because they believe in me and have my back, I know that they will work just as hard for me and our program.”
Sophomore Jane Trzaska has been dynamite for the Pirates all season and has been a key piece for their success. She talked about the team pulling off the big upset: “I’m very proud of how we played this weekend. We made adjustments at the plate to push across runs in the second game to get ahead and made the plays to keep them off the board. We are playing well, which is good going into the postseason.”
The Pirates finished their regular season with a doubleheader against Georgia College on April 20 that decided the number two team in the PBC standings. Parrish talked about what the team had to do to get prepared for the match-up.
“After splitting with the undefeated North Georgia last weekend, it will definitely give our team the confidence that we need to do well in the series against Georgia College. We are a very talented team and I know that if we all play together, we will be successful in the series.”
On April 20, the Pirates hosted the season finale against the Bobcats in a doubleheader that decided the number two team in the PBC. The Pirates rallied in the bottom of the seventh inning to win Game 1 4-3 and lost Game 2 10-6 thanks to a five-run tenth inning by the Bobcats. This brings the Pirates final record to 29-18 with an 18-6 conference record. The PBC Tournament begins April 24, and takes place at Georgia College.