Softball team sweeps West Georgia, gets back in GSC race

FLORENCE – The University of North Alabama softball team picked up a pair of key Gulf South Conference victories Sunday afternoon with two home wins over West Georgia. The sweep, along with a pair of losses by West Alabama on the same day, moved the Lions into a tie for fourth place in the GSC East Division.

UNA is now 17-19 overall with a 4-6 mark in league play. With the losses, UWG falls to 12-30, 0-10. The top four teams from each division advance to the GSC Tournament held April 30 through May 2 in Southaven, Miss.

In the first game, Natalie Harrison went 2-for-2 and scored a run to lead the Lions. Jennifer Sexton picked up the win in the circle after allowing one run off five hits. She also had four strikeouts to up her GSC-leading season total to 150 on the year.

In the bottom of the second inning, UNA got an RBI-single by Kathryn Young to take an early lead. The hit scored Ally Pridmore, who walked to lead off the inning.

After West Georgia tied the game with a single run in the top of the fifth, the Lions responded with three runs in the bottom of the inning. A two-run double by Emily Barnes briefly made the score 3-1 before Maggie Eades produced a two-out single through the right side.

In the second game, UNA had to hold off a late run by the Wolves to pick up a 9-7 victory. The Lions led 7-0 after four innings and had chances to end the game early via the eight-run mercy rule. After the Lions failed to score in the bottom of the fifth, UWG got back in the game with a five-run sixth inning.

North Alabama added a pair of insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth, which proved to be the difference in the game. After an RBI-double by Eades scored Jennifer Sharp and Andrea Palmer made the score 9-5, the Wolves were able to push two runs across the plate in the top of the seventh. With the bases loaded and two outs, starting pitcher Laurin Watts was able to get a ground out to end the game.

Watts (7-9) picked up the victory after scattering five hits over seven innings with five strikeouts. Only one of the Wolves' seven runs was earned after UNA committed four errors on the day.

At the plate, the Lions pounded out 10 hits with Sharp leading the way. The junior went 2-for-2 with three RBI and two runs scored, including her 11th home run of the season in the third inning.

Young also had two hits on the day and finished the four-game weekend with a team-high .538 batting average for the Lions.

North Alabama will begin the second half of its GSC schedule next weekend by hosting Valdosta State and West Florida. The Lions will play the Blazers Saturday at 1 p.m., the face the Argonauts the following day at noon.