Patriots fall to top-ranked Saints 9-5 in PBC championship game

Florence, SC - From Francis Marion University

FLORENCE, SC – Second baseman Laura Voyles homered twice and drove in four runs to power top-ranked, top-seeded, and unbeaten North Georgia College & State University to a 9-5 win over third-seeded Francis Marion University, Sunday afternoon (April 18) in the championship game of the 2010 Peach Belt Conference Tournament at the Freedom Florence Recreational Complex.

North Georgia (45-0) earns the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Division II National Tournament.  Francis Marion (34-14) was making its first-ever title game appearance.  The Patriots must now wait for the announcement of the at-large invitations in May.

Voyles and junior right-hander Sarah Phillips were named tournament Co-Most Valuable Players.  Phillips (38-0) allowed five runs (four earned) on nine hits, while striking out five and walking no one.  The runs were the first she had allowed in four tournament games. She also tied the PBC career record for wins by registering her 97th victory.

Voyles finished the tournament with four homers and nine RBIs.

Senior left-hander Michaela Wolf (20-8) was the losing pitcher.  She is third on the all-time PBC wins list with 90.

North Georgia first baseman Kayla Martin was 3-for-3 with two runs scored, while designated player Leslee Smith and centerfielder Pilar Harden both cranked two-run homers.

FMU junior rightfielder Chelle Phillips was 4-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI, while second baseman Ashley Jaramillo plated two runs with a squeeze bunt and an RBI single.

After an infield RBI single by Natasha Willemse, Voyles hit a three-run homer in the second inning to stake the Saints to a 4-0 lead.  FMU leftfielder Jessica Birchmeier appeared to glove Voyles' hit momentarily but was unable to hold onto the ball as she hit the left center field fence.

Francis Marion scratched across the first run against Sarah Phillips in the fourth when Chelle Phillips singled, advanced to third on an error, and scored on Jaramillo's squeeze bunt.

The Patriots then took a 5-4 lead with a four-run top of the fifth.  FMU got run-scoring hits from Kat Beauvais, Phillips, and Jaramillo and a sacrifice fly by Wolf.

The Saints responded with four runs in the bottom of the fifth.  The two-run shots by Smith and Harden put North Georgia back ahead 8-5.  A solo opposite-field homer by Voyles in the bottom of the sixth finished the scoring.

FMU did place two runners on base in the top of the seventh, but Phillips retired Jaramillo and Wolf to end the game.

In addition to Voyles and Phillips, the All-Tournament Team included Kelley King (USCA), Lindsey Jones (USCA), Megan Barnwell (AASU), Hayley Leissner (Lander), Michaela Wolf (FMU), Meghan Heiser (FMU), Courtney McGuire (North Georgia), and Pilar Harden (North Georgia).