BRISTOL, Tenn. – Hannah Light gave her team the best chance to win, holding the No. 11 team in the nation and top seeded North Georgia Saints to just one run in their first game of the NCAA Southeast Regional Tournament. The Lady Tornado offense sputtered despite a late rally in the top of the seventh, ultimately falling short in a 1-0 loss to the tournament hosts, Friday evening.
North Georgia pitcher Jessica Coan allowed three hits to the Lady Tornado, though two came in the final frame when King mounted a last-inning rally. After garnering one hit through six innings, the middle of the King lineup led off the seventh off with two base knocks to put runners on first and second with no outs.
Christina Melcher (Orlando, Fla.) began the inning with a rope to right center field and was followed by Fallon Thomas' hot shot that was ruled an infield single to Saints shortstop Tiffanie Burns, placing two on with no outs. Kendall Brabson struggled at the plate and struck out for the third time in the game for the inning's first out. Christy Kooch stepped to the plate and hit a pop up to short left field. Burns ran straight to the left field line and made a diving catch just inside the foul line then returned to her feet and doubled up Melcher at second base to end the game.
The Saints' lone run came in the bottom of the fifth inning when a rocket off the bat of Pilar Harden sailed over right fielder Tiffany Harris' head and resulted in a run-scoring triple. Katie Block led the inning off with her second single of the day and came around to score on Block's three-bagger.
Light cruised through the Saints lineup in each of the first two innings, retiring the side in order both times. She struck out two of her three batters in the third inning and worked out of a two-out, two-on jam. In the sixth, she battled out of another jam with two on and one out, forcing Sarah Johnson to line into a 6-3 double play to close out the side and set up King for its final attempt at the plate.
Cora Milliken registered the first of King's three hits against Coan with a double in the first inning, but the failed to bring her around to score.
Coan struck out 11 Lady Tornado hitters to keep the bats quiet. She allowed no runs on three hits over seven innings in the win.
Hannah Light (Coeburn, Va.) did well to match her counterpart, allowing only one run on six hits to the No. 11 team in the nation. She struck out three and walked one in the loss.
King (34-18) will play Augusta State (31-17) in an elimination game for the right to continue their quest toward a regional championship. The Jaguars and Lady Tornado will play at Haines & Carolyn Hill Stadium on Saturday, May 5. Game time is set for 4 p.m. The winner of that matchup will play the loser of the North Georgia/Columbus State winner's bracket championship game that will be played beforehand.