(DAHLONEGA) – The No. 6 University of North Georgia softball team suffered consecutive losses to Columbus State in the 2024 Peach Belt Conference Softball Tournament Saturday, ending a nine-year streak as PBC Tournament champions.

For the first time since 2013, the Cougars hoisted the PBC’s coveted softball trophy. A five-run rally in the seventh helped CSU win game two of the series 5-4 and force a decisive third game. The Cougars rode the momentum from their game two comeback into an offensively fruitful game in the finale. CSU pulled away 8-2 to end its 11-year drought without a PBC title.

Both teams now await the NCAA Selection Show which takes place Monday, May 6 at 11 a.m. As of Wednesday, UNG sat at No. 2 in the southeast regional rankings behind Wingate while the Cougars ranked at No. 7 in the region.

Game 1: Cougars def. Nighthawks, 5-4

Senior pitcher Kristen Davis got the start for the Nighthawks in game two of the series. Davis was tremendous in her second postseason start of the year.

She struck out three of her first four batters faced and did not allow a hit until the third inning.

By then UNG had already taken a 2-0 lead after scoring a pair of unearned runs in the first inning.

Sophomore second baseman Katie Ward led the game off with a walk before sophomore left fielder Sydney Blair reached on an error from CSU third baseman Kenzie Bayer. The Cougars were able to record a pair of outs, but senior right fielder Madison Simmons then stepped to the plate.

Simmons pounded a double to right center field, scoring both Ward and Blair to put the Nighthawks on the board first.

UNG added to its lead in the bottom of the third inning thanks to senior center fielder Mallor Parker.

After senior catcher Georgia Blair worked a walk with one out, Parker followed with a sky high triple off the wall in left center. Blair scored easily to make it 3-0.

Parker was then brought around on an RBI double down the left field line from sophomore first baseman Marycille Brumby.

Brumby’s double would bring home the final run of the game for the Nighthawks.

From there, Davis continued her dominance all the way into the seventh inning. Despite conceding a few hits and one run in the seventh, Davis pulled UNG to within one out of continuing its tournament championship streak. As she got CSU right fielder Katelyn Cooper to fly out with two runners on, Davis was pulled from the game.

Head coach Mike Davenport chose to bring in PBC Pitcher of the Year in senior pitcher Tybee Denton. The Homer, Ga. native had only given up two runs in three starts in the PBC Tournament entering Saturday.

However, with two runners on and two outs in the inning, the Cougars still had one final chance to stay alive as they had the tying run at the plate. On the first pitch from Denton, left fielder Lindsey Patton launched a game-tying, three-run home run over the right field wall.

A double from catcher Nova Wright followed and another double from second baseman Brooke Miller two at bats later brought Wright around to suddenly give CSU the lead.

The Nighthawks were unable to tie or win the game in the bottom of the seventh, forcing the series to one final game.

Game 2: Cougars def. Nighthawks, 8-2

Denton was the planned starter if UNG was forced to play a second game against the Cougars. Davenport did not stray from his plan as Denton started the final game despite allowing the game-tying and go-ahead runs to end the day’s first game.

Perhaps still riding the adrenaline from the comeback victory, CSU ambushed Denton right out of the gate in game three. The Cougars scored a pair of runs in the first inning on three hits and a walk.

The Nighthawks got a run back in the bottom of the frame thanks to Blair’s 17th home run of the season, making it 2-1 after her solo shot to left field.

CSU poured three more runs on in the second inning before Denton was pulled from the game. In came senior reliever Aniston Wright in an effort to steady the Cougar attack.

However, CSU kept it rolling in the fourth with a lead off double, followed by a single and another double to score a run and make it 6-1. Wright was pulled after giving up another single to allow a seventh run.

Senior Delaney Heaberlin entered the game and walked her first batter with the bases loaded, plating the Cougars’ final run of the game.

UNG was unable to get more than two runners on base in a single inning the rest of the game, as CSU snapped the Nighthawks’ nine-year tournament winning streak.