By: Clark Leonard, University Relations
(DAHLONEGA) – The University of North Georgia softball team’s pursuit of a national championship keeps coming into clearer focus. After a dominant two-game sweep of Wingate in the Southeast Super Regional, the Nighthawks have punched their ticket to the NCAA Division II championship. It marks UNG’s third straight appearance in the event.
UNG enters the season’s final week at Frost Stadium at Warner Park in Chattanooga, Tennessee, as the No. 3 seed. The Nighthawks play their first game in Chattanooga at 6:30 p.m. May 25 against No. 6 seed East Stroudsburg University (43-17), winner of the Atlantic Super Regional.
“This team has some strong postseason experience throughout the lineup, which we hope may provide us some familiarity competing at this level and at this time of the year,” head coach Mike Davenport said. “Most of our starting lineup will be playing in their second, and in some cases their third, straight Elite Eight this week in Chattanooga.”
The team will have a sendoff starting at noon May 23 at Haines and Carolyn Stadium at Lynn Cottrell Park in Dahlonega, Georgia, driving through campus before leaving for Tennessee.
Joining UNG and East Stroudsburg in their four-team bracket of the NCAA championship are No. 2 seed University of Central Oklahoma (52-7) and No. 7 seed Nova Southeastern University (43-14). Those two teams will match up at 4 p.m. May 25. The winner of UNG’s four-team double-elimination bracket will advance to the May 30-31 best-of-three championship series.
In the other bracket are No. 1 seed University of Texas at Tyler (59-4), No. 4 seed Wilmington (Delaware) University (44-14), No. 5 seed Grand Valley State University (44-6), and No. 8 seed California State University San Marcos (32-19).
“It is an indescribable feeling. Our team has worked so hard this year, and we have all done such an amazing job at holding one another accountable. Getting to share this experience with this specific team is something I have dreamt about since I was little,” senior first baseman Olivia Sinquefield said. “We are a family, and we truly play for each other. We have so much fun together, and I think that shows on and off the field. Getting to this stage is just the beginning of reaching our goal as a team, and I am excited to see how all our hard work will pay off in Chattanooga.”
UNG advanced to Chattanooga with 8-0 and 1-0 victories May 18-19 against Wingate at Haines and Carolyn Hill Stadium at Lynn Cottrell Park. Tybee Denton tossed a five-inning no-hitter in the first contest, with Kristen Davis throwing a two-hit shutout in the Super Regional finale.
Hannah Forehand, Mariah Wicker and Georgia Blair each tallied two RBIs in the run-rule win against Wingate, with Gracie Mixson’s sacrifice fly driving in the only run the following day.
“It feels surreal. Being here for the third time in my college career, this time it feels different. We feel prepared and even more focused than we were at the beginning of the season,” Wicker, a junior outfielder, said. “This team is a family, and I wouldn’t want to make my little softball player’s dream come true alongside anybody else. Great teamwork is the only way we create breakthroughs that define our careers.”