ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – The top-seeded Pirates of national No. 2 Armstrong Atlantic State University advanced to Sunday's semifinal round with a 6-4 victory over eighth-seeded Georgia Southwestern State University in the first quarter final game of the 2013 Peach Belt Conference Softball Championships hosted by Flagler College at Flagler Field.
The Pirates (36-6-1) will play at 11:00 a.m. tomorrow in the day's first semifinal game against the winner of the game between fourth-seeded and 23rd-ranked Columbus State and Flagler, the #5 seed.
The Lady Hurricanes (29-26), which split their regular-season doubleheader with Armstrong, jumped on the score board first with a single run in the first inning as Hayley Knight was batted in from second off a single to right field by Avery Purser.
However, it would be the last time GSW would lead as the Pirates answered in the bottom of the second frame with two runs, one earned, to take their first lead of the game. Both Heather Ellis and Rachel Reynolds scored in the inning with Ellis then scoring in the third to extend Armstrong's lead to 3-1.
Ellis ended the day 3-3 at the plate with three runs scored and was the only Pirate to record multiple hits.
Georgia Southwestern was able to tie the game at 3-3 with two runs off a Purser single up the middle in the top of the fifth following an 18 minute rain delay, but Armstrong answered with three runs of their own to take a 6-3 lead.
Andrea Dalton led things off in the bottom of the fifth for Armstrong with a home run to right-center field before Shelby Duff knocked in a run. Alexis Mercer then wrapped up the scoring as she was walked with the bases loaded.
Georgia Southwestern's Nellie Moore and Purser did make things interesting in the top of the seventh with two outs recorded as Moore knocked home run over the center field fence to cut the score 6-4 before Avery ripped a rocket to the warning track of right field, but Ellis was there to record the final out of the game.
Megan Barnwell (23-3) pitched all seven innings for Armstrong with four strikeouts but did give up three hits, five walks and four earned runs.
Allison Pastor (13-10) was saddled with the loss for Georgia Southwestern after 4.2 innings or work that saw her give up nine hits, six runs and four walks compared to just one strikeout.
Georgia Southwestern finishes a banner season as the Lady 'Canes earned an NCAA-era record 29 victories on the year and participated in the post-season conference tournament for the first time since 2009.