SGSC Lady Hawks Claim Title Of Runner-Up At GCAA Tournament

By: Amy Hancock
External Affairs Coordinator

Coming off a highly successful regular season, the South Georgia State College Lady Hawks (32-9, 12-2) went into the Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association (GCAA) Region 17 Tournament as the top seed and regular season champions. The Lady Hawks played with grit and determination but were unable to take home the first place trophy after a loss to Georgia Military College (GMC) in the championship game. The tournament was held at Strong Rock Christian Academy in Locust Grove, Ga.

Originally set for April 28-30, a weather delay on the first day of play caused the tournament to begin on April 29 with the Lady Hawks taking on Georgia Highlands. The two teams passed the lead back and forth seven times, but in the end, SGSC pulled out a 5-4 win in seven innings. A bases loaded walk scored Loren Mertz to give SGSC its first victory of the tournament. Whitney Oliver recorded the win as she allowed only four runs over 6 2/3 innings, struck out two, walked two, and gave up eight hits.

April 30 saw the first loss for the Lady Hawks as GMC won by a score of 3-2. The tight game was decided in the eighth inning after an error by SGSC kept the Lady Hawks from scoring the winning run. Samantha Hays took the loss, lasting five innings while walking one, striking out one, and allowing one run. The loss moved the Lady Hawks into the loser’s bracket instead of directly into the May 1 championship game.

As the tournament moved into its final day, SGSC took on Darton State College in the Lady Hawks’ third game. SGSC started off slow, but catcher Amy Latner rocked Darton with two home runs to secure the win by a score of 9-7. Latner went 3-for-5 in the game with four RBIs and two runs scored on homers in the seventh and tenth innings. The extended inning game was hard fought, and the win was secured by the Lady Hawks as Latner stepped to the plate and knocked one over bringing three runs across the plate. Summer Lee also showed impressive offense during the game by scoring a run on an RBI single and with a two-run home run. The win moved the Lady Hawks into the championship game immediately following their ten inning contest.

GMC had different ideas than to let SGSC move into the championship game and take the win. SGSC’s Kimberly Gentry did her best to change the outcome, but she couldn’t lead the Lady Hawks past GMC as SGSC lost 8-3. Gentry had a strong showing by allowing only two hits and one earned run. She walked none and struck out two during her four innings of work. GMC never trailed after scoring four runs in the first on a two-run error and a two-run home run. Three runs in the bottom of the fourth helped the Lady Hawks close the deficit. With the loss, an end came to the Lady Hawks’ season.

Despite the loss in the last attempt during the final game of the tournament to secure a championship, Head Coach Nicki Levering could not say enough good things about SGSC’s 2015-2016 team.  She states, “Words cannot describe how proud I am of this team. I came to South Georgia in the fall of 2014 with hopes to rebuild the program and start a winning tradition; with the help of my assistants, supportive parents, and relentless players, I have been able to accomplish just that. This team will forever be close to my heart, and I am proud of the many accomplishments we achieved.”

Levering was named GCAA Coach of the Year. All-American nominations went to Chelsea Lyons from Jesup, Ga., as she was fourth in the NJCAA in stolen bases for the regular season and Oliver from Dublin, Ga., as she was 12th in the NJCAA with a regular season ERA of 1.29.

Members of the Lady Hawks named to the GCAA All-Region first team are Hays (pitcher) from Jacksonville, Fla., Lyons (outfield), Oliver (pitcher), and Megan Farmer (infield) from Baker, Fla. Those named to the GCAA All-Region second team are Gentry (pitcher) from Jacksonville, Fla., Summer Lee (infield) from Hoboken, Ga., and Halie Pearce (outfield) from Baxley, Ga. Farmer, Lee, and Oliver were named to the GCAA 2016 All-Tournament Team.

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PHOTO: South Georgia State College’s softball team finished second at the GCAA Conference Tournament April 29-May 1 at Locust Grove, Ga. Front row (L-R) Samantha Hays (Jacksonville, Fla.), Amy Latner (Thomasville, Ga.), Chelsea Lyons (Jesup, Ga.), Shelby Lacy (Middleburg, Fla.), Kimberly Gentry (Jacksonville, Fla.), and Halie Pearce (Baxley, Ga.). Back row (L-R) Ryker Chason (assistant coach), Macey Chancey (Alma, Ga.), Whitney Oliver (Dublin, Ga.), Allyson Dowdy (Nashville, Ga.), Loren Mertz (Nahunta, Ga.), Summer Lee (Hoboken, Ga.), Makayla Clark (McRae, Ga.), Megan Farmer (Baker, Fla.), Abby Todd (Waycross, Ga.), Kathryn Dunn (assistant coach), and Nicki Levering (head coach).