DAHLONEGA, Ga.- The Coker College softball team earned the No. 4 seed in the Division II Southeast Region to continue their season, as announced by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) on Monday, May 7. The Cobras will travel to the hosting No. 1 North Georgia Nighthawks for their bracket. This is Coker softball's first regional tournament berth in 11 years. Coker will take on Queens in the first round on Thursday (May 10) at 4:30 p.m.
The Cobras finished the regular season in second place in the South Atlantic Conference with a record of 33-15 and 12-8 in conference play. In addition, Coker finished as the runner-up in the conference tournament and will enter the regional with a record of 35-16.
The No. 1 team in the region, North Georgia, was handed their first loss of the season by the Cobras in March. Coker split their regular season series with No. 5 Queens (N.C.), defeating them handily in the SAC semifinals. Next, the Navy and Gold went on to sweep No. 6 Carson-Newman in regular season action, but fell to the Eagles in the championship game.
The Cobras are led offensively by 72 hits off the bat of first baseman Maria Williamson, who also leads the team with 10 homers, 52 RBI, 28 walks, and .708 slugging percentage. Hannah Price is finishing off her Coker career strong with 43 hits, eight doubles, four home runs, 31 RBI, and 20 walks on a .299/.405/.438 slashline.
In the circle, Christine Carver (18-7, 1.72 ERA) heads up the staff in 155 innings pitched, giving up 38 earned runs and 110 hits, while striking out 129 batters. Nikki Linthicum (7-2, 4.57) and Taylor Forehand (8-5, 2.45) have been impressive as of late, combining for 125 strikeouts, five saves, and only 73 earned runs.
SAC honors are piling up for the Navy and Gold. Both Williamson and Carver were named to First Team All-Conference in their respective positions. Williamson, Carver, and Brianna Strickland earned All-Tournament Team accolades.
The Coker pitching staff finished the regular season as the statistical champion in the conference in strikeout-to-walk ratio of 2.15 and have increased the figure to 2.24. Williamson earned the statistical champion title for her .452 batting average, along with ended the regular season second in on base percentage (.523), and third in both hits (66) and RBIs (49). She has since upped the numbers to a .468 batting average (14th nationally), .541 on base percentage (first in the SAC, 12th in the nation), 72 hits (first in the conference), and 52 RBI.
Carver completed the regular season with top marks in hits allowed per seven innings (4.94) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.18), alongside a second place finish with a 1.86 ERA. She is now first in hits allowed per seven innings at 4.97, first in strikeout-to-walk ratio at 3.23, and second in ERA at 1.72. Forehand is second in strikeout-to-walk ratio at 3.08, just behind Carver.
Queens (N.C.) is the fifth seed in Coker's region, coming in with a record of 35-15. As a team, the Royals are batting .288, with 381 hits, 308 runs, 266 RBI, 193 walks, 275 strikeouts, and 68 errors. In the circle, they have a combined 3.25 ERA in 334.1 innings, allowing 155 earned runs, 143 walks, 36 home runs, and 286 strikeouts.
King (Tenn.) is the bottom seed in the Southeast at No. 8. The Tornado enter the tournament with a 34-20 overall record. They are batting .293 with 430 hits, 276 runs, 241 RBI, 146 walks, 225 strikeouts, and 56 errors. The Tornado pitching staff have a collective 2.76 ERA in 352.1 innings pitched with 139 earned runs, an impressive 85 walks, 28 homers, and 203 strikeouts.
North Georgia (56-2) is the No. 1 seed in the region, host, and the overall No. 1 in Division II NFCA standings. The Nighthawks are hitting .321 as a team with 467 hits, 401 runs, 336 RBI, 198 walks, 185 strikeouts, and just 36 errors. The pitchers for North Georgia are lights out with a 1.14 ERA through 372 innings between the five teammates. They have allowed 47 earned runs, 102 walks, 11 home runs, and struck out 460 batters.
As mentioned, the Navy and Gold will square off with the Queens (N.C.) Royals in the opening round for the fourth meeting this season, with Coker holding a 2-1 record in the matchups, to start their regional tournament. First pitch is scheduled for Thursday, May 10 at 4:30 p.m.
For more information on the regional, including ticket prices, visit http://ungathletics.com/sports/2018/4/2/2018sbregional.aspx